Tickled pink

On Saturday night, Auckland’s Vector Arena hosted the L’Oreal Colour Trophy New Zealand awards. The slick event was MC’d by comedian Dai Henwood (nice catwalk moves Mr Henwood – never before have Achy Breaky Heart and crunking been attempted together), and showed fashion collections from the likes of World and Trelise Cooper.

The event culminated in the awarding of the Supreme Award – New Zealand Hairdresser of the Year 2013/14, which went to Wellington salon owner Rebecca Brent. We talk to Brent about her beginnings in the industry and what this new accolade means for her career…

MiNDFOOD: How did you get into hairdressing?

Rebecca Brent: I kind of fell into it. I had a baby when I was 22, and I needed a job. I’m from Wanaka and a local salon there was looking for someone to answer phones and wash hair. I loved working with people all day, and the hair. When I was 24 they offered me an apprenticeship and I jumped at it. I was a bit of a late bloomer. Someone once left a copy of Italian Vogue at my house, you never see something like that in Wanaka, and suddenly I could see the possibilities of what session hairdressing could do. I moved to Wellington and just lapped up everything around me, the people, the fashion, the competitions.

MF: So now you own your own salon – Willis York in Wellington

RB: Yes. The amazing thing is that the gentleman who I bought it off, Clark York, was the very first winner of the L’Oreal Colour Trophy 20 years ago.

MF: How many time have you entered L’Oreal Colour Trophy before?

RB: I’ve entered it for years, about 13 times, you just grow from each shoot you do. I’m now exposed to so much international stuff, I can see what’s needed to create a good image.

MF: Why are the Colour Trophy awards important in the industry?

RB: The basics of L’Oreal is colour, it’s the oldest colour house in the world, so it’s a huge accolade. [Winning] it opens so many doors for you. I’ve worked for L’Oreal for seven years now and I’m never bored. It’s always been a hairdresser’s favourite.

MF: Tell us about the look you created for your winning entry

RB: I went for a pixie crop, which is super cute, in an exquisite pink. It was a magic combination of the right model, the styling, and I had a really clear idea of what I wanted to do. Plus I really love pink. I also chose a haircut that could transcend from a 16-year-old to a 70-year-old.

MF: How do you think winning the New Zealand Hairdresser of the Year will impact your career?

RB: It still feels quite surreal. I always have lots of ideas, and now I will have the ability to do them and get listened to. It’s also great recognition for Willis York and inspiring for the great team I have working beneath me. My dream is to inspire the next generation of stylists, and also to push things forwards. You always have to give things your own twist. It’s also great because there’s not lots of well-known women in the hair industry.

Wellington hairdresser is crowned NZ’s best

Chosen from seven other Supreme Award finalists, Rebecca’s look impressed the judges with her technique, colour execution and beautiful result.

The L’Oréal Colour Trophy Awards were judged live by a panel of three top international stylists – NZ-born/Sydney-based Brad Ngata, Caterina DiBiase of Melbourne, and Adelaide-based stylist Damien Rinaldo.

Head judge Brad Ngata says “in a competition of this nature it’s important to see colour – and my eye was always drawn back to the colour execution of Rebecca’s look.”

Damien Rinaldo, a past L’Oréal Colour Trophy Award Winner says “beauty should defy ages, and this look does.  It has a cool freshness to it with an edge that pushes the look further.  You can really see there’s personality behind it.”

“Whilst being forward thinking it is very ‘now’ – people are asking for this look in salon,” says Caterina DiBiase, also a past Award Winner.

“This is a momentous occasion for Willis York as the salon founder Clark York won the very first NZ L’Oréal Colour Trophy Award 20 years ago,” says Gary Marshall, L’Oréal Professional Products Division General Manager. “All this time later they’re at the top again. It’s an amazing milestone.”

Runner-up in the Supreme Award was Jock Robson from Dharma, Auckland.

Two other individual awards and a team award were also announced. The Young Colourist of the Year Award for a stylist with five years or less experience went to Valeria Lenskaia from Bettjemans, Auckland, while the Men’s Image Award showcasing the best in men’s colour and style was presented to Sara Carswell from Blaze, Auckland.

The Salon of the Year Award went to Blaze, Auckland.

Two Special Awards were also announced including the Sunday Magazine Award which went to Natasha Dawson from Rodney Wayne Botany, Auckland while the Headway Magazine Award was presented to Blaze, Auckland.

Following a stressful live recreation, the winners were celebrated at a lavish awards ceremony at Vector Arena that also featured catwalk shows by New Zealand’s leading designers Trelise Cooper, COOP, WORLD and HUFFER.

L’Oréal Colour Trophy requires finalists to go head-to-head in a live competition and re-create their photographic entry on the day of the awards.

The judges score entrants on creative, fashion-forward hair colour, an innovative and striking cut, fashion-forward hair styling and finished with an overall look of fashion and make-up. The total look must reflect the expertise and ability of the stylist to create modern, bespoke look.