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Signature Anniversary shoot, 2017: hairdressing by Derek Elvy/Buoy Salon & Spa; make-up by Michele Perry; photographed by Guy Coombes.

Derek Elvy: the last interview with the king of avant-garde

 

Continued from previous page

Polynesia, 2012: hairdressing and concept by Derek Elvy/Buoy Salon & Spa; Polynesian couture by Lindah Lepou; photographed by Louise Hatton.

Old St Paul’s, 2014: hairdressing by Derek Elvy/Buoy Salon & Spa; fashion by World.

Provocateur, 2015: hairdressing by Derek Elvy/Buoy Salon & Spa; photographed by Angela Henderson.

Signature Anniversary shoot, 2017: hairdressing by Derek Elvy/Buoy Salon & Spa; make-up by Michele Perry; photographed by Guy Coombes.

 

‘A beautiful tower block but with awkward retail floor plates,’ Elvy recalls. ‘They needed to find some life for those spaces. The Buoy clientèle was a good fit as it had very little to do with Newtown. The clientèle was first generation, arts- or fashion-associated, and welcoming change. So by generous invitation and the professional help from Julie and Sonny Ooi (architects), a deal was struck and 25 years later we still have a working relationship with [them]. Clearly this was serious real estate so the salon evolved into its next chapter and national profile.’

During this time, Buoy moved to the Sky Lobby at the Majestic Centre, with a larger floor. Elvy wanted his team to get natural light coming in, so colourists could gauge the tones for their clients.

He felt confident to step forward. ‘Creatively, I was surrounded by some of the best emerging talent in Wellington and New Zealand.’ However, he said it had been overwhelming at times as Buoy rapidly grew and changed. He values ‘compartmentalizing’ different aspects of his life, and the presence of a dedicated management who could allow for ‘creation and commerce to coexist.’

The global financial crisis led to tough years for Buoy, but he found the right partner in Phillippa Middleton, who helped enhance the salon’s natural tendency to be kind and nurture, while putting administrative systems in place. Soon after Middleton bought into the business and opened a spa within the salon.

Beel, who has been with Buoy for nearly two decades, also bought into the salon in the early 2010s.

Elvy could continue to focus on creating and raising the bar of his work, acknowledging that when one is given that artistic licence, one should use it well. ‘You have periods where you feel totally in control and, as I said, if you are trying not to copy but appreciate the work of others, you will collide with those artists’ thinking in a similar way; but that may be many years apart before you realize this is going on. This may be [due to] similar influences, be it film, illustrators, poets, musicians, botanical studies or just restless souls, etc. As long as you have your ears and eyes on, there is always a chance or opportunity to be engaged in a new way of appreciating something arresting, regardless of complexity or simplicity.’

In 2007, Elvy talked about ‘the last room’, explaining it to Moayyed: ‘life is a series of rooms and you have the opportunity in enough of your life to go to the last room. The last room is the most extreme place that you can put yourself where you have the most challenge, the most questions, the most fascination, the most brilliance, and the most grief.’ Lucire asked if this remained his philosophy as Elvy begins his 60s. ‘The last room is probably something that belongs more to how far you are prepared to extend your need to find something new that may not be understood. I look at the characteristics of artists whom I have always respected and there is a place they go that is theirs and theirs alone, and from a youth point-of-view, this is often associated with isolation, darkness, all the usual suspects, but also being aware enough to know the difference between trying to capture a mind-altering image without the damage.’

However, Elvy has concerns about the future; in that there appeared to have been greater freedom in years passed. Ten years ago, Elvy, referencing an article by the late David Bowie who criticized the music industry for becoming formulaic, said there was still room for creating a bespoke adventure. Today, he notes, ‘All projects and creative endeavours have a pedigree to follow on from, and with the availability of social media and the power of celebrity and the mid-century as the new cool, what the new generation find[s] motivating may not be longer than a box set.’ Nevertheless, Elvy himself has never had to rest on his laurels, and neither has his team. It is a life led by example over the last 30 years, and Buoy is still dedicated to finding the world’s best hair professionals for its clientèle, and pushing the envelope further forward. •

 

Read more about Buoy Salon & Spa at www.buoy.co.nz.

 

 

 

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