Aaron Carlo is an Art Director for Headmasters and when he is not doing fashion and beauty shoots and tending to the locks of celebrities including Spice Girls Geri Halliwell and Melanie Chisholm, he works out of Headmasters flagship store in Soho. His life gets even more hectic twice a year during London Fashion Week. Here he reveals just what it is like to be in demand as a celebrity hair stylist…
As a session stylist no day is typical. I could be on a shoot with a magazine or celebrity, working a catwalk show at fashion week or have a day full of meetings about shoot concepts, trend reports or education development for Headmasters.
Today I’m co-directing the Headmasters hair team for the Richard Nicoll AW 2012 catwalk for Vodaphone at London Fashion Week, the call time is 8am so my alarm wakes me at 6am. First thing when I wake up is down as much water and vitamins as poss – gotta take care of yourself if your schedules as hectic as mine, plus it helps to ease whatever champagne induced grogginess I have when waking up! Then I feed Cat Moss, she’s a true diva, and double-check my kit bag has everything in it ready for the day. I leave the house at 7am, luckily I live near the venue and meet the team.
Working backstage is really manic so I make sure the team start setting up and go and meet the producer to go through the look for the day along with the make-up artist. The original hair brief was a low knot which was decided two days before, but as always with us creative’s we decided a ponytail was cooler and much more in keeping with the “every girl” feel of Richards collections. This meant I had to send one of my team out to pick up the right shade of hair band for all the different girls hair colours, it was CRAZY!
There is nothing glamorous about working on a show, two of you can be doing hair while someone else is doing make-up and another is doing nails, all while the producer is directing models for fittings. That’s why it’s really important to stay cool and be polite to everyone, there is no room for egos. Because the show is in conjunction with Vodafone the producers asked to interview me and the make-up artist about the looks, so halfway through the show there I was projected out for the whole audience to see. It’s stressy but I love this part of my job as you never know what’s gonna happen next which means you really need to be good at thinking on your feet and organised!
By 12 I grab something to eat, take a quick chance to check my iPhone and complete any quotes with the PR team, then jump in a taxi to a photoshoot with fashion icon and super model Erin O’Connor for Becauselondon.com. She was amazing, so friendly and a right laugh, she totally lit up on camera. Shoots are normally a lot more chilled but it’s still important to work fast. They wanted two different looks so we kept it really simple the first look was a smooth blow-dry to show off her amazing sharp bob, and the second was a wet look sleeked away from the face to show off her beautiful skin. It’s so inspiring when you work with someone who can draw on amazing modelling experience, I was totally in awe.
By 5pm I’m back on my phone checking emails, calling the PR team and planning up and coming jobs. My lovely friend, international DJ Jodie Harsh calls me to see if I can style a singer she is collaborating with on a dance EP. Turns out it’s only bloody Mel C from the Spice Girls. Now I don’t get star struck easily but I LOVED the spice girls growing up and still do so I jumped at the chance. I’ve worked on a Spice Girl before, Geri Halliwell, so obvs now we’re all like bezzie mates and I played it totally cool ha, ha. They say never meet your hero’s but I can safely say the Spice Girls live up to the hype.
One of my fav shoots was with my friend Lisa Snowdon all about the 100 coolest London nightlife people, which I was also asked to feature in. It was shot by legendary photographer Tim Brett Day who was really inspiring, but as there were so many people involved and we only had a limited time to get the shot. This meant there were four of us in a tiny room styling one of the loveliest most down to earth people I’ve ever met into this uber sexy goddess, it was hilarious but she looked so sexy!
Tonight I’m off to have cocktails with celebrity photographer Joseph Sinclair who I love working with and talk through upcoming shoots, then onto celebrity tanning guru James Read’s launch of his new products line, which I’m sure will be packed as he is a genius! People tell me to slow down but I’m obsessed by how amazing my job is… I can always sleep when I’m dead right?!
Aaron shares his top tips for breaking into the high-end of the trade
1. Be prepared to work for free. I still do it now and have been known to turn down paid work if it means getting to work with amazing people and get amazing pictures for my book.
2. Lose any ego. You can be the best in your salon but it means nothing when you get into the world of fashion so you’ll need to go back to being an assistant all over again.
3. Research. People think it’s all about playing with hair but so much of my time is spent looking at catwalk pictures, editorials and knowing the icons of each era because you need to know the references when coming up with looks.
4. Give up the idea of days off. I can work seven days a week sometimes but it’s just what you have to do to gain the experience while still paying the bills.
5. Never stop building you book. I’m never happy with how my portfolio looks, there’s always some other picture I’m wanting to get in there or something I’m not happy with.
6. Look back and appreciate. I’m so guilty of constantly thinking of what’s next and forgetting to be proud of what I’ve achieved and sometimes it can feel like you’re not getting anywhere so it’s important to recognise when you’ve done something well.
7. Practice. If there’s a technique you’re not confident doing keep practising it till you get it right. Zoe Irwin taught me that you never stop learning so don’t be embarrassed that’s there’s something you want to improve on.
8. Work with a great PR. It’s a bit cringe when you spend your life talking yourself up so try to work with the right people who will help guide your career in the right direction.
9. Find your own style. It’s important that you can do every look required but it’s always good to have your own signature way of doing things so it always looks like your work
10. Don’t believe the hype. When people praise me it makes me uncomfortable so I always just say thank you while secretly critiquing everything I do and looking at how I can improve things.