Owen Gould - elysium.e Interview

Freelance Hairstylist. OWEN GOULD

Editorial @ Vogue. Italian Amica. Oyster. (etc.)

" I’d like ta kiss ya, but I just washed my hair "

With humble beginnings involving a plastic chair and a blunt pair of kitchen scissors, Owen Gould has developed from playful practice in his own backyard to the high-end studio setups he now frequents. With a determined foresight, Owen quickly set himself up for a flourishing session styling career upon learning the classic hairdressing techniques. Moving to New York with an accomplished portfolio under his arm, he eventually honed his skills assisting the likes of Eugene Souleiman.

His works currently grace such publications as Vogue, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, Italian Amica, Lula, and Oyster. Editorial sets culminating in an impressive set of photographer associates, creative collaborations that involve working alongside some of the most exciting minds in the industry.

We cover several bases with this artistic typhoon, chatting about Bette Davis, DIY Hair and his affection for the odd glass of vino. With hair shot by Steven Klein and Mario Sorrenti, we also ask what other exciting tit-bits might be in the pipeline.

*Owen himself doing a very good job at matching the model, thats dedication if we ever did see it _

ElysiumEditorial: Your recent editorial stint for _ Vogue Taiwan _ really caught our eye. A set of visuals that illustrate a harmonized 'punk glamour,' with an occasionally displaced 'bob' reflecting the subtle attitude which underpins an impressive wardrobe. Would you kindly explain the way in which you approached the aesthetic achieved in the set?

OwenGould: The Vogue Taiwan job was a collaboration between photographer Ceen Wahren, stylist Emma Thorstand , makeup artist Linda Gradin and myself. The clothes were very much punk inspired and we felt that the hair needed to be reflective of that and at the same time be current with a bit of an edge. We decided to use a wig to achieve this look as the model had very long hair and We felt that to create a strong silhouette something short and angular would be more fitting to the story. After buying a wig, I cut and colored it in a way I felt a girl wearing those clothes would have her hair. We also shot at the beach so I wanted the color to complement her surroundings

EE: There’s nothing too architectural in your hair, no unnecessary building held internally by a system of scaffolding. We assume it’s important that your creations are entirely accessible?

OG: I have a great appreciation for structured hairstyles. The renaissance and turn of the century hairstyles are fascinating to me, both because of the intricacies and the amount of time they took to achieve. That being said I don't necessarily think that my creations need to be accessible but rather believable to the story that I'm trying to tell

EE: We’re well aware that often creating such effortless ‘glam’ is typically a labored task, what product is your current go-to aid?

OG: I use Sachajuan Hair Care for the majority of my editorial work. It’s one of the best lines I have come across. For volume I love the Ocean mist sprayed on the roots and blow-dried. It creates a strong foundation for any hair style. Another go-to is the Volume Powder, which is essentially a dry shampoo but does wonders if texture and height in the hair are desired. When applied on the roots and teased you can do no wrong

EE: Due to its very nature, hair is so incredibly fine and ‘fiddly,’ does manipulating such a canvas require a healthy store of calm and a patient hand? If so, is this a trade viable to a select person, or is this craft entirely accessible?

OG: I find that to be very true. Hair can be a fickle mistress, so it is important to know how to build a strong foundation for any hairstyle you are trying to create. A healthy store of calm and a patient hand are essential, otherwise it's easy to become frustrated and overwhelmed. Among other things, I think it takes a very dedicated and patient person to excel at this craft. It is by no means easy but if you have the passion and drive it has enormous rewards

*'At the Sea' in Vogue Taiwan _ Photography: Ceen Wahren _ Stylist: Emma Thorstrand _ Model: Valeria Dmitrienko _

EE: Such exquisite movement can be optimized through the hair, a sense of lightness often impossible to match through fabric – we assume this fluidity maintains priority in an editorial sense? Or do you find that the hair is often styled as an afterthought to the wardrobe?

OG: I think its important that all aspects are taken into consideration when creating an editorial. The Hair, makeup, lighting and location must all be carefully considered to create a truly exceptional set. If one of these elements is not done correctly it can ruin the story you are trying to tell. Occasionally, if its a hair story naturally the mane is the most important feature and should maintain focus. Other times it's the makeup or the clothes or the location that needs to be front and center so it's your job to adjust the hair to convey this

EE: As you develop beside your editorial career, we wondered what has to date been your most inspiring shoot?

OG: It's hard to say what has been the most inspiring shoot to date as each has been an opportunity for me to get inspired. I recently shot a menswear story for Commons and Sense magazine. The theme of the issue was the 1950’s which allowed me to play around with a variety of classic hairstyles such as The Pompadour, The Classic Fade and The Quiff. The result was a modern interpretation of hairstyles that are both classic and completely wearable for 2012

EE: Whom do you aspire to style, is there an individual that seems to optimise the way in which you approach and present your hair?

OG: I would have loved the opportunity to style Bidget Bardot. She had such beautiful hair and it always looked disheveled but in the most beautiful way. She always comes to mind when I think of my ideal subject

EE: Speaking of aspiration, do you have a set goal or a level of desired achievement?

OG: Throughout my career I have set a variety of different goals for myself. As I achieve them its been important to step back, reflect and make new ones. I think as hairdressers we have one of the best jobs in the world, I feel exceptionally grateful to be a part of this industry

EE: An imperative figure in the industry was once quoted as saying, ‘if you have a sense of style and purpose and a will you don’t want to compromise. You must always do what you feel is right.’ Would you agree, is there such a thing as a healthy dose of creative stubbornness?

OG: Being a hairdresser you encounter so many different personalities in this industry. What I think is important is to be able to listen and also to adapt to the people around you. It's important to have opinions but I really feel like it should be more of a collaboration. That doesn't always happen but for me that is the initial goal

*A few backstage glimpses for us through the eyes of Owen Gould _ Including a peek at his recent work for Commons and Sense Magazine (Bottom Right) _

EE: That same figure was also vocal about his work ethic, claiming ‘creating beautiful hair is not just my job; it’s my way of life.’ A little melodramatic perhaps, does work always trump play?

OG: I think when you decide to pursue any creative field full time it can feel like a way of life. As an artist I often take my work home with me and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I love what I do, but I make sure I allow enough time in the day for a bit of fun

EE: There’s a heavily branded aspect to the industry, an approach that seems to result in a cold corporate feeling (for example we now recognize many innovative hair stylists as directors to huge brands.) Is hair progressively becoming more of a robotic industry, instead of a vehicle to display ones vivid creativity?

OG: The industry is certainly more saturated then it was in the 90’s, but I don't think there is less opportunity to display ones creativity. In fact I think with advances in technology we now have more of an opportunity to share our creativity and inspirations with a larger audience

EE: Speaking of boundless creativity causing a stir in the industry, who would you site as the hair styling counterpart to Phoebe Philo of Celine?

OG: No one person comes to mind for that question but I think that there are a handful of exceptionally talented hairdressers out there who are pioneers of our generation

EE: On the catwalks this AW2012 we’ve seen a strong emphasis on a centre parting, healthy looking hair slicked back into an achievable ponytail. In an industry hectic with creative mind and thought, what looks do you personally see gaining momentum on the street?

OG: I see a lot of DIY hair on the streets. Overly perfect hairstyles are becoming less and less appealing. I think we are seeing hair that looks less 'set' and more lived in. Also pastel hair is big right now which I love, In high school I had a blue Mohawk and I've missed it ever since

EE: For anyone currently reading this text and considering the industry as a potential career route, do you have any stellar advice to impart?

OG: My advice to anyone considering this carrier is to find a mentor. Somebody to assist you through the industry and someone who's talent inspires you. It's a tremendous way to get a behind the scenes glimpse at how this industry works. Then you can decide if its something you really want

*'Renegades' in The Wild magazine _ Photography: Armen Djerrahian _ Stylist: Guillaume Boulez _ Models: Michael Tin tiuc, Bradley Soileau and João Zavaski _

EE: After your work, what is your best talent?

OG: I think I have a pretty good sense of humor. I enjoy making people laugh. We work so hard that it is good to keep it light and remember to laugh

Elysium(E): A place or state of perfect happiness – When are you at your happiest?

OG: I'm at my happiest after I’ve completed something that's really been a challenge. That and when I'm listening to music surrounded by family and friends. A glass of wine makes me pretty happy too

EE: To conclude, what one question had you hoped might be included in this interview, furthermore how would you answer said question?

OG: Q _ What’s your favorite quote.

A _ "I’d like ta kiss ya, but I just washed my hair" – Bette Davis as Madge in CABIN IN THE COTTON (1932)

*'Own the Night' in Amica Magazine _ Photography: Derek Kettela _ Stylist: Soraya Dayani _ Model: Jessica Clarke _

Owen Gould @ The Wall Group