This was your first-time entering Men’s Hairstylist of the Year. Why did you decide to enter this category?
I usually spend most of my time doing my women’s collections, which take way more time, but this time—a week before the photo shoot—I decided to do this collection. It was a goal of mine.
How was the planning different for this collection?
I wanted to focus more on the haircutting and the styling. It saved me a lot of time, not having to prep hair colour. For a men’s collection, there are a lot of creative things I could do without using hair colour.
And you shot this collection in colour (rather than black and white). Why?
Most men’s collections tend to be shot in black and white. I decided to keep it in colour because I wanted my collection to look more alive and somewhat animated. I haven’t seen a colour collection in the men’s category for a while.
What inspired the looks you featured in the collection?
I did all of the [wardrobe] styling myself. They’re all wearing my clothes. I just wanted the collection to have a ’60s or ’70s kind of vibe. I dressed them all in a turtleneck with a patterned buttoned-up shirt to add more colour to it.
For the hair, I wanted to focus more on the length—the styling and texture. There’s a lot of movement and it’s a bit softer, which is something I haven’t seen in a while. I have a clear vision of what I want to dress them in for every collection—men or women. I’m not only excited about the hair; I’m also excited about the makeup and wardrobe. I really enjoy it.
How did decide on the haircuts and styles you featured in your collection?
I’m lucky because all of those models are actually my clients. I think it was meant to be, because they came into the salon a few weeks before. I’d been wanting to do a photo shoot, so I told them about it and they said I could do whatever I wanted. So, I kept the hair on the longer side so I could focus more on the styling. I like to keep men’s haircuts nice and square.
All of the models have curly hair, one of them smoothed it out, but I kept the men’s cuts very classic yet soft. I didn’t want to put too many clean lines. When I styled it, I used a lot of curl-enhancing products to bring out their texture. Everything was scissor-work, so it’s softer when I styled it.
Have you worked with your clients as models before?
Actually, this was my first time. I’m always looking for models, especially female models. I know what looks to go for and what’s suitable for each face shape. I just happen to have gorgeous guys sitting in my chair and when I cut their hair, I turn their chair around to see their profile and different angles to see if they’re suitable for the looks I’m going for.
Have you always styled men’s and women’s hair? Do you have a preference?
I’ve always loved doing both. In the past few years, men’s hair has really grown in fashion and with more and more men’s hairstylists. Kevin Luchmun from the U.K. is someone who takes men’s hair to the next level. I’ve always loved doing men’s hair, but I never spent the time shooting a collection before this one.
When learning how to cut and style hair, what forms of education were most helpful for you?
I’m more of a visual kind of person. I feel like I watch and learn. Nowadays with social media and Instagram, there is a lot of free education with stylists from around the world. I think it really helps. Social media helps us see how different stylists from around the world approach hair. I haven’t taken [live] education in a while, but when I travel I love to visit take courses. I like to find inspiration when I’m in a different city.
Who would you consider to your biggest mentor?
I would have to say Chad Taylor [co-owner of Moods Hair Salon]. We’ve been working together for more than eight years now. I started [apprenticing] two weeks before I graduated and then they hired me once I graduated. I was personally trained by Chad Taylor. He has a great eye for detail, and I learned a lot from him. I kind of evolved from there.
When I was in hair school, I remember when I was looking at salons to work with, Moods was always mentioned at the Contessas. They did a lot of competition work and I [realized] that’s where I wanted to be. I wanted to do more editorial styles and shoot collections.
What are your tips for winning a Contessa award?
It’s always good to study the competition. I really love editorial styles, so I love to look at the finalist collections and see what other people are doing. You can get an idea of what judges are looking for. To make it a [cohesive] collection, you really have to think about everything; the hair, makeup, wardrobe. You have to come up with a theme. Models are very important and how they pull off the hair. I think you have to think about every single detail. It makes a difference.
What’s next for you?
Winning a new title this year has really opened doors for me. I think next year I want to be better with my time management. I find that as a fully booked stylist behind the chair, I always wait last minute for everything. But Session Hairstylist of the Year is something that I’ve always looked forward to [entering] but it’s a bigger production. And eventually, Canadian Hairstylist; it’s the biggest category. I’m confident but I want to slowly work my way up. With Contessa, any category is great. It’s so much fun.
Name/Nom: Freddy Sim
Category/Catégorie: Men’s Hairstylist | Styliste Hommes
Salon: Moods Hair Salon, Vancouver
Makeup/Maquillage: Isabelle Pan
Wardrobe/Stylisme: Freddy Sim
Photos: Lillian Liu