There are few aspects of the hairdressing industry that have not been influenced by the creativity and expertise of Andrew Collinge. Descended from a line of hairdressers, starting with his grandfather, Collinge is an international spokesman for the hairdressing industry who continues to shape hair trends.
Collinge began his hairdressing career working with his father, Peter Collinge, in Liverpool, England, in 1974. A successful hairdresser, Collinge’s father was the founder of Peter Collinge Hair Salon. “My father became a very successful competition hairdresser in the 1960s. My mother was a model and his muse,” Collinge says. “Together they created Peter Collinge Hair Salon, which became a thriving salon group in the ’60s, where the likes of George Harrison’s girlfriend worked for us at the time.”
Collinge is the first to admit that study wasn’t his forte when he was a teenager, which is perhaps why his true passion was soon realised after he started working at his father’s salon every weekend.
“I entered a junior hairdressing competition in London and I made the final,” Collinge says. “That’s when I saw the bright lights and I thought, ‘You know, I want to do this.’”
Once the seed had been sown Collinge went on to complete his training in 1976 at prestigious London salon Michaeljohn, which was known for its celebrity following.
“The first lady I shampooed as a trainee was Margaret Thatcher,” Collinge recalls. “She was the leader of the Opposition at the time. I was washing her hair when she asked if I had voted. I was holding the nozzle over her head when I told her I hadn’t bothered to vote and she swung around so quickly that I soaked her face with water.
“‘Young man,’ she said, ‘I don’t care who you vote for, but you must always vote!’ It scared the life out of me, so much so that I still can’t stop voting – local elections, general elections, even Big Brother!”
Collinge went on to become Michaeljohn’s artistic director, working alongside avant-garde hairdresser Robert Lobetta, now the creative director of Sebastian Professional. “Lobetta mastered the most extreme creations – styles that took about six hours to create. His designs were very intricate and I’ve always taken inspiration from that,” Collinge says.
Marrying in 1980, Collinge and his wife, Liz, decided it was time to open their own salon and they returned to Liverpool in 1982. The third-generation hairdresser decided to rebrand his father’s salon group, Peter Collinge, as Andrew Collinge.
“I have great respect for my father,” Collinge says. “He had been hairdressing in Liverpool since 1947. It can’t be easy to see your own name come off the door.”
In addition to working on his ever-expanding group of UK salons, Collinge has created a wide range of hair products, which are available around the world. Not satisfied with what was available to salons and consumers, Collinge decided to create his own range, which includes specialised haircare and styling products to suit different hair types and colours.
With Collinge at the helm of the company’s product business and numerous salons, the enterprise that his father started more than 60 years ago is thriving. Yet, in expanding and adapting to the 21st century, it has never lost sight of its original principles. The Andrew Collinge training program, for example, was established in 1974 under the guidance of Collinge’s father, who, Collinge says, was always passionate about industry training.
As one of the most sought-after hairdressers in the world, Collinge is now enjoying one of the busiest and challenging times of his career and, it seems, he’s not planning to slow down any time soon.