Residing in the UK, John Frieda expert Nicola Clarke, started her career in 1987, coloring the likes of Uma Therman, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Moss. She is also a famed stylist, working to create looks for several box office hits including Triple Nine, Mordecai, Revolutionary Nine, The Reader, Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Shakespeare in Love.
Lorri Goddard, a Los Angeles based hair colorist known to color Jennifer Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, famously took Kim Kardashian from her raven hued dark hair to a bold platinum shade just before Paris Fashion Week this year. Co-owner of Goddard and Bragg Salon in West Hollywood, Lorri is known to be at the forefront of the balayage movement, flying all over the world to teach classes on the subject.
Residing on two opposite sides of the globe, Lorri and Nicola share many of the same clients. We got these two talents on the phone to talk about everything from hair color, balayage, inspiration, and being on tour with Madonna! See what a conversation between two hair color whisperers looks like below.
NICOLA: So, I’ve known of you, Lorri, obviously because of being part of John Frieda and previously from the clients you do– and I’m severely jealous that I missed your workshop! I think you had just done your workshop at the John Frieda in the UK, come over from LA- so I was so disappointment that I came at the wrong time when you were doing your balayage workshop. I feel it’s not really a question [I have], but it’s more of an admiration. You’ve kind of opened the floodgates- just a different way of me being a colorist. So it wasn’t really a question that I wanted to ask you about, it was I just kind of wanted to tell you how you changed me being a colorist. I think in London, or in the UK, …we’re known- and are quite good at, doing foils and being very sort of precise. I think just having that Vidal Sassoon history is just in our veins- whether you’ve done the training or not. But the balayage for me was more about being an artist, being freehand, and such an eye opener for me. And in the beginning when I had first started doing it, it was just so hard to break all the training that I’ve learned over the years, to not mess anyone’s hair up, and I had to completely put my foil life in a different section than my balayage life- and in the beginning that was so hard to do.
NICOLA: So is that how you trained? Were you first doing foils or was balayage incorporated into your first working life as an assistant?
LORRI: Well first of all Nicola, I’m such a huge fan of your work. I remember when we were working for Madonna together and you and I had never met- and at that time I had actually just gotten married and had hyphened my last name to Clarke, and I was so excited that we both had the last name Clarke! And I just loved watching your work.
LORRI: But it was so wonderful to be on your team and on Madge’s team together. I felt like we were both carrying that torch together. It was such a fun connection, although I was very sad that I had never been able to meet you in person, and I’m hoping that one day we will still be able to do that. So I’m hoping! Even on Instagram, I get to follow your amaaazzzing work. I mean, really Nicola, you are such a banner, a talent, and your children are so cute! I love your dear babies- they are just so darling!
NICOLA: Isn’t it just amazing, Instagram? It’s how I speak to you, it’s how I speak to Tracey, it’s how I speak to other hairdressers that I would never get to meet.
LORRI: It’s so true.
NICOLA: Being in hairdressing, I think gone are the days when everyone is guarded and jealous (I mean, obviously you do still get a bit of that), but I just feel it really liberating. I just love being with other hairstylists, other colorists, I just find such a learning process that we go through. I feel lucky that I’m able to work for people like Sam McKnight and people like Peter Grey, and all those kind of people- it’s just brilliant!
LORRI: Yeah, I mean you referred Iggy Azalea to me, I know Kate Hudson, who I work with goes to you. It’s so cool that people that we work with have literally globe trotted- we are so blessed. There’s such a great team of us, and we get to get flown to different locations, and when that’s not happening it’s great to know that we can pass that torch, or I guess ‘pass the sunshine’ since we’re colorists, so I’m honored to be on your team and to be part of that. It’s very exciting.
But going back to how I first started with my techniques, Nicola. I started, just like you, with foil! I started doing highlights and lowlights and then this gentleman that I had worked with way way back in the day, I think I was 20, had come back from a hair show and said “oh there’s this new technique called hair painting and it’s the new thing and you’ve got to do it.” Well at that time, I wasn’t able to go to those kind of shows, I’m a self made person and I waited tables to pay my bills, was trying to build my clientele, and was just working to make ends meet at that time, but I always wanted to always be in the flow. So I watched-at that time it was videos- of Sebastian and Gary Pizenza, just trying to have the food of hair color, [I was] on fire with passion, and just wanted to do a great job for my clients. I started just freehanding the lowlights Nicola, because I was too afraid to do the bleach. So I just did the bleach highlights and the balayage lowlights until I started getting comfortable. Funny enough- I do that technique still! I call it foilyage, and it’s a combination of foils and balayage together. But then, I began working at Jose Eber and these amazing woman, Nicola and this other woman Roxanne who had been trained at Bruno Dessange Salons. So after I started working there, I was really observing them doing the balayage with bleach. Then I was able to really gear in and was really inspired from watching both of those ladies. That’s when I started doing the balayage highlights. So that’s how I got into that. Now I just do the balayage highlights and my lowlights still in foils.
NICOLA: Yeah…that’s really weird because that’s what I do as well. I’ll do balayage highlights and then put the darker ones in the foils.
LORRI: The same process, we just sort of did that together, didn’t we?
NICOLA: That’s so weird, right? I mean from across the pond and never ever meeting each other.
LORRI: Hahahaha, I know! It’s amazing! And to think of all the people that we’ve worked with so similarly, and that’s what we do. That’s amazing, so exciting and fun. We both have to start using the hashtag #foilyage, hahaha!
NICOLA: Haha we do! And it’s amazing because everyone that has come to me from you has absolutely sang your praises. I think it was Kate Winslet who said you absolutely geniously changed her hair. She had quite wrecked hair. Was it you who changed her hair from red to blonde?
LORRI: I don’t really remember, it was when they were doing the film, I don’t remember but it was she and Cameron Diaz.
NICOLA: Oh, The Holiday.
LORRI: Yes, it was that one. Frieda Aladossa, who just thinks your work is amazing and is such a great film stylist. You know how it is Nicola, sometimes something just goes awry and you get a phonecall and we get to bring our bag of tricks and try to translate what people are going for. I love watching the way you make the hair light up so beautifully in different areas and you keep the condition of the hair. What inspires you when you do you work? Where do you get your inspiration from?
NICOLA: You know what, the funny thing is, I’m always sort of insecure- because there’s so many different levels and different avenues and places you can go with hairdressing. I don’t know why, but I always sort of beat myself up over the fact that I love beautiful natural hair. I don’t know why, but I guess that it’s because we are a part of the hair world where we are always so image aware, I just beat myself up over the fact that I never really did crazy or wacky stuff- and I think that maybe I should be doing that. But I just kind of enjoy being able to make someone just, in my opinion, just make them look beautiful. And to make it so that the hair is not completely fried. It’s just a natural beauty. I think that now that I’m in my 40’s that I don’t beat myself up about that so much. I just do what I hope is natural, gorgeous, sexy, beautiful hair!
LORRI: Nicola, you really do that though. You achieve it.
NICOLA: Aw, thank you…
LORRI: You aim for that and you absolutely achieve it.
NICOLA: I did do crazy things to my own hair when I was younger. But I think that I’m more at home with myself when I think, you know what, you don’t need to do ridiculous things to other people’s hair. I quite enjoy making people feel beautiful.
LORRI: Well I think it goes back to you when you said, and for myself to, that with the balayage we found an art form. Our canvas is the hair, that’s how I look at it also, I like to think about the canvas and taking the person from one color to another. I think that some people are inspired by Picasso, some people are inspired by Monet, there are so many ways to take the movement and the strands, and I think that nature and natural people, enhancing a person’s superpowers so that you see them and not always the hair color coming first. Sublety is a talent, it really is.
NICOLA: You know what does inspire me? Nature.
LORRI: Yeah, me too.
NICOLA: Other colorists, other hairdressers, and the washes that photographers put over people’s hair.
NICOLA: The funny thing is people will come in with pictures and you know that you have done that hair or someone else had done it and it didn’t look like that. Pushing myself inspires me. Pushing myself to be up there with the best and to be held in regard to the other great colorists. I just feel like I’m quite proud that my name stands out and that we can reach across and speak to each other. That inspires me, you know?
LORRI: It’s so amazing. I think it’s really cool also because you also do styling, correct?
LORRI: I really admire that about you. It’s something I’ve never been- I mean I can do a child’s haircut, and I can cut someone’s bangs. I know about proportion, but that fact that you actually are on set so much. You have taken the creative process, not only do you do the coloring, but you do the styling.
NICOLA: That’s maybe a good question. How did you decide that you wanted to be a colorist?
NICOLA: How did you make that decision?
LORRI: Well, I was doing everything, but when I went to work at Jose Eber they said you have to choose color or cut. My good friend at the time, we went to beauty school together, and Raymond Branshaw, a friend- he had a Louis Voiutton bag before I even knew what one was, haha! We always thought of each other as colorists. I don’t know what it was, or why, it was just our thing in beauty school. I always had very blonde hair naturally and I never liked it. I never liked ‘oh you’re a blonde.’ Or ‘oh, you’re a tow head,’ growing up. I don’t know why, but I was just very embarrassed. Propbably because my mom was a brunette and I always wanted to be like her. So my mission in cosmetology school days was finding the perfect lowlight, hahaha! Literally, I’m not kidding. I must have poured over 1,000 strands. So somehow that began that foray. It was such a curiousity. When I first started working at my aunt’s salon over the summer as a receptionist, I would sit in on some of the color classes. Some of the stylists, this was really a big thing for me, people would try to call in for a corrective color and I would try to book them in with a colorist who would say, ‘oh no, I don’t do that,’ and I didn’t understand why they were so afraid of it. Then I had this amazing teacher in cosmetology school, Mr. Chandler, who said, “don’t be afraid of color. If you aren’t afraid of color, you’ll have a step up from other people who might be afraid of color.” That was a long time ago, but I wanted to be one of those people. I didn’t want to be afraid. I thought that if I did that then I would have a niche that other people weren’t willing to do, then I could build a clientele. Does that make sense?
NICOLA: Yeah, definitely. It’s funny because you obviously have a passion, but you did get guided in a certain way.
LORRI: Yes, that’s very eloquent. That’s true. You’re right.
NICOLA: Maybe it would have always come out. But I’m the same way. I’ve always loved styling. My heroes are people like Sam McKnight, Vogue Magazine. I love styling. I worked at this really influential uptown hotel in London where there were a lot of American clients [when I first started].
LORRI: How was that? Did you enjoy it?
NICOLA: Oh, I absolutely adored it! We had big people come in. I just felt like I was in another world! It was heaven for me. I just loved doing everything. I was really lucky that I had an old fashioned really amazing hairdresser called Robert Wright, who is one of my best friends still, and he’s 70.
LORRI: I’ve heard of him before!
NICOLA: He just whipped my ass and I just absolutely loved him for it. I think just kind of, the same way you did, I didn’t know much about color, but once you’ve mastered foils, there’s all these rules, then you can go off and there’s this whole other world!
LORRI: You learn the rules so you can break them.
NICOLA: Exactly! Women would come in, and I’d watch them, they’d be disappointed that there hair was too long or too short and I realized I could change the way they feel with hair color. At that time hair extensions were really clunky, they were pretty ugly, they took hours to do, and I thought, why am I going to stand here, cut this woman’s hair, and what if she is unhappy. But if I take her red and she doesn’t like it, I can take her back to blonde in half a day. I think maybe colorists love a challenge. We always used to get spoken down to, told what to do, and in the past 15 years I think those times have changed. We don’t have stylists telling us what colors to do. People come to us to have their hair colored and then we get to recommend stylists for them. It’s changed so much from what it was 20 years ago.
LORRI: I remember that Nicola, you’re right. I remember working for people like that. Stylists would come over from France and I didn’t understand. I’m a team player, bottom line. Let’s make people feel their best, let them be gorgeous inside and out, and I think people are often times going through difficult times, maybe they lost a loved one, are going back to school, changing career, and I feel like color is about empowerment in that capacity. I remember stylists would come up to me and say things like, “well if we were in France, or London, then it would have to be like this.” And I remember thinking, “Well, we’re not. We’re a team. Let’s do this together.”
NICOLA: Oh, another question I had for you. Did you write a book about color?
LORRI: Oh I did. I did. I mean, it was such a long time ago. It was published in 2007. I was working with John Frieda and they had done these different products for people at home, and my mom didn’t live near me, and she wanted to do her regrowth on her own. I would give her professional color, but sometimes she would run out and pick up L’Oreal and Clairol, or something readily available in the supermarket. I wanted to help people who were not necessarily able to go to a salon. It was about taking that area that already existed, because product companies created that, and then just trying to help people troubleshoot that. It was a recipe book for at home colorists. I really just wanted to help people by giving them the tools, kind of like a chef. In that way, Nicola, I think we really are chefs, you know, we add spices of red, etc. But that was back in 2007, so it feels like a long time ago.
NICOLA: See that for me is like, woa. As soon as I left school, I was like, “okay, that’s behind me!” I admire anyone that can sit down and educate.
LORRI: Oh yeah, it was a big undertaking for me. But I’m glad I did it. It was nice to share some of the information. Because there are people that only go to the salon, and there are people that will never go to the salon. They like doing it on their own. Just like some people will never hire a private chef, some people like to cook at home. So I just tried to take that and help create a language.
What do you think are the new trends are for fall?
NICOLA: I think for me, we always have to do our trends, obviously we take a lot of inspiration and guidance from what is going on in the campaigns. Also I find that in hair, just like in fashion, it goes around in, I don’t want to say in circles, but it’s either a long skirt or a short skirt…
LORRI: Or a chunky heel, or a stilleto…
NICOLA: I do feel like we go through rhythms. As soon as we get bored of chunky, we switch. The thing I always get asked, as I’m sure you do too, is about ombre and if it is ever going to go out. I think ombre, in a certain way, can be really beautiful. There’s ombre in nature, and especially you guys being in LA, color lifting up on the ends. I feel like it’s more moods. It depends what fabrics are on the catwalk. It’s like a mood, isn’t it? If there are bright prints, it’s about the hair being softer. Then if it’s bold prints, then I think let’s go for it, bright red hair! It just depends what’s going on in the fashion world and what people are feeling as well. It only takes one of your client’s, I don’t know, Gwyneth or Reese, to do something for a character, and everything thinks, “Whoa, Reese has gone brunette! Brilliant! Why didn’t we all go brunette!?”
LORRI: For fun, for fun. Pop culture so to speak.
NICOLA: It just depends what’s going on in pop culture, in film, in fashion, and they all tend to interlink and sometimes you’re involved in it and it’s not something that you’ve consciously done.
LORRI: Nooo, it’s accidental. You were there to do something for your client, you translate the look, you do your very best, it’s so true.
NICOLA: Or it’s something like, you’re so sick of doing superfine highlights so you think, let’s change things up and do something crazy.
LORRI: I’m really into the blended, softer…I like color blocking, but right now I’m much more into super soft, blended at the scalp, then moving into texture, at the ends. Nature, like what you were saying inspires you. There were these two little boys at the bank yesterday when I went in and takes you right back to that childlike hair, which never goes out of style. It’s beautiful, it’s natural, it plays off the eyes and the skin, the light and depth in different ways.
NICOLA: I was going to ask you another question as well, I know I get this and I don’t know if you do particularly, but do you get pigeonholed in the press as being a certain colorist?
LORRI: Does it happen to you?
NICOLA: If I’m around a bunch of beauty journalists, they always tell me I’m the girl to go to if you want to be blonde, and I’m always like, “no, I love doing reds and brunettes.” And then they ask me who is famous that you do brunette?
LORRI: I think that’s so unfair to base it off of the “celebrity.” Our clients come from all different walks of life. We could have a really cool fashion girl, a teacher, a mother, just because a person is famous and you get to see her color…I really relate to what you’re saying because if a person is famous and they’re blonde, it’s more obvious that they make it that color. Whereas a brunette may be a bit more subtle with her change, whether it’s a new gloss or varying tone. Whereas a bold blonde may make more of a statement where people then ask “who did it,” etc? It’s also fun to go blonde if it’s not natural to you! It’s a fun change.