Top Menu


Shu Uemura MUSE IMAGE Award Winner Announced

Celebrating the art of pure creativity in hairdressing, the Shu Uemura MUSE IMAGE Awards fused salon nous with artisan luxe for a defining moment in creative achievement, writes Cameron Pine.

SU ART OF HAIR_Finals Party 013_Shu Japanese Drummers

Melbourne’s illustrious Alto at GPO was transformed into a Japanese inspired rooftop wonderland of styling dexterity, complete with flower wall, gif creator for guests to pose and play and topped off with pan-Asian inspired delights – the mood was set for a night of celebration among some of our nation’s best. A mass of more than 100 industry leading salon owners, stylists and creative’s showed up for the inaugural event that was everything you’d expect from a luxury salon brand defined by the art of hairdressing.

SU ART OF HAIR_Finals Party 003_Bar and LAnterns

With five finalists each working on a collective photoshoot commissioned by Shu Uemura and envisioned by photographer James Rowe, the judging process proved difficult – with the calibre of entries at an all-time high and each unique in their own way. Choosing one winner from the cocktail of Tokyo inspired dynamism was just as hard as finding a streetscape in the heart of Tokyo free of neon colours and bold dramaticism. The progressive attraction of the global city became the ultimate muse to inspire each of the entrant’s looks. From Rappongi to Harajuku plaza the playing field of finalists delivered a diverse array of techniques both in colour, styling and through accessories to draw the eye but there could only be one remarkable hair artist announced the national winner of the Shu Uemura Art of Hair MUSE IMAGE Awards; and that winner was Danny Puopolo, from Rakis on Collins (VIC).

Launching for the first time this year, the Shu Uemura MUSE IMAGE Awards is a national styling competition which celebrates the remarkable craftsmanship and creativity of the hairstylist. Shu Uemura initially created the event as a testament to the brand’s commitment to innovation, and it is now set to be an annual opportunity.

Danny Puopolo expressed his excitement after winning the award; “It’s incredible! It’s so rewarding and exciting to put your work out there for the industry to see and for it to be received so positively by the community.”

SU ART OF HAIR_Finals Party 026_Danny Puopolo Lecturn

MUSE IMAGE winner Danny Puopolo

“The whole experience has been terrific and winning this award means the world to me. It’s testament to all the time, energy and effort I’ve put into my work these past few years. These types of competitions keep me motivated and inspired to keep going,” he said.

Showcasing intricate braiding techniques mixed with playful pom pom accessories, Danny Puopolo, experimented with tightly contoured braids, offset by free flowing textures. The result was a captivating look of innocence but with the depth and thematic representation of an all encompassing artistic achievement.

Shu Uemura_Muse Image Award_WINNER_Danny Puopolo_Rakis on Collins

Danny Puopolo winning look

“To me, the theme had a really fun element to it. It conjured up clashes of culture and colour, playing on the Harajuku outfits and the countries individual sense of style. I usually like looks that are a bit more gritty, urban and edgy. I was inspired by the Sukeban Girl gangs who are very sweet looking girls, but underneath they have a tough hard attitude with lots of fight. I’m really proud of this look. When I started playing around with different hair concepts, it just came together so seamlessly.”

Not only providing an opportunity for like-minded artistic salons to come together and celebrate their passion for hair beyond the norm, The MUSE IMAGE Awards provides a platform for hairstylists of all experience levels to push their artistic limits and create their own work of art. This year, over 50 hair stylists entered the competition in its introductory year, with 5 finalists nominated based on their ability to convey the TOKYO VIBE theme through hair styling and showcasing a strong artistic and technical aesthetic.

SU ART OF HAIR_Finals Party 032_The MUSE IMAGE Award Finalists

MUSE IMAGE finalists Jacky Chan, Bridget Gay, Danny Puopolo, Cara Mio Robinson and Brett Albury

General Manager of Shu Uemura Art of Hair Australia, Sandra Kelly, shared her excitement of Danny Puopolo’s win. “Danny’s winning look is so intriguing. The hair styling is so complex and detailed and really does bring the Tokyo Vibe theme to life.

His work and that of the finalists are a great example of what the Shu Uemura Art of Hair brand is all about. It’s showcasing the hair stylist as the artist; letting their creativity run wild, inspiring one another in the process and each producing something that is uniquely beautiful,” Sandy said.

“This night isn’t just about celebrating our winner, but coming together as a community.”

With a story of creativity told through video and behind the scenes takes of finalists creating their masterpieces from start to finish – each had their own voice, their own sense of pride, passion and direction in what they do. A successful execution of passion and art, for a brand like Shu Uemura I’d say they achieved everything they set out to achieve, while pushing the industry forward in the process.


Danny Puopolo, Rakis on Collins VIC


Brett Albury, The Murphy Gozzard Hair Community NSW
Cara Mio Robinson, Fruition Style Ambition QLD
Jacky Chan, OSCAR OSCAR – Chadstone & St Kilda VIC
Bridget Gay, Chumba Concept Salon VIC

For more information visit

View a behind the scenes video of the finalists photographing their submissions below:

Video Credits:

Hair: Danny Puopolo, Brett Albury, Cara Robinson, Jacky Chan, Bridget Gay
Production: prod.haus2
BTS video filming: Andrew Diprose
BTS video editing: Sean Lewis

Click here for Styleicons|TV.

, , , , ,

Hair Industry News Straight To Your Inbox

All the information, inspiration and education you need in the salon sphere twice a week.

You have Successfully Subscribed!