How did you feel when you found out that you won the Session Hairstylist of the Year award?
I was super excited. I wish I could describe the feeling. From my personal experience, for a second you think that it could be you who wins, and then when they do call your name, it’s truly amazing.
I was unable to attend because of a prior commitment in London, UK., but I was watching online. It was like three in the morning where I was, but it was so great being able to watch it live. A friend of mine was working backstage, and she was supposed to say a few words for me, but she got too nervous.
How and why did you start competing in the Contessa Awards?
I’ve been competing for a while now, but when I moved from Toronto to Ottawa, I found myself with a lot of extra time on my hands. My children were more independent, and I was always interested in entering so I just started creating collections and competing.
Tell me more about your collection. What was the inspiration behind it?
This collection is inspired by the architecture from the capital of Brazil, which is called Brasília. It was built in the mid-century and it was very modern for its time. One of my looks was actually directly inspired by a famous cathedral they have there, and I ended up calling the collection Brasília.
The wardrobe was also inspired by the architecture so we needed a fabric that we could mold in a way. I was looking for a foam material, so I went to a moving company and bought moving blankets. The structure and texture of the fabric allowed us to add more texture to the image and we were able to transform it into any shape we wanted.
Tell me about the looks in your collection, how did you achieve the texture and shapes in your collection?
I love working with textured hair because you can really build anything, so I casted two of my models with natural hair. For the first and last images in the collection I coloured the hair to add some dimension to the black and white images, then I worked with the models face shape to determine what I wanted their hair shape to be.
For the second model I cast her for her fair skin because I wanted that contrast in the collection. There is a lot of height to her hair, and the makeup artist helped me to build the hair and to get it that high.
I know you love the session category, tell me a bit more about why you decided to enter the session category this year.
I loved my collection from last year and I felt that I was really close to winning, so I wanted to try again. I did some more research and decided not to give up with this category, and re-entered.
I love the session category because I feel like it gives me more freedom. I can play with the hair, makeup, and wardrobe, and it doesn’t have to be all about the hair. I like that for this category you don’t have to create collections that are too finished or coloured. It can be more organic and modern.
You have diverse models with diverse hair types and textures in this collection. Can you tell me more about why this is important to you?
This is the world that we live in. We have to be able to open the door to all clients and we are so privileged to have our clients in our lives. It doesn’t matter what kind of hair they have; we have to know how to work on it.
Did you face any challenges with this collection?
I did with the second image in this collection. For a second I was worried that it would be cultural appropriation. I wasn’t too sure about it but in the end, I knew that it was coming from a good place and place of appreciation.
How did it feel to win a Contessa after the two hard years of the pandemic?
This win is very emotional. It’s a good feeling because during the pandemic I worked on being more creative. I created new work and I think that’s what kept me going through the financial and emotional stress of the pandemic.
What do you enjoy most about competing in the Contessa awards?
I love to see what other stylists are doing. I love to be present and to know what’s happening in the industry. There are always new trends in this industry and the Contessas allow us to see who are catching onto the trends.
Do you have any goals or anything you’re working on that you can share with us?
I’m really focusing on building my own curriculum right now. I’ll be attending a teaching course at Sassoon in 2023 and hopefully by spring I’ll have it ready.
Salon: Modmop Hairdressing, Ottawa, Ont.
Makeup/Maquillage: Anthonia Bejide
Wardrobe/Stylisme: Anique Gagnon
Photos: Salma Jamal