Originally written for The Hub Magazine. This is part 2 of my interview with Nina, part one can be found here.
Let’s talk about Nina’s Hair Parlour… how did that come about?
I was always interested in bygone eras, and through overdosing on Marlene Dietrich and Jayne Mansfield films I realized I couldn’t find a hairdresser to recreate the perfect 1930’s or 1950’s hair do. I searched high and low and nothing was available. Working as a period style consultant for the Young Vic Theatre at the time I definitely spotted a gap in the market. Around the same time the first burlesque club night opened in London. My dear friend – and owner of the famous “The Girl Can’t Help It” – Sparkle Moore started it all and following her lead several new clubs started appearing catering to vintage aficionados. At first I started working on my friends, then upcoming performers and as the circle widened more and more people searched after a fabulous vintage do! One of my ultimate inspirations was a guy who taught Vidal Sassoon his trade, hair coiffure impresario Raymond of Mayfair. He owned shops all over London in the 1950’s and I thought why not, it’s a good idea so let me follow in his footsteps!
The first Hair Parlour was set within walls of someone else’s salon in Waterloo, soon after the demand was so huge that I had to find staff and move somewhere bigger and more appropriate. I met Issidora our fabulous make-up artist, and suggested she join me on this venture and upon a friend’s suggestion we approached Alfies’ Antique Market in Marylebone, and they took a chance on us. Our top stylist Leila Mauro moved from Brussels to join us, Mark McCarthy took on the barbering and Sami Knight is our creative force. We have a superb team! We specialize in styles from 16th century until the 1980’s with a splash of avant-garde.
I love the history of our shared craft, particularly retro 1950’s hair, and the art and craft of dressing hair for both men and women. Do you think modern hairstylists are loosing touch with their roots (no pun intended)?
Absolutely! Hairdressing is a multimillion pound industry and it’s all about quantity of clients and quick turnover. I’ve previously worked as a salon manager before and it was 30 minutes per client… needless to say, I hated it! Vintage hair do’s take time to create and herein lies the experience itself… it can’t be rushed and has to be researched if you are to create something truly authentic. I am a rebel and the idea of lots of money and creating a chain is not my ultimate stimulant. I decided long ago to keep myself out of the corporate world so small, exquisite boutique style business is my aim. Quality and individuality over mass marketing and high street!
Nina’s Hair Parlour has Retro hair classes for civilians and professional hairdressers. What made you decide to do this?
Well, I thought there was no fun in having your hair done in a period style and then not knowing how to recreate it at home, so we do one- to-one classes for our clients and show them how to do three different styles. Now, they can look fantastic all the time. We still haven’t started the professional classes, we are pretty small and I am über busy so it’s very hard to organize classes at the moment. The team and I are going to sort that out very soon though!
What do you do in you spare time?
Brainstorm!!! I love what I do and cannot stop ideas pouring in, so I sketch a lot and it drives everyone mad!
In our last correspondence you mentioned you were off to Malaysia, was that for work or fun?
We were presenting Marko’s collection on STYLO (Stylo Fashion Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2010) in Kuala Lumpur and Issidora – my partner in crime – and I had a special appearance on their Hair Couture Show…loads of work but we had fun too.
What are you working on at the moment?
I have loads of shows planned with Marko, preparing for September’s Fashion Weeks and working on the new Stella Artois ads, Mad Men DVD launch and millions of photo shoots and editorials…. busy busy Nina!
And your plans for the future?
To do more shows and hopefully, buy a 1950’s Airstream, convert it in the hair salon and travel around States….like Nina The Queen of the Desert hahaha!