Nick Irwin spent weeks playing around with grease on his wife’s hair in order to perfect the wet, sexy look he used for this shoot. He talks about coming to session work later in life and bringing back The Wedge.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
My father was a jazz drummer who had a friend who’d worked for Sassoon in London. He’d moved back up to the North East to open his own salon. I was about 14 and getting into trouble at school and my dad said, ‘Right, at weekends you’re going to work in this salon.’ That was in the early 80s. I really loved the whole thing of making people look great, and that stuck with me.
DO YOU HAVE A RULE THAT YOU’VE CARRIED THROUGH YOUR CAREER?
It’s tough – there are so many different aspects to what we do. But for me it’s about staying humble. I’m coming back into session work slightly older. I was in my 20s when I first started doing it. Every day is a learning curve with what we do.
TIGI AND TONI & GUY ARE TWO OF THE MOST RECOGNISABLE HAIR BRANDS. WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THEM STAND OUT?
It’s very simple. Anthony Mascolo founded them with his brothers and had a really strong vision. Fashion and editorial and hairdressing were very segregated then – still are to some extent. He had this vision to link them. He also picked up a camera – he’s still a great photographer and he created an image for the brand. There were some pivotal points in those early years that made the brands famous. David Simms was Anthony’s photographic assistant, so there were some really talented people in the late 80s and early 90s that were in that team. Guido [Palau] was on board in the early stages. They just had great vision as a family.
HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH THE CONCEPT FOR A SHOOT?
I’m obsessed with research and I’ve got a great team around me that always bring things to the table. It’s research and finding a common thread that’ll pull it all together. Hence what we did for S-Magazine. That greased hair thing – taking it beyond just hair that looks wet.
DO YOU THINK HAIR STYLING IS AN ART?
I think we contribute to the art world in creating hair for image. If you think about hair, how it grows – when it comes out of the follicle, it’s dead. It’s like a fabric you work with and manipulate, so in terms of that, it’s art.
IS THERE A PRODUCT YOU’D LIKE TO INVENT?
I think any hairdresser would say they’d like to cure baldness. The first person to find that is going to be extremely wealthy.
WHOSE HAIR WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO WORK WITH?
I’m a huge fan of David Bowie – I’d love to work with him.
DO YOU EVER STOP PEOPLE IN THE STREET AND ASK THEM ABOUT THEIR HAIR?
I used to. I think as you get older you get a little more conservative with stuff like that. I’m not averse to stopping somebody but I’m not some weirdo that runs around chasing people about their hair.
WHICH HAIR STYLISTS HAVE INSPIRED YOU?
I’m a great fan of Julien d’Ys. For me, he’s very much an artist. Anthony Mascolo, because he influenced me early on as a hair cutter. Guido has still got incredible vision. Eugene Souleiman’s fantastic. And the new guys that are coming through. One is Paul Hanlon. He used to assist me years ago and he’s on the money.
ARE THERE ANY STYLES YOU’D LIKE TO SEE COME BACK?
I remember the first cut I ever really learned was the wedge – in the early 80s. It was on the back of the New Romantic thing. It was very much a Sassoon cut, though it was actually cut by Trevor Sorbie who worked at Sassoon then. That’s an amazing style. It’s cut to the hairline and it’s all one length. It pays homage to that whole Sassoon thing. That would be a great shape to come back.
WHAT ABOUT THE FUTURE OF HAIRDRESSING – AND DIY?
DIY is really interesting. Especially in the last five or six years, living in London and seeing pockets of fashion – those tribes of young kids doing some really mad stuff with their hair. It’s certainly inspired me, for cutting or creating things for shoots
DO YOU CUT YOUR WIFE’S HAIR?
If she was here she’d probably be moaning. Maybe once, twice a year. Which is crazy because you should cut your hair way more often. I colour it, though, and I’m not a colourist.
IS SHE YOUR MUSE?
Without a doubt. All the grease stuff we did – I played around with different products on her hair for a couple of weeks to see what it did.