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Shu Uemura Name 2017 Gallery of Style Winner

From Tokyo to Two Ton Max in North Melbourne, the Shu Uemura culture has infiltrated the hairdressing industry at the utmost artistic level – kudos to the Gallery of Style Awards where true hairdressing artistry hits the global stage, writes Cameron Pine.

A blank canvas completely transformed into a Shu-style superworld – think Japanese minimalism meets art and social excess, Sunday June 25 was a night to remember, not just for five lucky Gallery of Style Finalists but the luxury of hair at large.

Adam McIntosh Image

Recently returning from a fully immersive cultural experience and shoot day in Tokyo – arguably the world’s most dynamic and exciting city, hairdressers from across our known landscape were inspired, enchanted and thrust into their creative psyche to re-create what they see as the ultimate Gallery of Style muse.

The Shu Uemura Art of Hair Gallery of Style Awards now annually celebrate the remarkable craftsmanship and creativity of the hairstylist willing to push their technical and creative limitations. Five finalists were up for the chance to take home the national title including Bridget Gay; Chumba Concept Salon, Danny Puopolo; Rakis on Collins, Ellie Martins; Wild Life Hair and Beauty and Adam McIntosh, Oscar Oscar Pacific Fair. The worthy winner with a quintessential fusion of artistry and style was Lauren Branciamore from The Society Salon. Her look ‘sound of silence’ was inspired by the fun and playful nature of the Tokyo landscape.

Lauren Branciamore image

“I’m so happy and overwhelmed to have won this. Being a finalist and travelling to Tokyo has just been the most incredible experience. What the future holds with Shu Uemura is an amazing and inspiring thought – thank you Shu for the opportunity,” said Lauren.

Shu Uemura Art of Hair is a brand that combines artistry with innovation – a delicate balance of ritualistic and highly individual hair formulations, the Tokyorama theme for the 2017 competition was a planet of inspiration.

Bridget Gay image

“Tokyo is a city of juxtaposing textures, from the softness of the Cherry Blossom and the detail of the Buddhist temples to the sleek, shiny lines of modern architecture – I was really inspired by this contrast and the old and the new,” said Lauren.

Five hairdressers, five creative hair looks and three action packed days in Tokyo – the finalist shoot was designed to celebrate the skills of each hairstylist at the origin of the Shu Uemura Art of Hair brand. Taking place in the city’s iconic Shibuya district including on one of the world’s busiest pedestrian crossings – Shibuya Crossing and in laneways and lantern lit sake serving alleyways of the Golden Gai – it was the experience of a lifetime for everyone involved. All finalists and guests on the trip were glowing with energy and enthusiasm having returned from a journey as customized as the Shu Uemura brand itself. The Tokyorama vibe definitely travelled its way to a winter night in Melbourne – adding further whimsy to a world of hair.

A special thanks on the night was also given to Oscar Cullinan – joining the tour as a mentor for each of the finalists – his experience provided a wealth of support and encouragement at a photographic level from a man responsible for many a winning image, but also leading hairdressing label (Oscar Oscar Group).

Ellie Martins image

2016’s winner Danny Puopolo said, “There is something very ‘normal’ to see a cities traditional heritage sitting comfortably alongside its insatiable appetite for modernity. The dark wood of a traditional tofu shop sits next to a cloud-brushing skyscraper. I remember feeling overwhelmed when confronted with Tokyo’s juxtaposed landscape – I wanted to capture this energy,” Danny said.

This year more than 60 hairstylists entered the competition in Australia, providing a platform for Australian hairstylists of all experience levels to push their artistic limits.

General Manager of Shu Uemura Art of Hair, Sandra Kelly shared her excitement for the win; “Not only are we a group of people that have welcomed this brand with open arms in Australia,” but it wasn’t difficult to see that the winning look that further translates the unique Shu community, “Lauren’s winning look is incredibly hypnotic. It’s technically brilliant and complex but also so considered – it really brings the Tokyorama theme to life,” Sandy said.

“Lauren’s work and each of the finalists are a great example of what the Shu Uemura Art of Hair brand is all about and that’s showcasing the stylist as the artist and drawing inspiration from city architecture, both old and new,” she said.

Danny Puopolo image

Not only have each of the finalists let their creativity flourish but we can now see where their artistry can lead – to both national and international recognition. The diverse panel of judges included Benni Tognini, Arnaud Trevisana of L’Oréal PPD, myself, Remy Rippon from Vogue Australia as well as the Shu Uemura Art of Hair General Manager internationally. Sandy Kelly from Shu Uemura herself was completely inspired to witness each of the finalists on set and amongst the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.

“We are a group that share attitudes and common interest in celebrating community, art, innovation and tradition,” Sandy said. Guests were then transported on a journey to Japan with a behind the scenes video shot by Adam Saunders of Killa Kreative – the detail as remarkable as the finished results.

Gallery of Style winner Lauren Branciamore

The night in Melbourne added another dimension to the fully immersive experience of Shu, not just transporting guests to a creative world – everyone entered the venue through an art installation of hand-made pink origami that took more than two weeks to make, it was all bang on with the brand value of Shu – and that’s certainly the experience the brand wants for everyone it touches.

The five finalist images were larger than life – at least 6 times the usual size of an image at an awards night – suspended from the roof of the North Melbourne Warehouse and a premium Japanese whiskeys greeted guests as well as an epic array of Japan-inspired food from Melbourne’s Ascot Food Store.

Alexandra Shabolt, Lauren Branciamore and Sandra Kelly

More than 120 guests made their way around the venue which included plenty of photos on the Shu Uemura mirror wall – the classiest ‘photobooth’ you ever did see.

Gallery of Style; what a global feast it is.

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