An introduction to avant-garde hair

We’re used to seeing avant-garde hairstyles sported by various models on the catwalk, celebrities walking the red carpet and designers making a statement, but often we’re left thinking, what makes a hair style avant-garde?

Here at Lush we’ve gone back to the basics and interviewed hair stylist and main grade lecturer in hairdressing and postiche, Sara Christine Bloom, to put you in the know for everything avant-garde hair related.

Avant-garde hair is an experimental treatment of hair that is often quite daring and revolutionary, it can be created through using traditional techniques and adjusting them in an unusual way or devising a completely new technique.

Whether it’s a flourishing flower hair band, a bountiful beehive or a quintessential 50’s quiff – anything that makes your hair stand out is labelled as avant-garde.

Sara told Lush: “Avant-garde hair to me is like couture fashion, it can be totally absurd, clever or abstract, it’s a form of art.

“Like couture fashion, many designers are portraying the outrageous or dramatic and this is often diffused so the general public can wear the image in a more commercial way.”

Finding inspiration

Sara currently works at Liverpool Community College and has been working with hair since she was a young teenager, living in London, Paris, Spain and even styling the likes of Anna Wintour and Jerry Hall’s hair.

Sara has worked for Jean Marc Maniatis, Mod's Hair De Rennes, and later worked for Peter and Andrew Collinge group in Liverpool.    

Sara added: “I encourage my students to research and find hairstyles they admire, and then try to work out how they have been constructed by breaking down the techniques.”

With Vivienne Westwood’s Gold Label Spring 2014 show that displayed hair swept in leaves and lavish flower head pieces, and BBC3’s Hair that challenged amateur contestants to style hair into extravagant sculptures – avant-garde hair is ‘in’.

Although it may be perceived as a new art, avant-garde hair has in fact been popular amongst creative individuals for decades.

History lesson

In the 18th century Queen Marie Antoinette was desired by many due to her influential and daring styles in both hair and fashion that she brought to France.

In recent day the late Isabella Blow, a magazine editor and fashion scout, was renowned for her avant-garde hair and absurd hairpieces such as her iconic lobster hairpiece that influenced many creative individuals.

Lady Gaga is just one of the creative individuals who was inspired by Blow and has sported her own adaption of the infamous lobster hairpiece, Gaga has also portrayed other styles such as her notorious bow made out of hair.

Creating competition

Inspired by avant-garde hair Lush decided to organise an avant-garde hair competition that challenged Liverpool Community College Level 3 theatrical special effects hair and media make-up students.

The aim of the competition was to create an avant-garde hairpiece that was inspired by a Lush hair product and this could include ingredients, product name or ethos used in the product.

Lush also asked Sara to contribute an image of her interpretation of a Lush avant-garde hairpiece, using myself as a model, to demonstrate to her students and the public what could be created.

Sara decided to focus on Fairly Traded Honey shampoo as it reminded her of living in Uganda as a child and seeing honeycomb tunnels alongside the road.

Sara said: “I named my look the ‘Beehive Honey’, so the styling was to depict the cone shape of the African beehive and the 1960’s beehive hairstyle. 

“I wanted to do something that I hadn’t seen or created before and when I looked at the pattern of the hexagonal honey comb, I thought I could replicate this by crocheting with hair.”

The beehive took Sara six weeks to build and the beehive cage was covered with synthetic hair and crocheted to mimic the honeycomb pattern, my own hair was also crocheted and used to make flowers.

Since being involved with the avant-garde hair project and working closely with Sara my perception into avant-garde hair has changed significantly, I now see avant-garde hair as a form of creative expression and it has taught me to be more creative with my own hair.

Sara encourages people to seize exciting opportunities and added: “My advice to young hair-stylists and make-up artists is to be a sponge and soak it all in, you never know where life may take you.”

Don’t be afraid to make the most of your hair, as you never know where it might lead you.

"Avant-garde hair is like couture fashion, it can be totally absurd, clever or abstract, it’s a form of art."

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about 5 years ago

Fantastic work from my students! Anyone interesting in learning techniques? I will be running a course called 'Extreme Hair' this September @ The City of Liverpool College. An open evening at 6pm on Monday 23rd June at our Duke street site. See you then........
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