Hairing around London Fashion Week with Toni & Guy

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I used to think Cannes was tough – but that was before I did London Fashion Week. Reader, after just three days racing around the whole of south east London, beset by serious hair and outfit angst, suddenly the prospect of five days on the Riviera is looking positively restful. It’s taken me a fortnight to recover sufficiently to even Blog.

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And so it begins…the Toni & Guy team in action backstage at the Marchesa show

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The master Mark Hampton backstage at Sophia Webster

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Model No 1 heads to make-up after Hampton’s hands finish their work

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True blue: Hampton’s interpretation of cyber-punk meets jungle

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Shoe heaven at Sophia Webster

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The actual James Read applying his best-selling self tan

Make no mistake – London Fashion Week is WILD. I was privileged enough to be invited backstage at four shows (and sit front of house at one), to watch Toni & Guy HairMeetWardrobe Global Hair Ambassador Mark Hampton and his talented team style the hair of hundreds of models at the Marchesa, Sophia Webster, Matthew Williamson and Vivienne Westwood shows.

It was genuinely fascinating. These people can work magic, with no hair request impossible. From silly o’clock in the morning (the call time for Sophia Webster was 6.30am on a Sunday) to mighty late at night, Hampton and his hairdressers created a range of different looks that included “pre-festival Boho chic” at Marchesa to “cyber-punk meets jungle” at Sophia Webster. I adored the latter’s bright cobalt dreadlocks, but my personal favourite was the gorgeous, glossy Marie Helvin-inspired curls at Matthew Williamson.

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Backstage at Matthew Williamson, channelling Marie Helvin

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The pre-show Matthew Williamson catwalk at One Great George Street

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Glossy curls complement the clothes on the runway at Matthew Williamson

Believe me, in hair terms, there is nothing the Toni & Guy crew cannot do. And they do it in cramped, inhospitable spaces, teaming with hot lights, stressed-out make-up artists, spray-tan tents, shrieking people with clipboards, and the occasional sobbing model. For the uninitiated it’s hard to convey the atmosphere backstage but it’s a heady mix of panic, adrenaline, skill, speed and fear. In that respect it’s the fashion world’s equivalent of press day, except they do it repeatedly, multiple times on consecutive days, racing from one location to the next and starting from scratch each time. That Hampton did it all with a smile on his face – and managed to film videos and deliver mini-presentations to the press WHILE STYLING – is nothing short of miraculous. When I’m passing pages on press day I’m barely civil to myself.

But then Hampton is a bit of a star – and a very savvy signing by Toni & Guy. The inked, handsome Welshman could arguably grace the runways himself, but is far more than just a pretty face. He studied at Vidal Sassoon, honing his craft before assisting Guido Palau, one of the world’s greatest session stylists, for almost seven years. He oozes talent, charisma and a wicked sense of humour, effortlessly de-mystifying trends and how best to use a styling product.

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The afternoon shift: backstage at Vivienne Westwood

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Some tools of the trade on display

But Hampton doesn’t just follow trends; he creates them. At the Toni & Guy HairMeetWardrobe Global Style Hub event during LFW, Hampton previewed the four key looks he has devised for Spring/Summer 2015: City Sunlight, Floating Gardens, Worldwide Vibe and Contemplation. And in a feat I, as a child of the 80s, still can’t quite believe, he even demonstrated how to make a scrunchie look cool (in my very own hair! Swoon…)

Toni & Guy’s collaboration with Hampton, and indeed the brand’s ongoing partnership with London Fashion Week, does a sterling job of underlining its fashion credentials and British heritage, elements that translate into a key point of difference for the travel retail channel. Earlier this year Unilever International Global Travel Retail Business Manager Rosalyn Frayna told The Moodie Report: “Being involved with London Fashion Week solidifies the ‘Britishness’ of the brand. The fact that it’s a British brand in London Fashion Week makes it a product that has a unique quality in travel retail.”

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At the Style Hub Hampton shows the fash pack how to wear a scrunchie

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Hair by Hampton: The Moodie Report’s Rebecca Mann rocks a rad new look

Hair care remains a fledgling category in the channel, but Toni & Guy has made good initial progress, with further expansion expected. Other hair brands, such Moroccanoil, and even the mighty L’Oréal group, are also eyeing the channel with interest.

But back to London Fashion Week. I conclude this Blog with the key lessons I learned during my debut tour of duty:
– Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to participate without the Google Maps app, a London A-Z, and a pair of flats for those awkward between-show sprints.
– Sprints aside, it’s illegal to not wear vertiginous heels.
– Wear any colour you like – so long as it’s black.
– There is no such thing as too much make-up.
– Carry Berocca, plasters, painkillers, breath mints, sunglasses, Red Bull and (optional) vodka miniatures (don’t judge).
– Act nonchalant backstage, even if the models are naked/crying hysterically/both.
– Do NOT touch the shoes.
– Do not be too proud to sit on the floor next to the toilets if your iPhone is dying and the only free plug point in the entire building is located there.
– Welshmen rock (like that’s news).
– So do scrunchies.

Remember, you heard it here first. I’m off to practise my back-combing.

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  • Nice Blog Rebecca but I take issue with this statement: “It’s the fashion world’s equivalent of press day, except they do it repeatedly, multiple times on consecutive days, racing from one location to the next and starting from scratch each time.”

    My average press day is every day, usually starting at 6am and never ending before 11pm, often ‘racing from one location to the next’ (flying from city to city) and ‘starting from scratch each time’ (the many various Moodie Report Interim Bureaux down the years have housed plenty of Moodie tantrums when the wi-fi won’t work). All this to room service, morning, noon and night and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for company.

    Whereas this lot get “naked models” (alright the odd one sobs a bit) and are constantly pampered in terms not only of catering but attention as they indeed pamper others so brilliantly themselves.

    But hey, I’m probably not the Toni & Guy target market. Because while you say: “Believe me, in hair terms, there is nothing the Toni & Guy crew cannot do” – actually there is. They can’t do mine.