It has been a big week for an Aucklander in New York.
Athletes competing internationally chase medals. For hair stylists the prize is directing a show look at one of the Big Four fashion weeks. For Richard Kavanagh, years of hard training on the runway circuit were rewarded not once, but twice in New York last week.
He oversaw the hair at Tribune Standard, a label to watch - Anna Wintour does - and then directed again at Nomia, a promising label where he constructed a strong, polished masculine look. After the first show Kavanagh was still buzzing: "The show went really great and the coverage has all been very positive."
Birds were an inspiration for Tribune Standard designer Tawfik Mounayer, who used a striking pheasant feather print in his well-reviewed collection. The designer, who has worked with Isaac Mizrahi, Gap, Liz Claiborne and Ann Taylor, melds craftsman-like detail with wearable ladylike styles, underpinned with sportswear influences.
Getting to grips with his aesthetic was something Kavanagh had to do rapidly after getting the call to do the show. He was already in New York to work as part of the Redken hair team and to shoot an advertising campaign for Rodney Wayne salons for whom he is creative director.
Look out for a touch of New York slickness in the winter looks he will unveil, with Kavanagh saying highly styled looks are ahead.
How did it feel leading the hair team for one of the hot talents at New York Fashion Week?
It's very exciting to have been able to design the hair look and lead the team for this show, not only because [Mounayer is] making all the right noises in the industry and he had a great turnout, but because the culture at the label is really down-to-earth and very inclusive.
What was the brief and how did you interpret that?
It was to create a highly polished, super-tight, sophisticated, futuristic Olive Oyl look - remember Popeye's girlfriend? This collection was based around the idea of taking flight and we wanted to give a subtle nod to the 20s feel of the prints and fabrics by keeping the hair timeless (with a twist). Tawfik had sketched all the pieces for this collection with a very similar silhouette to the hair so I really wanted to realise his vision and give him the polish and finish he desired.
When did the approach come and how much time did you have to plan the look?
I was having breakfast with a friend [beauty editor of Black magazine Valery Gherman, whose brother Mikhail is Karen Walker's partner] when he received a call from the designer about doing makeup for the show. Valery asked if he [Mounayer] had someone for hair lined up. He did already, but then looked at my online portfolio and called back saying he really wanted to work with me and that he'd spoken to the team that was going to do the hair and they had willingly stepped aside (and even offered to assist me).
I met with the designer, talked over the looks and the casting the day before the test. Then we did a hair and makeup test a couple of days before the show. Easy really ...
What was the post-show feedback like?
Amazing. Fashion editors have all been really excited about the collection. I got some great feedback about the hair. Valery has been complimented on the makeup. One of my team emailed to say that it was by far the best show he's worked on all Fashion Week (he's done about 15) so, all in all, very positive.
And the post show celebration?
My team all went to celebrate at [famous Lower East Side eatery] the Meatball Shop while I stayed at the show to look after the hair for the look book shoot. I then came home exhausted to a wee Laphroaig [whisky] and an early night. Not very fashion-fabulous I know, but I've got one more show to test and lead before I get to cut loose ...
What else did you work on this trip?
The Rodney Wayne winter campaign and a celebrity portrait shoot. It's been a great step up from working as part of Guido's [Redken] team to running my own.
Kiwi model Ashika, is doing great. Emily Baker is always a favourite. Aussie breakout Emily Jean is a star on the rise, then there's all the usual suspects.
Hair trends we should watch for?
A cleaner, more polished look for winter. Hair with shine ...
For Tawfik Mounayer's show, how long did you have to work on the models?
For Tribune Standard I had 26 models, three hours, 20 assistants, two producers, a PA for me, and a team of three from Easihair looking after the hair extensions.
How did you achieve the look?
It's a little more tricky than this, but in a nutshell: pull the hair into a super-tight ponytail at the crown, clean up any flyaways (with Redken Fashion Works 12 hairspray), apply gel (Redken Hardwear) to the ponytail to make it wet-look and easy to control and twist it in a clockwise direction until it folds on itself. Pin it and finish the look (with Redken Forceful 23 hairspray).
The top-knot twist looks tricky, can it be done at home?
This is actually a great look for winter, especially with hats going on and coming off ... because it's tight and polished it's easy to keep your hair under control. To get it super-tight and perfect for a night out, you might want to pop into the salon.