An MDX interview with hair stylist Duffy
Photos courtesy of Duffy
Cover photos: Simon Emmett (left) Alexi Lubomirski / Wonderland Magazine (center)
Duffy is represented by Tim Howard Management in NY and Premier Hair & Makeup in London
MDC: Can you tell us a bit about how you got started doing hair?
D: I got started doing hair very young, actually. I was about thirteen years of age, sitting around the breakfast table with my mum, dad and my brothers and it was as simple as my big brother saying that I ought to become a hair dresser since I was always messing around with my hair. I got a job in a local barbershop and I was quite happy sweeping up and making eight pound a day. Then my mum made me write a letter to Vidal Sassoon in London. At the time I had no idea what they were, but they offered me a job while I was still at school, so I left school early and went and did a 3 year apprenticeship with them. During those years I realized that there was possibly more to doing hair than what I’d seen.
When I came back I started working with Russell at Tommy Guns and he gave me the opportunity to earn a bit of money and do a bit of session work. It is really hard when you first get started, you spend ninety percent of your time doing everything for free and ten percent of your time surviving and earning your rent. I met Eugene Souleiman through a friend when I was seventeen years of age and he invited me along to a couple of shows. It seemed like the right thing to do and it seemed like the fun thing to do. The salon is a great place to be, but unfortunately I’m one of these people who constantly need more.
MDC: For a hair stylist, what is the difference between doing a show and doing editorial work?
D: Editorially it is usually a really small team and you work together collectively. I suppose there is a lot of pressure on you to produce, but you also have the time and creative freedom to control everything and make sure it is exactly how you want it to be.
Shows are more about trust; you need to have a team that you can trust and a team you can work with. You’re putting creative views into their hands and they can interpret that however they want, but they have to be on the same wavelength as you. I guess shows are a lot more stressful because they are high energy and there is a real time limit to them. You really have to trust your team, if they are having a bad day, even if you’re having a great day, you’re not going to get the finish you want or the look you originally intended. I am lucky that I can trust everyone that I work with when I do shows.
MDC: What would you say are some of your favorite shows or editorials you’ve done?
D: I don’t know if I can settle on one specific thing – there are milestones, first big job, first time getting flown out and working on location, first fashion show, but for me, it is more about the people you meet and the opportunities you have. I love hair but hair isn’t my whole world. This industry and the opportunities that this job presents me with get me so much more than just creating a hairdo. If it was just hair maybe it would be a totally different thing for me, but I know for some people, it’s just about hair.
MDC: That is a really great way to look at it though. If it were just hair then it might get dull after a while.
D: I think so, hair is a huge part of what I do and a lot of my friends, through the nature of what I do, are hair dressers, make up artists or stylists. I think it is the creative thread that runs through everything that we do that brings like-minded people together. That is why the art world and our world cross over so well, it’s so compatible.
MDC: Tell us a bit about the McQueen campaign – what was it like working with the snakes?
D: Alexander McQueen was an incredible person, god rest his soul. I really love working with creative people like that and just being in the studio with them. Raquel is amazing as well, that month I think I spent every Friday with Raquel and it ended in that crescendo of her being covered in 20 or 30 snake; boa constrictors, Indian pythons, there were all kinds. At the beginning of it I literally couldn’t go anywhere near them, 20 hours later at 4 in the morning I was pulling handfuls of snakes out of Raquel’s hair because they kept nestling in the back. I built up the courage to pull those snakes out of her and it was a great experience. The final product looked amazing, I think Nick Knight did an incredible job with the movie.
MDC: Is it different doing a film as opposed to doing an editorial?
D: Yes, totally. An editorial is two-dimensional and you can get away with a hell of a lot. When I create something two-dimensionally it can look amazing, but half the time you don’t even see the back of someone’s head so I can cheat a little. Moving to film is daunting in the beginning, because you become very safe within the two-dimensional world that is editorial hair.
The crossover are shows, which are three-dimensional and slightly more open to criticism because you’re seeing the entire thing and I think that relates into film. You have less control over how the hair looks on film. I did a reality job recently where they shot stills along a camera and there is a barcode on the stills and you show them to the computer and it activates the moving image of what you’ve shot so you go from two-dimensional to three-dimensional.
MDC: Who are some models that you think have great hair?
D: They’ve all got great hair after I’ve done it! I think Raquel’s got amazing hair, from what she’s put it through with color changes and all the shows that she does. Raquel’s got the kind of hair that I like to work with; it has tension to it, it has life. Every girl is different, but if the hair is a little more knackered it actually helps us a bit more.
D: Crazy haircuts? The thing is a lot of the time you don’t actually get to cut the girl’s hair; you’re cutting hair that you’ve added or you’re cutting a wig. If I end up cutting someone’s hair off I end up getting into a lot of trouble, because a lot of big girls with contracts they need to look a certain way. It would be wrong for me and wrong for them. I did give Raquel’s pink hair for Vogue once and that was quite a big deal for me. Taking a girl’s who’s known for having this beautiful platinum hair and to have her allowing me to make such a drastic change was great. Then Anna running the picture with her hair pink, that was pretty good fun!