mbfw16: backstage with redken at jennifer kate.
by annika hein on may 18, 2016

8PM on day three of our collaboration with Redken at MBFWA, and you wouldn’t have known it was the last show of the day, nor that it was some ten hours since the day had officially started. Redken Hair Director, Richard Kavanagh was full of contagious energy and electric charisma. Just moments after I watched him dramatically and humorously throw a white scarf around his neck and pose for a Polaroid, he took a breath to take us through his inspiration behind the Geisha-inspired chignon look for Jennifer Kate.

Backstage @ Jennifer kate, 7:47PM, Tuesday 17th May. 

The Grey Attic: Could you take me through this look and the inspiration behind it?
Richard Kavanagh: Sure- The look for Jennifer Kate is a very sleek, high shine, shimada – which is a geisha hairstyle – inspired chignon I wanted to create a juxtaposition to the softness of the suede and the clothes, but still have a little nod to some of the sort of Japanese motifs that were running through the collection. So I took this old ancient 200 year old Japanese hair folding technique and incorporated it into this modern look by gelling the hair down with a strong center part using our short sculpture gel to hold it tight to the head. Then we tie the hair into two ponytails and then we work with four different elastics after we put a little bit of oil in the hair and iron it with our ghd. Then we fold it, tie it, and fold it again and tie it and then pin it to the back of the hair.

TGA: That’s really intricate work
RK: It is really intricate but it’s remarkably simple once the guys get the hang of it, they’re like oh! And then it’s kind of easy.

TGA: How many different variations of the look were there before this direction was signed off on?
RK: When I first started talking to Jen and Calvin, who’s styling the show, about the hair, they were thinking something much looser and more romantic, like a little messy disheveled chignon. But when they walked me through the collection, I had this little moment where I was like, do you know what, can I show you something? Is what I said to them. And then I took the girl off and I just did it for them out the back and they just went, ‘that’s the hair.’ So it was just one off, one version. And, it was nice because I think for them its about that creative collaboration and for me its about bringing the less obvious idea, not the first idea.

TGA: So something people aren’t expecting.
RK: Yeah, exactly!

TGA: What are the key products you used to create the look?
RK: So key products are: Short Sculpt which is our strong hold gel, Triple Take which is our strong hold hair spray, Diamond Oil, my old favourite Diamond Oil every time, and we are using some Rootful to dampen the hair down before we start.

TGA: What is your creative process when you’re concepting looks for fashion week, not just this one, but in overall.  
RK: Good question, my creative process is really allowing myself to trust my gut, and allowing myself to really indulge in the play of creating. Because if you get too serious, and if you get too caught up in the intellect around it, I think you lose the opportunity to kind of latch onto those will of the wisp ideas that pop into your head as you go along. So if you just listen to yourself and listen to the creative part of your mind, when you hear all the elements come together, something will pop into your mind and you go okay let’s do this, lets play. I also think the key is allowing yourself the freedom to be wrong. Because its test time, it’s not important. It’s important that we get the right result in the end, but it’s okay to fail along the way.

TGA: What is the first thing you did this morning?
RK: The first thing I did this morning was drop my kids to school. Then I went to jujitsu.

TGA: Did you! You got a lot in this morning. [Laughs]
RK: I did. [Laughs]

TGA: What is your favourite hair look to create and why?
RK: Do you know what, I don’t have a favourite look. I just love doing hair. I love being involved in the creative process. I love the creative collaboration. I love doing really sleek technical highly polished ridiculous hair. I love doing my signature look, which is that kind of nothing, effortless, easy, just give it a little shake and off she goes. And which of course is not what it takes to do that because it’s the hardest hair to get right. But it’s not any one look. I just love hair.

TGA: That’s great. You should always remember to?
RK: You should always remember to use a good shampoo and conditioner.

TGA: Top two things in your kit that get the biggest work out?
RK: My Mason Pearson and my ghd iron.

TGA: No fashion week should be without?
RK: No fashion week should be without a major dramatic meltdown.

TGA: [Laughs] Have you had it yet?
RK: Yep. [Laughs] Just one, that’s it I’m done for the week, I’m good. [Laughs] I’ve got it out of my system.


Shop all the MBFWA Redken looks here