We caught up with Silas Tsang of Blushes in Ottawa, the winner of Canadian Hairstylist of the Year award at the 32nd Contessa Awards.
Congratulations! I believe this is your seventh Contessa trophy. Wow! Tell us how you got your start with Contessa.
I started entering in 2008, but I didn’t receive an award until 2013. My first Contessa award was for Salon Team of the Year.
I’ve been working for five and a half years. I remember one year, in 2009, I think I was a finalist in five categories, but I didn’t take any trophies home. It was my dream to have a trophy in my hands, so I kept going.
I understand you named this collection, Business as Usual. What inspired this collection?
I’ve always like animation and animated characters like Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney is a hero when it comes to animation and how he created Mickey Mouse—a character that everyone knows; there’s only one and he’s iconic.
I wanted to create hair that’s more wearable and real. When I discussed it with my team, I decided I wanted the whole collection to be real hair with only some hair pieces—no wigs. I wanted to create images and work that will always be remembered.
I can imagine at this stage in your career it may be easier to find models to work with, but what advice do you have for people who may find it difficult to find models (whose hair they can cut and colour)?
Some hairdressers will ask where I found my wigs for the photos, but it’s their real hair—not a wig. Then, they will ask, “How do you find a model?” When you develop a good relationship with a model agency, they do have some models available to colour and cut their hair. When you build some recognition [in the industry], the agency will know you’re not going to ruin the model’s hair. They will ask their models who want to [change their hair].
Colour-wise, I have to use more temporary products that will wash out in a few washes. I have to sign an agreement with the model and agency. When you build a good relationship with the model agency, they know what your work is like and the model gets to know what your work is like.
How did you decide on the haircuts, styles and colours to feature in this collection? Do you have a favourite look from this collection?
For a hair competition, you’re always aiming to show short hair and long hair, texturizing—all types of styling.
My favourite is the short hair. I love the image and that short hairstyles can look so beautiful and feminine. Feminine women with a short haircut can look boyish, but this image with her mood and pose is really eye-catching. It’s my favourite of the collection.
Tell me about the photo shoot. Did anything surprise you when you were working on this collection?
We shot in Melbourne, Australia in August 2019. My team and I have been working together for two years now, so it’s really organized. For me, being really organized at a photo shoot is important.
For the first image we shot, I think I spent a good two hours shooting, and we didn’t use her look. Sometimes, when you’re shooting the first model, you don’t go with the first look. It’s a beautiful image, too, but when you put [the photos] all together, they didn’t quite look right.
Can you walk me through how you plan a collection from the idea stage to the day of the photo shoot?
First thing I decide on is the category, whether it’s Hairstylist of the Year or Master Hairstylist of the Year. If it’s five models, I need at least five different looks. I always look closely at the rules for the competition to make sure I know the rules well and am showcasing what they want to see. Then, I look for what will inspire me. Whether it’s an artist, painter or character, or even a fashion magazine. I like art.
What’s your secret to winning?
I get asked this a lot but being organized and well prepared is the best way. You want to be on time because you’re paying for the models, studio and photographer. After I’ve been shooting for so many years, it’s well organized. You want to be ready to go. Know what your first look is, your second look and what you’re aiming for.
The Contessa platform is to show work and inspire people, while making hairdressing look beautiful.
Name/Nom: Silas Tsang
Category/Catégorie: Canadian Hairstylist | Styliste Canadien de l’année
Salon: Blushes, Ont.
Makeup/Maquillage: Kylie O’Toole
Wardrobe/Stylisme: Karly Brown
Photos: Andrew O’Toole