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Vacher’s Vintage Vocab

A love for the days of yesteryear and inspired by the likes of Vidal Sassoon and Raymond Bessone, Tony Vacher of Sterling Hairdressing celebrates 30 years of styling with a vintage twist – writes Ashleigh Sharman.

Tony Vacher

With a childhood spent in his Uncle’s barber shop, entranced by wet shaves and cutting, it was Tony’s hairdresser Aunt who pushed the art school student to chase a job at Vidal Sassoon – a career he knew was always in his future.

“I started hairdressing in 1981 at Vidal Sassoon in London, but Sterling and I owe a lot to my Uncle,” says Tony. “I was amazed at the speed he worked and the passion he had for what he did; he made a lot of guys look and feel great.”

Opening Sterling two years ago in Sydney’s creative hub of Surry Hills, and with several other successful salons behind him, Tony sought to establish a bright and fun space which could incorporate two very different areas within the same shop: a Hairdressing Parlour for the ladies and a Barbershop for men.

“I love Barbershops and really wanted to give a new generation the smells and noises of a tradition that isn’t around much anymore,” says Tony, whose love of all things vintage creates a space that brings iconic themes from the 1940s, 50s and 60s to life.

“I come from a Rockabilly background in my personal life, it’s a culture I am heavily affiliated with since growing up in London, so I suppose in that way it has and always will influence my work but in no way is it all I do,” says Tony. “It’s a complete lifestyle, my whole house is late 1940s early 50s, I don’t really have much in my house that is modern.”

Seeking the hair cocktail recipe for this vintage lifestyle is how most clients discover Sterling, some of whom (men in particular) Tony has been cutting hair for 20 years. Whether following a trend or seeking out something unique, Sterling introduces the client to new techniques and new products, hoping they will also be enchanted by the lifestyle that accompanies the haircut.

“A lot of the shapes I cut are to be set, there are clients of mine who are doing this every day,” says Tony who is experiencing the success of hit series Mad Men and movie Water for Elephants directly in-salon. “What some people don’t realise is that there are massive disconnections to these cuts and a lot are based on page boy shapes so you need to style them, which is great, I really dig that, I really like that full commitment required to wear the hair.”

“At the moment my favourite era is the1920s depression era; those high tapered men’s cuts, Marcel waves, slightly unkempt due to lack of money but still amazing styling,” explains Tony who tips HBO’s prohibition era drama series Boardwalk Empire as the next vintage trend setter.

“Everyday ordinary people with the regular styles of the time, those were such beautiful haircuts on both the men and women.”

And it is these moments of beauty in vintage eras that will ensure the trend continues.

Sterling Hairdressing Parlour and Barber Shop: Shop 3 – 29 Brisbane Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010, (02) 9262 7777

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