With extensive work with Wella and London Fashion Week under his belt, as well as winning British Hairdresser of the Year 2015, Darren Ambrose has carved quite the career through his skill in hairdressing.
Here we chat to Darren to discover more on his career within the business of hair.
When did you decide that becoming a stylist was going to be a full time profession? What is your first memory of appreciating / noticing really great hair?
I knew right from when I was a child of 8 that I wanted to be a hairdresser; it was in my family and my genes. I was lucky enough to start my career aged 17 at Clipso with Terry Calvert, who nurtured and encouraged me to shoot for British Newcomer of the Year when I was 23, which I won – the most unforgettable experience.
As soon as I started in the industry in the 80s, the people around me were so creative and individual but the characters were strong and bold, which for me was so inspirational.
Tell us more about your salon and brand?
I am so passionate about the art of hairdressing and in particular the freedom it allows us to create, enhance and look in all directions for inspirations and ideas, and then translate even the most ‘out there’ look to a practical and workable solution that will be enjoyed by our clients and anybody viewing the style.
What is one thing you wish that you had been told before embarking on a professional career in hairdressing?
A long time ago, a close friend gave me a great bit of advice – “Stay Focused”. To me this means staying true to myself, and as very much a creatively driven person, everything I do is shaped and motivated through and by creativity.
Don’t compromise on creativity, go with your gut instinct. For me, this has attracted, and continues to attract like-minded individuals who share a genuine creative passion and vision with me, talented individuals who are also able to, and do, contribute an enormous amount to the growth and development of the D&J Ambrose team.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to stylists just starting out in the hair business?
Work hard, find the right salon brand for you and learn as much as you possibly can. Dedication really pays off in this industry, so get stuck in with a salon that inspires you and backs you.
Do you have a favourite style of hairdressing?
I guess we all have a signature but sometimes it’s hard to see that signature and message yourself. Looking back at the archive imagery, I’d say feminine ethereal with strong details for a beautiful editorial final image.
When producing a shape on the head that is of anti-gravity nature or anti head shape, it’s still important that it has total balance to the bone structure of the model; even though it has extremity there’s still a connected beauty. When creating an image or working on a collection, I’ll always research into firstly the fabrics, textiles, prints or texture that’s going to be used on set or within an image. This can quite often give me inspiration of how the hair should fall and sit on the body and then sketching my memory bank ideas to paper to capture movement, colour tone, and varied lengths within the shots. I also incorporate a make-up reference – quite often when there’s a strong hair message it’s quite nice to contour the face but keep it simply beautiful.
I also put together mood boards for the textiles, fabrics, and how they’ll work against the skin and tone as I see all of the above as the bigger picture which needs attention to detail.
What is your career highlight to date?
Winning British Hairdresser of the Year has to be my career highlight so far. To join the illustrious roll of names and brands that have achieved such a feat is a massive confidence boost. It’s not something you can describe. It makes you want to be better at everything you do.
Where do you find inspiration to keep your hairdressing fresh and innovative?
I’m never tired of looking to artists, musicians and so on for inspiration. We tend to go around lots of diverse areas like the Southbank, the Tate, the Wallace collections, classical art pieces. Then there’s Damien Hirst where there’s extremity and mind provoking imagery. Also Gunther von Hagens, the German anatomist who created the controversial Body Worlds exhibition of preserved corpses – that was amazing in a sense of just tapping into basically who we are as humans and the body function from a completely different element.
We’re all the same inside this skin around us and internally – seeing it brings you back to earth, we’re a global cult, it’s mindblowing.
Music wise, I like anything that’s unusual, underground, instrumental – we listen to a lot of streamed music and Ibiza mixes when we’re working. I like the musical equivalent of going off onto a tangent… A rhythmic vibe that you sync into and get lost in, that can produce untold creativity, like your head is so up in the clouds you have to come down a bit. When you lose yourself in the atmosphere then come down to earth you can polish what was a raw idea, but you need to have that big outrageous dream first.
Who influences you to be a fantastic hairdresser and why?
Definitely my wife, Jackie. She’s been a massive support to me.
What can we expect from you in 2017 and beyond?
More growth of creativity within the D&J Ambrose team, and contributing more and giving back to this amazing industry.
Follow Darren on Instagram: @djambrosehair
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