What there is to know about hair Guido Palau knows, and then some. The hair maestro is the brains behind of some of the most seminal looks of the past 25 years and has worked with every model worth mentioning. From those Calvin Klein campaigns with Kate Moss in the early 90s to the exquisite basket weave hair from the late Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 11 show to the fluoro-coloured cuts from the current Marc by Marc Jacobs campaign, the length and breadth of Guido’s work spans wider than any hair stylist in recent memory. Growing up, Guido was influenced by Top of The Pops, 70s and 80s punks and New Romantics, as well as London street style and characters like Boy George, Princess Julia and, “all of those crazy people who expressed themselves with the way they looked and the way they did their hair.”
Guido went on to hone his skills as the Vidal Sassoon salon in London, but after working on a photo shoot early on, he discovered session styling: “That was a real job and that’s why I became a hairdresser,” he explains. The early turning point in his career was styling the hair in George Michael’s Freedom! ’90, the video featuring supermodels Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington, Tatjana Patitz and Linda Evangelista, that has become synonymous with the heady glamour of fashion in the 90s. Guido’s connections to what was happening in an emerging London led to him collaborating on street-cast documentary style portraits with a young photographer, David Sims. “He showed me a completely different way of looking at people and opened up his world to me.” Those images caught the attention of a certain Mr. Calvin Klein who recruited him to work on his fashion shows and ad campaigns, and the rest is history.
Guido is now responsible for the looks at shows across all four fashion capitals, for brands such as Prada, Christopher Kane, Alexander McQueen, Lanvin and Alexander Wang, and finds inspiration and excitement working on them all. “The young, the old, the new and the more established — they all have a woman they are trying to speak to. Alex [Wang], for example, is very young and he’s talking about the music and the people he likes, but Ralph Lauren opens up his world to a completely different woman. You end up really enjoying the process of working with the designers, understanding their visuals, and you gain a lot of knowledge about how you want to proceed in the season with editorials and advertising campaigns.” This past September saw the release of Hair, his second book after Heads: Hair by Guido in 2002. Guido’s directional cuts take centre stage in striking images by long-time friend and collaborator David Sims. “The tone of the skin, the neutrality… it’s not safe. There’s something quite dark about it and the characters; in all their perfection, something is a bit off.” With narration by Andrew Bolton and Tim Blanks, Hair is an otherworldly ode to Guido’s love of hair: “It’s twelve years on [from Heads]. I needed to do something that felt like it had moved on. It’s an idea of youth but borne out of classicism. It’s a very different book from my last, a different aesthetic, but it has the same soul.” Something of a hair alchemist, Guido is also the Creative Consultant for hair care brand Redken, taking high fashion looks and shaping the beauty ideals for women. “Redken are open to my job and what I do, they aren’t asking for glossy blow-dries, they understand me and I understand them and I feel lucky to be a part of it.” It’s Guido’s down-to-earth mentality that has cemented his place as the premier hair stylist in the industry, after more than 25 years. “I love individuality and people who don’t follow the herd and who have their own point of view — someone walking down the street who’s chosen to do their hair in their own way… Individuality is what attracted me to the industry; that’s what I find beautiful.”