Posted by Stephan Moskovic | June 3rd, 2010
With a laid back attitude and innate skill for creating beautiful looks, Duffy has risen through the ranks to become one of the industry’s most in demand hairstylists. His intricate and inventive styles can be seen everywhere from runways to the pages of Dazed and Confused, i-D and American Vogue and when you see the artistry he puts into his work it is easy to understand why. Models.com catches up with the man himself to talk style, art, and what it is like to pull wild snakes out of Raquel Zimmermann’s hair.

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

A Models.com interview by Betty Sze and Janelle Okwodu

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.

Raquel Zimmerman / US Vogue / Photo: Norman Jean Roy

Karlie Kloss / US Vogue / Photo: Annie Leibovitz

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.

Raquel Zimmerman / Alexander McQueen S/S 10 / Photo: Nick Night

Photo: Alexi Lubomirski / Last Magazine

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.

MDC: Have you ever given any models crazy haircuts?

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!

Duffy’s lower east side hair salon: Tommy Guns
138 Ludlow St
(between Rivington St & Stanton St)
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-1151

27 Comments to “Duffy”

  1. natasha says:

    Oh what a great read! thanks so much

  2. ingo says:

    duffy is the nicest person i’ve ever met…i did a few jobs with him in germany……….

    he is professional,funny,cool and very creative……..

    thank you for everything duffy!!!!!!i know this is just the beginning of a big career!

  3. alfie says:

    duffy is a legend, such a talent and a top fella aswell! He’s going to go on to become one of the greats…

  4. alfie says:

    duffy is a legend and such a nice guy, hes going to go on to become one of the greats

  5. Bola says:

    Seems like a nice, easy going guy who does not take things to seriously

  6. Duffy makes a really cool impression. He makes an amazing job. His works are really nice. There will be much much more in the coming. I’m sure.

  7. chungkit says:

    Great interview. What a talent with such an impressive portfolio! http://www.chungkitblog.wordpress.com

  8. D says:

    cool guy, sets a great standard for the industry.

  9. Josephine says:

    Oh, amazing! His work is absolutely stunning, he seems like a fantastic guy. <3 Duffy!

  10. laura says:

    love that first pic great work!


  11. akos says:

    Amaaaazing work ,all these images here deserve only one credit: thats Duffy……its a crime almost that the photographers are even mentioned in these images above, they haven’t really contributed anything else besides a softbox-flasah and a camera, compared to Duffy who seems to have created 100% pure Art content here…

    Food for Thought… 😉

  12. coco says:

    who knows.what’s his full name?

  13. keith says:

    DUFFY IS THE TRUTH…I love his thought process on creative work and his respect for team work… mos def a cool guy.

  14. marina says:

    Raquel is amazing like always…

  15. coldpeer says:

    Nice… ;o

  16. Marcus says:

    duffy’s so talented. especially when it comes to really creative shapes and use of abstract textures. really nice guy. great feature and interview!

  17. Alex Le says:

    rest in peace duffy, truly an artist. this article came at a rather coincidental time…

  18. Alex Le says:

    aw dang i’m a mess. i somehow got duffy confused with the photographer brian duffy who passed away this week.

  19. Pavel says:

    Does anyone know where the first two photos came from, the one with the powder?

  20. Matthew says:

    Coco – I know him if you want to work with him


  21. Gino Ginelli says:

    Dude is a total leg-end… I heard he is a genuine time-travelling viking and cuts mortal’s hair with a pair of axes instead of scissors.

  22. Martha says:

    I agree Gino, he’s a LEGEND. Great guy, great work.

  23. vanessa says:

    Love his work and those photos!!! + seems like a really cool creative guy to work with



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