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Edinburgh International Fashion Festival

Believe in the value of your job, says top stylist

Anna Freemantle-Zee and Gianni Scumaci at the opening of the Festival (pic: by Terry Murden)

Anna Freemantle-Zee and Gianni Scumaci at the opening of the Festival (pic: by Terry Murden)

Hairdressers ‘help clients feel good about themselves’

Acclaimed hairdresser Gianni Scumaci opened the fifth Edinburgh International Fashion Festival with a message to those working in the sector to believe in the value and creativity of what they do.

Scumaci, who has worked with the world’s top models, photographers and make-up artists, said hairdressers should take pride in their ability to make other people feel good about themselves.

Speaking to a packed audience at Ocean Terminal, Scumaci said he was always interested in the customers’ own stories and how he could bring this out in the hair styles he created. This ability to connect with the client’s pride and sense of who they are gave hairdressers an importance they often failed to recognise in themselves, he said.

“Yes, it is important to have good technique but we must also consider the emotional side of what we do,” he said.

Hairdressing in the UK is a £7 billion business and just about everyone makes a personal visit to one of the 36,000 salons around the country.

A photo of one of Scumaci's creations

One of Scumaci’s creations

Hairdressers developed an emotional attachment to their clients who would confide and trust in them. Their hair was an expression of their personality and it was the duty of the hairdresser to get that right.

Yet Scumaci said too many hairdressers did not appreciate how influential and important they were in the lives of their clients. As such, hairdressing was wrongly regarded as a lowly job.

“It is about the hierarchy of the education system. At the bottom are the arts which do not get the same attention as the more practical subjects. People who are visual often think differently and there are different types of intelligence, but this is not always understood.

“Excuse the industry pun, but hairdressers come to believe ‘they are not worth it’, that they are not valued like doctors and other professions. Clients do not think that way. The hairdresser does not recognise the power they have over these people’s lives.”

He said he would build up a knowledge of a client to create hair styles that would say something about them.

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‘I don’t want people walking out of the salon thinking they are Kate Moss.’

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So with a male dancer with barely any hair he added extensions that ‘danced’ around his body. For a transgender man struggling to become a woman he created an androgynous look that made him feel comfortable about himself.

He firmly rejected a suggestion that hairdressers should “sell dreams”.

“The hairdresser should sell them the person they are, not the person they want to be. I don’t want someone walking out of the salon thinking they are Kate Moss. I want them to be themselves, or for a new hairstyle to help them understand something about themselves.”

The Festival, which runs until Sunday, is organised by Anna Freemantle-Zee and has attracted a number of top names, including fashion designer Stella McCartney who will be giving two talks, Adam Welch of MR PORTER, Holli Rogers, chief executive of Browns, Azza Yousif of Vogue Hommes and Le Monde’s Alice Pfeiffer.

There are several free symposiums at venues around the city including the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal College of Surgeons, ECCI and the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria. They will be offering an insight into how the sector has evolved and what issues are shaping fashion and lifestyle brands.

Anna, a model, was inspired to launch the country’s biggest celebration of the industry in Edinburgh as she believes Scotland holds a lot of talent and offers an abundance of networking opportunities.

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