Hair Talk with Richard Kavanagh

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You may not have heard of hair guru; Richard Kavanagh but we are certain you are aware of his work without knowing him! He is one of the most creative hair stylists of our time. We at MUSQ were lucky enough to hang out with Richard a few years ago at the Adelaide Hair & Beauty Expo. Although we were well aware of Richards work back then, since meeting with this down to earth, unpretentious, seriously cool man himself we have been drooling over his work since. With his creative genius being seen once again during MBFW for Alice McCall show we thought it was due time to sit down and chat with the man himself.

Mr. Richard Kavanagh

Q. When creating the concept for a fashion show such as Alice McCall, where do you look for inspiration?

A. Inspiration can come from anywhere. often it comes from the clothes and the creative collaboration between designer, stylist and makeup, where we are trying to create something new that compliments the whole look. Sometimes it’s extremely conceptual, and can be inspired by art, history, or cultural references. And sometimes it’s as simple as seeing someone with cute hair that I like. For example, last week on a shoot, one of the crew brought their 4-year-old daughter who had her hair in lopsided loose bunches with beautiful flyaway wispy bits and baby tangle so I took photos of her for my hair reference folder!

Q. Your profession has taken you around the globe. Best tip for gals who want a career in the hair industry?

A. Ooh! big question! – I would say three things. 1 – learn your craft. Get really good at the fundamentals of hairdressing. Learn historical techniques and methods and every day, practice getting better at something that challenges you. 2 – Relax, we are not changing the world, every shoot or show is not all about the hair, it’s alway always always about the client. Take the focus off yourself by focussing on them. Make it all about them and you will be asked back over and over. 3 – Stay grateful. How lucky are we that every single day we get to make people look and feel beautiful and get paid for it! People dream of being creative and that’s all we do, all day every day is create. Whether its a fringe trim or an avant-garde wig, the process is to create. That makes you a creative. Lucky little buggers!

Q. You are a busy man in demand. How do you balance work and personal life?

A. I have a very full and busy life. If it wasn’t for my family i’d probably only work, so it’s great to have the balance to switch off and spend time with them. I’m addicted to martial arts. When i’m at the gym, I literally can not think of anything other than what’s immediately in front of me. The consequences of a lack of focus are immediate and sometimes brutal. I find once i’ve done a training session everything else has melted into unimportance…

Q. Career highlight?

A. It’s hard to say one career highlight. I’ve had some pretty major ‘pinch me’ moments. I suppose the one major moment that always stands out is the first time I worked on a Prada show in Milan. I had been doing shows for quite a few years and kind of accidentally fell into Guido Palau’s team during New York fashion week. At the end of the week at Calvin Klein, everyone was saying their farewells, and lot’s of the team were asking if they would be seeing me in Milan. I said no, I didn’t think so. Until Guido said goodbye and ‘see you in Milan yeah?’ and I responded with a ‘yup, see ya there’… I flew from New York, through L.A. to Sydney and then to Auckland. The next morning I caught a redeye to Wellington to do a spot on the Good Morning Show and then flew back to Auckland, then immediately onto Milan via Singapore and Hamburg. A few hours sleep and we were picked up and transported to Prada HQ where we started working on the show. I definitely had to pinch myself, because I never imagined that I would ever work on a Prada show, and it seemed to happen without me really even noticing! Being part of that team was incredible and I worked on over 150 shows. Including being part off the team that workshopped the basket weave braids for Sarah Burtons first collection as creative director of Mcqueen. But I’d have to say that first Prada show was pretty standout…    

Q. Can’t resist to ask … Go to MUSQ product?

A. Definitely the Gel Cleanser – after jiujitsu I’ve been rolling round on the floor for an hour and a half with other sweaty bodies, all I want is to shower and get clean. And it smells so goooodddd!!!!!

” Wear your hair, don’t let your hair wear you! ”

Q. You are the Creative Director for ghd. How important are the ghd tools when styling?

A. Ghd have the most technologically advanced tools on the market. In my work, I don’t get any second chances, so I have to know that my tools are not only going to perform but that they’re going to perform to the highest level all over the planet. I can’t go to any shoot without my ghd air hairdryer, and my ghd creative wave wand is my most used tool after that. It’s how I create that effortlessly editorial  ” just woke up like this” look for advertising and editorial clients alike.

Q. Best trick for a look that looks like you’ve taken 20 mins when it really took 5?

A. Sea salt spray, dry shampoo and a 5 minute zhuzh with your ghd creative wave wand. Shake it out and you’re good to go. Here’s a quick video to show you how 

Q. Best hair advice you have ever received?

A. As a stylist, always look at the girl in the mirror. Don’t get caught up with the back of the head, make it all about the girl. As a wearer of hairstyles myself, use the best quality hair care and styling products you can. It’s false economy to use a budget product. Use the good stuff, your hair will look and feel better and it will last longer.

Q. Favourite hair products?

A. My favourite styling products are built on a foundation of science and fashion and they are battle tested backstage at the runways of the world. For this reason I always choose Redken styling products. I can create any look i want easily and consistently. 

Q. Latest hair trend you are obsessing about?

A. Lately, I’m obsessing over hair accessories. For the past 12 months I’ve been working on a range of luxury hair accessories and the more I work on it the more I see them everywhere! It’s crazy, but I reckon one in four women have some sort of accessory in their hair. Check it out 

Q. Hair philosophy:

A. Whatever style you choose, whatever colour you choose, make sure you adapt the idea to suit your face and personal style. In other words, wear your hair, don’t let your hair wear you…

All pictures for this post have been taken from instagram / @richardkavanagh

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