GenNext 2019 took on Hair Expo with aplomb, creating a huge spectacle at the International Convention Centre in Sydney by showcasing hair art, relevant creative themes and supreme skills from emerging talents in the hair industry. With the finale coming by way of Paul Mitchell international hair legends Robert Cromeans and Angus Mitchell, it was a night to leave your preconceived ideas of hair squarely at the door.

A World of Colour by Paul Mitchell

With 100 guests in the huge crowd there courtesy of the Australian Hairdressing Council’s Skills Road program to showcase a pathway into the industry for students, the inspiring shows would have had many dreaming that they too could one day be backstage. INSTYLE partnered with the show as it does every year, referencing our publication’s constant focus on hair creativity and education to continuously push our industry forward.

The tone of the night was set by its incomparable returning comperes – hair industry cool kid (who the next night won Educator of the Year, speaking to his role in growing talent), Jules Tognini, and newly minted King of the Jungle, Richard Reid. The comedic duo riffed off each other, brought people on stage to indulge in some car pool karaoke and spilled secrets game show style throughout the night, adding a comedic dose to a night of artistry in the ideal balance.

Jules Tognini leads Carpool Karaoke on stage

The shows touched on many important themes and aesthetics relevant to the current hair industry. Some shows offered a haunting and regal dramatic portrayal, while others dived into significant topics of gender fluidity and sustainability. Kicking off the night was Royals Hair, as sponsored by O&M, which began with a fittingly dark regal look in ‘The Originals’. An opulent throne at centre stage gave way to black fashion styling, heavy makeup, bold hair shapes, masks and other accessories and an all-round Avant Garde aesthetic, perfect for GenNext as told through dance.

Next, the UK FAME Team presented ‘Sign Of The Times’, an evocation of gender fluidity. As words popped on screen behind the models (acting as literal signs), an explosion of colour defined the runway in hair and fashion, welcoming prints, vivid hues and creativity on to the stage over strict gender lines.

The third act came courtesy of styling expert Lorna Evans and TAFE Gippsland in one the most theatrical shows of the evening. ‘Living Doll’ was exactly as the title suggested, showcasing models performing in perfectly tailored movements to resemble figurines, while styled to reflect this aesthetic in their fashion styling (think tutus and lace), doll-like makeup and pastel hues. The hair looks also took on these pastel tones in major hues of pink, blue and yellow, as well as presenting big shapes, the use of padding and intricate, Avant Garde long hair styling techniques, all in a musical showcase.

The environment was a key theme in Ella and Jade’s ‘Abyss’. As shots of the ocean flashed on screen to set the tone, the hair and fashion styling was anchored by the use of plastic, providing a social commentary on this environmental concern as the material created bold and diverse looks in the edgy runway show.

For Head Over Heels salon, their ‘Equal’ show spoke to the brilliance in diversity. Part runway show, part dance performance, every aspect of the show, from the model’s age, gender, size, age and, certainly, hair look was diverse, creating a captivating and relevant spectacle on stage. The show presented the beauty in every human, giving every model their moment on the catwalk to shine as their flawless, loud and creative selves.

Bond Hair Religion literally sent in the clowns with ‘Dazed’, creating a moody show filled with a vocal performance, model on stilts, acrobat, set of twins straight out of a horror film and more. Huge hair looks and audacious materials took this show to new Avant Garde levels, as the music transitioned from creepy to pulsating, imbuing the room with its undeniable DNA.

Sustainable Salons and Box Hill Institute combined again for ‘The Art of Waste’, utilising the talents of the students led by Sustainable Salons ambassador Shaun McGrath to create a rocking show centred on recycling. Models outfitted in wigs and fashion styling made from waste took to the stage, dancing with rubbish collectors to showcase how fun sustainability can actually be when merged with hair art.

‘Mood’ was the final show from the up and coming hairdressers, as created by the Vivo Emerging Talent Artistic Team. This show dispelled with gender entirely, offering bold colours, risqué fashion styling and bright and big hair looks with clear Drag elements, all situated on heels and fishnet stockings, and leaving a trail of glitter in its wake.

Mood by the Vivo Emerging Talent Artistic Team

The grand finale came courtesy of Paul Mitchell, namely their international hair heroes Robert Cromeans and Angus Mitchell, for ‘A World of Colour’. Live hair cutting and styling in a dynamic setting was just the beginning, as the duo turned this into true performance art. Think hairspray used to make hair truly defy gravity, and the combinations of fans and clippers for a death-defying final look. With Robert’s trademark energy emboldening the entire stage, the myriad of hair looks showed off the brand’s beauty and creativity in equal measure.

A World of Colour by Paul Mitchell

If this was a student’s first time seeing the inimitable world of hair artistry, we’re sure they left with their perception changed and imagination expanded upon. As a testament to the creativity, opportunities and pure fun that can be experienced in the world of hair, GenNext delivered, as always.

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