So far, 2019 is shaping up to be a good one for Cambridge hairstylist Laura Williams.
She’s just back from another dream trip to the ‘Big Apple’, where she made up part of Wella’s backstage team at the February 4-13 New York Fashion Week (NYFW). Despite having rubbed shoulders with some of the world’s top models during previous fashion week events – three times in New York and once at the Paris Couture Fashion Week – the excitement never dims.
“It’s an amazing thing to be part of … I love the session styling, and it really keeps me on trend,” she said last week, adding that she will be back in the US for the next NYFW event in September. “I’ll keep doing it as long as they will have me.”
Laura’s combination of skill and grit got her there in the first place, and serves her well at these lavish affairs.
“There were 40 models in the show we just did – we were a team of 12. This time around, there was one model who had just 10 minutes before the show started … six of us worked on her at once to get her ready in time.
“You might find yourself in that situation, or you could have a couple of hours to work on a more complicated style. Either way, you have to be adaptable and be open to anything. We’re in a team environment, working backstage with a designer and a hair director. All we do is the styling … we’re don’t cut or colour the hair. But we get all types of models with a range of hair types, from afro to completely shaved heads, and we might be working with wigs. It’s not as much about being creative as it is about being able to deliver exactly the look wanted by the designer.”
Laura was one of just five hairstylists taken to these events by Wella from the Australia/New Zealand region twice a year. Applicants have to go through a tough auditioning process; those selected become Wella ‘ambassadors’ for each fashion week.
The eight days in New York can be pretty gruelling, Laura said.
“We generally get a 6am call time, with the show scheduled to start around noon. We might be done by around 2pm, so we do get some time to ourselves. Everyone gets to know everyone else … it’s a bit like a family. Quite a few of us go each year, so we’ve become pretty close.”
The Waikato hairstylist, who hails from Te Kauwhata, moved to Cambridge about four years ago.
This year started particularly well, with Laura looking forward to more professional growth on the world stage while also focusing on a new Victoria Street salon opened in early December with partners Wayne Richardson and Paul Ganley. Called ‘White’, it’s a sleek spot with minimalistic appeal and New York ‘loft’ touches, like the rough brick wall at the back, that are particularly close to her heart.