“There’s something happening between myself and friends at the moment, I don’t really know what it is …” said Emiliano, addressing the 300-strong crowd he’d gathered from all corners of the country. Incredible really, when you consider not one of them had any idea exactly where the event was to be held, what format it would take and who exactly would be leading them throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

the ssshhh crew
The Ssshhh crew. Photo credit: @liloffthetop

But they all signed up, and god damn did they walk away pleased with their decision.

It was the secret that both excited and drove us all a little bit crazy. Crazy because we’re so used to being fed the precise supporting-company-driven details about an event – the brand ambassadors that will assume the stage and the product or brand message they’ll be promoting, or really, selling. We at INSTYLE just wanted to know where it would be, who we’d be seeing, what they’d be doing and how long we’d be there for.

emiliano, richard ashforth, Jose Luis Almendral and Robert Lobetta
Emiliano Vitale, Richard Ashforth, Jose Luis Almendral and Robert Lobetta. Photo credit: @instylehairmag

Well, we were all pretty much told to ‘shut the fu*k up’ (the evening’s mantra that you could in fact purchase in the form of a mug) and that we did, and we’re glad we did, as we experienced a hit of unsuspected creativity that we haven’t felt for a long time.

The brainchild of Emiliano Vitale and his surrounding crew, the inaugural Ssshhh event was held at Paddington Town Hall on Sunday night, a location revealed only that morning, kind of like the underground rave scene in Melbourne all those years ago, and the vibe was definitely present – a group of people of all ages, demographics, styles and heritage, all there for the ‘music.’

Robert opuring client STFU
Robert Lobetta. Photo credit: @instylehairmag

Salon owners, managing directors, session stylists, media and the humble apprentice – they all arrived right on time for 4pm show time, and first to the stage was the chaotic father and son act, Benni and Jules Tognini. They’re both a little bit mad, batty, strange, genius, we all know that, and that’s exactly why they were invited to be part of an event that has surely started ‘something’ in the industry Down Under.

Jules and Benni Tognini model. Photo credit: @liloffthetop

Our personal favourite, the boys sent a female beard onto the stage, strung to a head-harness, the beard covered the models entire face from the nose down, right down to her navel. “All girls love beards right?” Said Jules … ahh yeah, on guys, we like beards on guys.

jules and benni tognini models
Jules and Benni Tognini models. Photo credit: @liloffthetop

Next to the stage was Richard Ashforth and Pierre Saint Sever from UK salon brand, Saco. These guys brought it and brought it hard. No words, only next level creative foresight. Richard is truly an unsung hero on Australian shores – others taking credit where it should be directed fair and square at this guy. For Richard, music is his muse – sounds that inspired shapes we didn’t think possible. Pre-done models entered the stage with wigs that, according to our editor Cameron Pine were clever concoctions of coloured golf tees … we’re not sure if that was the case, but he’s onto something nonetheless. Fast forward, the golf-tee-wigs were removed and Richard proceeded to seemingly enchant hair with an incantation daring hair to dance. Magic.

Saco. Photo credit: @instylehairmag

Emiliano Vitale and Lisa Muscat delivered an interpretation of their latest collection, Disconnected Smoke and Roses. The creative pair and life partners allowed an up close and personal on their latest crochet technique, presenting several pre-done models including a blonde-afro-tribal-fairy who danced about and blew special fairy dust all over the front row … that was us. Cam looks good in glitter.

We broke for half time and returned to the room only to see a complete transformation of the stage. The work of course, of a man who has committed his career to hairdressing since the mid-seventies, Mr Robert Lobetta – the icon who inspired the guys currently sitting at the top of our industry, the Caterina’s, the Joey’s, Shane’s and Jayne’s, he was the one they looked to. What a legend, and what a legendary performance he gave. The definition of wizard, Lobetta is so in tune with the modern world, the quick consumption mindset, yet so skilled in the fundamentals of the craft courtesy of experience in this industry and around the world most of us will only ever dream about. He’s an enigma. So wise yet so youthful. He can make hair look like metal. He’s beyond the companies, the conflict and the politics, he’s a creator, a dream maker, and he pacifies pesky clients with a big glass of ‘shut the fu*k up’ – otherwise known as wine. On Sunday, at Ssshhh, he decided regular clothes were boring, so put on a pair of painters overalls, fixed some carefully, labour-intensive hair-horns on his model, told her to strip and painted her blue, live. When was the last time you saw a performance like that – have you ever seen a performance like that?

Robert Lobetta. Photo credit: @instylehairmag

In what was a beautiful contrast, Jamie and Sally of Brooks and Brooks Hairdressing, London, presented a look inspired by a UK blogger-slash-mum dedicated to educating followers on easy tricks for ten year olds’ hair. They started with sections that were in turn segmented from scalp to ends with consecutive string-ties, from there the pair (also) used a crochet-like technique for editorial edge. The hero was a small piece of leather (not unlike the Dion Lee 3D skeletal black jacket we’ve all lust over) that was pinned onto the top of the scalp. From there, Jamie proceeded to pick out (just like the old eighties tip caps) loops of hair from between each groove. Easy yet so effective.

brooks and brooks
Brooks and Brooks. Photo credit: @instylehairmag

Last was X-Presion, the duo synonymous with neon string and Spanish-passion. Beginning with a heartfelt speech and a humbling attitude towards the art of hairdressing X-Presion demonstrated their signature mix of unconventional shapes and colour with a commercial meets avant garde approach. Finishing off a day of supreme creativity, X-Presion impeccably sharp lines, precision fringes and angular shapes they are known for came to the fore. Colour techniques that the brand is recognized for across the globe were deconstructed- demonstrating a true passion for the diverse and highly customizable colour palette. It was easy to see why X-Presion has garnered a reputation as one of Europe’s premier houses of hairdressing education. Built on the fundamentals of a training academy rather than a salon, the brands inherent philosophy is indeed all about expression.

Until next year, Ssshhh.