updated 24 Dec 2010, 18:55
user id password
Fri, May 14, 2010
Urban, The Straits Times
Email Print Decrease text size Increase text size
Mane effect
by Ian Lee

As the model with gravity-defying hair sashayed down the runway, I could not help myself. From my seat in the front row, I exclaimed to my neighbour, fellow Urban writer Rohaizatul Azhar: “I did that!”

The scene was Redken’s hair show, called The Amazing World Of Redken, which the brand staged as part of the Audi Fashion Festival at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza’s Tent@Orchard last month.

Although I am a fashion writer and style fashion shoots frequently, I had never been part of the backstage inner circle at a fashion festival before. When the chance to apprentice as a hair stylist for the Redken show came up, I simply could not resist.

Redken’s brand manager Raymond Tan briefed me three days ahead of the show and told me that the runway extravaganza would showcase a total of 34 looks and the talent of 20 hair maestros.

The preparations started early – 35kg of blonde, brown and black hair pieces made of real and synthetic hair were sculpted by the team of 20 three days in advance.

On the day of the event, work on the models’ heads started 12 hours before the show began – at 9am at Mandarin Hotel.

I had a relatively easy time, turning up at 6pm for two hours of backstage work.

There were three themes to the show – past, present and future. I was tasked to assist two top hairstylists – Casey Chua from Casey Inc and Eugene Ong from Urban Hair By Ginrich – in sculpting two of the hairstyles featured in the futuristic segment.


Things started off relatively smoothly. My first task was to secure a long hair wig, complete with bangs, onto a model and trim the fringe with scissors.

It sounded simple enough but it was my first time tackling a tight, delicate weave of artificial hair.

I cautiously stretched the piece over her head and fitted it snugly. Then I used a good 20 bobby pins to secure the do.

Perspiration was trickling down my face at this stage and a backstage crew member had to blow-dry my face with a hair dryer.

Observing my discomfort, Chua asked Redken’s Tan jokingly: “Why do you put him through this torture?”

Tan said to me: “Don’t need to be so kan cheong (Hokkien for stressed). Relax.”

Next, I shakily wielded a pair of shears to trim the fringe on the wig. The real professionals then proceeded to tease the limp wig into a wild explosive do. I then moved on to the tall order for the day. I was told to attach a 25cm “horn” of hair onto a model’s slicked-back natural hair.

I was informed by Tan that the piece was made of both real and synthetic hair. “Synthetic hair gives the hair piece volume, while real hair gives shape,” he said.

I asked hairstylist Ong: “How am I supposed to do this with just bobby pins?” He showed me how to use just 10 bobby pins, placed at strategic spots, to secure the hairpiece.

A generous application of hairspray later and, voila, the task was done. In the midst of all the follicular frenzy, I overheard one hairstylist say to another:

“Not bad, he’s got his heart in it and can work.” Not bad to be getting compliments on my first attempt, I thought.

Three hours later, it was showtime and I settled into my front-row seat, eager to see if my work could stand the test of the runway.

Out-of-this-world metallic foil dresses in a gamut of colours wrapped the bodies of the futuristically styled models, while everything from swinging balls to sculptural discs adorned their heads.

Then the familiar hair horns and explosive hair got their turn in the spotlight, with not a strand out of place.

After the show, Tan from Redken thanked me for a job well done. While I certainly would not call myself an expert by any stretch, I might just take up the challenge of styling hair at the next Urban fashion shoot.

This article was first published in Urban,The Straits Times.

more: hair, redken
readers' comments

Copyright © 2010 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.