In May 2011, Vintage Hair Lounge launched its very first Vintage Hairstyling For Camera course. The concept of the course has remained constant in the six years that have followed – professional training for editorial standard vintage hairstyling using traditional techniques, set within a background of historical knowledge, and coping with the demands of modern digital age camera finish and the realities of “modern hair”.
It has always been a “back to basics” training perspective, instilling the understanding of what vintage hairstyling means for a twenty first century clientele, who are not likely to be wearing the looks as an every day hairstyle. Modern hair fashions produce repeated challenges for recreating traditional looks of yesteryear. Hair is cut, conditioned and worn in often completely different ways to the twenties through to the sixties, and so undertaking vintage hairstyling on modern hair demands a thorough understanding and mastery of traditional skills along with the ability to recreate authenticity whilst acknowledging that the starting point (the head of hair you are crafting) is not necessarily perfect for the look to be recreated. Inevitably, our students have valued the endless “tips and tricks” we share that assist in overcoming the realities they are likely to face in a busy salon, demanding photoshoot or time constrained event “pop-up”.
The course evolved from the very heart of Vintage Hair Lounge’s raison d’etre. Back in 2007/2008 when the project was in development we recognised that those best equipped to embrace the opportunities that would flow from a determined and ongoing “vintage revival” would be those hairdressers mature enough to have experienced a more traditional hairdressing education and career, and those who had experience from the media industries, working in film and television, which still requires a high level of competence in “period” work. With my mum Gloria Holloway having many decades of hairdressing experience and teaching under her belt – initially having been trained at the prestigious Barrett Street Technical College (now the London College of Fashion) in the sixties, often by teachers who began their hairdressing careers in the thirties and forties – the challenge of bringing vintage hairstyling to the High Street, and vintage hairstyling training to the current industry, was without doubt made for her.
My own background as a second career entrant to film and television hair and makeup brought a “camera trained” perspective to this work, having undertaken the Greasepaint training course in 2002, led by the formidable and quite wonderful late Julia Cruttenden and supported by many talents from the former BBC Hair and Makeup Department. Working through a camera lens is a phenomenal discipline to understand every aspect of your work and ultimately offers an essential training tool which we have made a central feature of the Vintage Hairstyling For Camera Course.
One of the most demoralising aspects of many training courses offering “hands-on” practical work is the common expectation that students will work on each other. Our course is two days. It is a full-on intensive and integrated course, and there is no time, nor justification, for students to sit in the hairdressing chair modelling for others. We simply don’t see the educational value of that, nor do we do think it is fair for someone to pay for a course and take time out from the experience for someone else’s practical benefit. The camera/live-model work is a comprehensive part of the course for a very good reason, and it is essential that students have the opportunity to make the most of it.
We teach hairdressing history on the course. Why? Because we are training prospective experts. It is imperative that students take the skills they have learnt on the course back to their own professional lives and demonstrate they understand what they are doing and why they are doing it, along with how they are setting about achieving that. It is commonplace to have to make compromises to achieve the best outcome for the client. Those compromises are necessitated by so many things – the client’s hair type, personality, age, the occasion they want the vintage hair look for, along with the time allocated and price being charged. A degree of realism about vintage hairstyling in the modern age is important. Nobody wants to leave a salon with a vintage hairstyle that makes them feel awkward, self-consciousness or unglamorous. Nor do clients want to find that the hair doesn’t stay put or ends up like a tangled bird’s nest when they ultimately take it down and brush it out. As the old saying goes, we are hairdressers not magicians, and expert advice and confidence in your artistry is what clients will ultimately value. The profession is only enhanced by hairdressers perfecting their skills and increasing their knowledge, and Vintage Hair Lounge is thoroughly committed to developing a high degree of professional competence in the expertise of the students we train.
Training is the beginning of that expertise, not the end. We expect and encourage our students to use as many opportunities as they can to practise and perfect their skills both in and out of the salon following on from the course. Seeing the phenomenal progress of many of our former students over several years clearly demonstrates how they continue to improve their skills and understanding of vintage hairstyling the more they use those skills and the further knowledge they acquire on their professional journeys. Experience takes time, but years of “doing it wrong” don’t necessarily equate to years of “doing it right”, and that can often be seen immediately with many longstanding hairdressers joining our course only to discover they never even knew how to backcomb correctly for example until they were shown by Gloria.
Ultimately, training should be fun. It should inspire, and it should stretch your skills, your persistence and your hunger for knowledge. Personally, one the worst training courses I ever attended in my career (and this was as an adult learner) was being told off by the tutor for talking and laughing with the students and models we were working on. I was so shocked, humiliated and demoralised that it stayed with me for many years. If you cannot express the joy and the fun in what you are doing and learning, what is the point, I thought. Join one of our courses and you will be buzzing with the positive and supportive atmosphere that is actually needed when experiencing such intensive and demanding learning.
To all those who have undertaken our Vintage Hairstyling For Camera course, and our follow up course Advanced Vintage Hairstyling : Setting and Waving, we salute you. You are pioneers for an extremely demanding craft and give us the purpose to continue learning and sharing with others.
Vintage Hairstyling For Camera course (2 days – £450) Next course Southampton 7 & 8 May
Advanced Vintage Hairstyling : Setting and Waving (2 days – £360)
For more information about our courses and training with Vintage Hair Lounge, please contact our Course Director, Gloria Holloway 07528 753363 firstname.lastname@example.org
All photographic images show work in action on our courses and student’s final photoshoot images. Photos by Scott Chalmers.