Mane Master: Neil Moodie
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Neil Moodie has been an editorial stylist for more than 20 years and has worked with photographers like Juergen Teller, Mario Testino, Corinne Day, celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Emma Watson, and Kate Moss and brands like Versace, Burberry, Gucci and Armani. His experimentation with various textures and his trademark style of mixing contemporary, graphic elements with classic fundamentals keeps him in high demand. He is co-creator of WAM hair tools and one half of Windle & Moodie, a London salon with a product line that was released in 2014 under the same name.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I began learning to do hair in 1984. I worked in a salon for 10 years including my 3 year apprenticeship. After 8 years of cutting hair in various Central London Salons, in 1991 I switched to being a colour technician for Toni & Guy in their Kensington Salon in London. In 1992 I met photographer Corinne Day (who shot Kate Moss for her first ever Vogue cover) through a mutual friend and I began to colour her hair for her. Corinne and I got friendly and we shared a lot of the same interests in music and fashion. She asked me to colour a models hair for a shoot she was doing for then British independent style bible The Face magazine. 2 Days before the shoot Corinne called me and said the hairdresser she had booked for the actual shoot had pulled out and she didn’t have anyone to do the hair. Seeing as I coloured the models hair ( I bleached her whole hair blonde and deliberately left her with 1 inch roots) Corinne said I knew the vibe so could I come and style it too. I took a day off sick from T&G- it was on a Saturday and it was the cardinal sin to call in sick- and I went to do the shoot. 3 months later the shoot was published. I coloured the ends of the models hair pink and we did one picture where her hair was like a giant mohawk with pink ends and the response was phenomenal. Within one week of the shoot being published I was booked to do Italian Vogue in Milan with new model Stella Tennant and was asked to take my pink hair colour with me.
My next job was the Miu Miu campaign with Corinne. I didn’t really quite realize how big this was as a career changing moment for myself, as Miu Miu was a new line back then and I didn’t really understand the importance of it. I soon found out. The rest is history really.
What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges for me was working on fashion shows. I avoided them like the plague for quite a few years in the early stages of my career as I’d assisted on a few in the past and just thought it was like a bunch of headless chickens running around chasing their tails, shouting and screaming at everybody. It just wasn’t me. I’m generally a pretty calm person so for me this atmosphere was not conducive with my personality. I was constantly being requested to do them and my agent, after 5 years of pushing and coxing, finally persuaded me to do one. I decided that I needed to approach it in my way and not be drawn into the madness. My approach in my head was: Someone else’s madness doesn’t have to be mine too. This worked for me and now I’m constantly being told I’m one of the calmest people backstage by both designers and my team. I hate unwanted stress and unnecessary shouting and screaming so I just don’t partake in it.
Who are some role models who have inspired you?
Corinne Day was a huge role model for me. She taught me how to work and behave on photoshoots. In the early days I was like a dear in the headlights as I had been thrust into it a little unprepared. She became my mentor. I’ve always admired Sam Mckinght, Julien D’ys, Odile Gibert and Guido for their endless talent, and I love the fact they are all still going now. My work is nothing like any of theirs ( I don’t believe in copying) but I hope I’ve got even just a small part of the recognition they’ve achieved for what they’ve done in the field of hairdressing and freelance work.
Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
I find it hard to describe my work but a journalist once summed it up quite well I thought. It went something like this: I push the boundaries of hairstyling by re-appropriating classic looks with the use of textures and re-structuring shapes to give the hair styles I do a contemporary feel. I hope that doesn’t sound too pretentious.
What was the last major makeover you did?
I recently was asked to give British model Rosie Tapner a whole new look by her agent. After a big successful start to her career (Balenciaga, Chloe, and numerous Vogue shoots to her name) Rosie was feeling burnt out and took 2 years off to go to Uni. For Rosie’s comeback season this Autumn and with the help of one of the colorists from my salon, I took Rosie’s long, natural, mousey brown hair and cut it into a razored deconstructed Bob with a long fringe ( bangs). We then coloured her hair platinum, creamy blonde with slightly darker shades underneath and with a deliberate 0.5 inch root re-growth with Debbie Harry from Blondie as the inspiration (reminiscing back to my first shoot days). She’s turned into the ultimate Rock chick overnight and everybody’s loving it.
Which hair products or tools are always in your kit?
Windle and Moodie products (of course), WAM electrical hair tools. Mason and Pearson Brushes, Japanese round bristle brushes & YS Park combs, Human hair extensions by either American Dream or Hairaisers in London & Helena’s in NYC. Japanese Oni and Neji hair pins. My bespoke handmade wigs by the amazingly talented Amanda Rudkin ( I’m super lucky, as she won’t make them for anybody else)
What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration?
I rarely use Instagram for inspiration. People whose accounts I like, which I find entertaining or interesting but not necessarily Inspirational for hair are: Wendy Rowe, Melanie Ward, Glen Luchford, Joe Wickes the Body Coach, Lost Hairdressers, HowToBeARedHead.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Learn to meditate. I’ve just started and I’m annoyed that I’ve started so late. I probably would have got through situations in the past much easier if I’d worried less.
What advice would you give to new stylists?
Learn all the basics thoroughly…….. These days young people are in such a rush to be instantly successful and famous (weirdly) that they want to skip the graft of training…… the problem with that is that your work speaks louder than you in the end. It’s ok being able to talk the talk, but can you really walk the walk. It’s like saying you can tightrope over the Niagara Falls but only have one or two training sessions for it beforehand. Also, never think you know everything. We never stop learning. I’m always looking for new techniques to learn and perfect. Always think you can do better. This helps me strive for more and not be too complacent with what I’ve done.
What’s the next chapter for you?
I have no idea – ask me in 10 years time.
Be sure to follow @NeilMoodie for more #manespiration.