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The Colourist

The Colourist

Schwarzkopf Professional’s Global Colour Amabassador, Lesley Jennison, was in Mumbai for the Essential Looks 2018 show. As one of the minds behind the collection, Lesley had lot to share about her experience. — By Kanishka Ramchandani

What inspired you to get into hairdressing?

Growing up, I wanted to do make-up for the BBC. They used to have period dramas. I grew up going to theatre and reading classics, so I loved period dramas. I wrote to BBC asking if I could work with them. They asked me to study history, art and hairdressing. I completed college and then did my hairdressing, so I started a bit late. If I want to do anything, I want to do it the best way. That’s why for hairdressing, I applied at Vidal Sassoon. I got into Sassoon and remained with them for 18 years. I loved every single moment of it! I was the first person in the history of Sassoon to be a part of the art team and a manager at the same time.

Then I started to freelance, a difficult task for a colourist. I did it for two years. Then I was invited by Schwarzkopf Professional to work on the branding for its Brilliance line, which had to be relaunched. I did that. It went on to win industry awards. I was then asked to head Essential Looks. What’s unique about EL is that it is inspired by the catwalks and we design looks that are relevant to the hairdresser.

How was it working with Vidal Sassoon?

It was amazing! The training was fierce. I started my training with 27 other people, and at the end of the three years, there were just two of us left.

When did you discover your passion for colour?

Within three months of joining Sassoon! As a hairdresser you have so much control on how you can change somebody’s appearance purely through placement of colour. With face framing and colour contouring, you can change the shape of a face.

How did you blend in with Schwarzkopf’s philosophy?

For me, what works is that Schwarzkopf listens to what a hairdresser wants. Throughout the year, they bring hairdressers from across the world to their head office to discuss what they really want. And the fact that they are constantly reinventing and putting efforts in innovating technology. Some of the technology that’s coming later this year is insanely clever. I am also invovled with the formulation of colours.

Since Schwarzkopf is celebrating 120 years, it’s a special year for us. They asked three colourists, including me, to make six colours. So, we went into the labs, we were allowed to pick the tones. We worked really hard on formulating and testing them, until we found the perfect colours. I wanted to create colours that a hairdresser would be able to use every day in the salon. We even have our names printed on the boxes!

Tell us more about Essential Looks.

We have five trends. There’s Random Rebels, which is the youngest and strongest of the trends. The colours are very very bright. Then we have Real Me, which has a catwalk version with block colours. For the salon, we have a softer version. Next is Beyond Borders. It’s a celebration of different ethnics coming together. In this we use various techniques, one is forcing the hair to show more movement and another on is adding lighter tones to mid-lengths. Then there’s Dusted Rouge, which is powerful but soft. For the Essential Looks show in India, we added another trend for Indian industry Urban Diva.

What do you think of the current hair education?

I think in the last 20 years, it has been getting better and better. When I started, people thought if you want to be a hairdresser its because you didn’t know what else to do. But now that’s not the case as you can get higher degree in colour chemistry. Hairdressers can earn great money now. It will go as far as you can take it!

What is your opinion of the Indian hairdressers?

This team (at ASK Academy) is amazing! It has hairdressers from all over the country. The first thing I noticed when I saw them working was the passion.

What advice would you like to give them?

Never ever stop learning! Technology changes so rapidly now. For instance, Fibreplex has changed the way hairdressers should think about colouring hair. We can now take the hair from black to blonde with no compromise. The moment you think you don’t need any more education, you stop growing. Always keep an open mind to new technology, new education.