LAWLER has come a long way from giving girls impromptu bathroom
haircuts at his high school in Hamilton, New Zealand. As an international
hairstylist, he now works alongside some of the biggest names in
the businessand on some of its most famous heads. Best known
in New Zealand for his fantastic runway creations for avant-garde
fashion house World, Lawler has established himself as one of the
top session stylists in Sydney and is steadily forging his reputation
in Europe working under hair maestroand personal mentorEugene
Souleiman.with World designers Denise LÉstrange-Corbet and Francis
Hooperlong hailed as the enfants terribles of New Zealand
fashion. A true meeting of like minds, the friendship quickly developed
into one of the most dynamic partnerships in the New Zealand industry.
As Creative Director for the brands legendary runway shows,
Lawler has sent everything from Peking opera stars and cubist-faced
ingénues to last years slick and sleazy sailors down
the runway. When World showed in London in 1999, Lawlers exquisite
Swarovski crystal-encrusted face made the front page of The Times,
sparking off copycat versions for years to come.
Lawler began his hair apprenticeship in New Zealand
at the age of 16. All the crazy, cool people in Hamilton,
dressing like Spandau Ballet and Adam Ant, were hairdressers,
he recalls, and I wanted to be a part of that. At 20,
Lawler moved to London, where he embarked upon a successful salon
career with Vidal Sassoon. Three yearsand three London winterslater,
he returned to the relative warmth of New Zealand, running his own
salon in Auckland for two-and-a-half-years before being installed
as creative director for the Seville franchise.
It was on his return home that Lawler became acquainted
Lawler remains as passionate about his partnership
with World as he was at its inception, more than a decade ago. Its
rare to find designers who always want more, he says. If
I create a two-metre-high hair piece for World theyre like,
Can we make it three metres? For them its always
more, brighter, bigger, wetter, juicier!
Butas he is quick to point outhis
work is never about creating a show from the neck up.
The clothes themselves are always the starting point; the silhouette,
texture, and colour of the garments inevitably inform the way in
which they are framed. Brent has a very, very high standard
of excellence and integrity, says Hooper. In the international
fashion week bull-shit, you need someone like that on your team.
This sensibility has seen Lawler flourish in an
industry with more than its fair share of divas. Since moving across
the Tasman to Sydney seven years ago, he has emerged as one of Australias
most in-demand session stylists. A favourite of Australian Style,
Vogue and Oyster, Lawlers high-level editorial
exposure has earned him advertising work with Australian institutions
Country Road and David Lawrence, and department store giants David
Jones and Myers Grace.
As his profile has grown in Australasia, so has
the number of international contracts coming his way. Lawlers
work has graced the pages of Interview, Harpers Bazaar
Singapore, Vogue Hellas, Elle Italia, Marie Claire Nippon and
GQ Deutschland, to name but a few.
For Lawler, the upside to juggling prestige editorial work with
more luc-ra-tive advertising contracts has been an increasing amount
of creative freedom. I used to just do everything, he
says, whereas now I can almost pick and choose my projects.
Lawler currently spends half of each year in Paris,
working the European shows under the direction of hairdressing supremo
Eugene Souleiman. A noted innovator in his field, Souleiman is the
darling of cutting-edge designers Yohji Yamamoto, Viktor and Rolf,
and Hussein Chalayan. In 2003 he was named one of the fashion worlds
30 power players for the year by The Observer, who noted,
If [he] makes a statement for hair on the catwalk, you can
guarantee it will become a major trend.
Lawler describes Souleiman as a genius [who]
gets outside the square. He stays up all night in his lab mixing
strange concoctions to spray, melt, or weld onto his models
Interestingly, the words Lawler uses to describe
Souleimans work could easily beand in fact areapplied
to his own. Genius was the word of choice used by journalists
to describe his kaleidoscopic handiwork at last years LOréal
New Zealand Fashion Week, and frequently passes the lips of Francis
Hooper when describing his friend and collaborator.
With his challenging and eclectic æsthetic
visionpreferring excess to subtlety, and individuality to
the look of the moment Lawler seems set for greatness. The
pomp and pageantry of his runway shows has spurred offers from theatre
companies and filmmakers, eager to bring his work to new audiences.
But while Lawler is always keen to broaden his repertoire, his first
love remains fashion: Film is such a lengthy process, with
its continuity issues; you lose the immediacy of a shoot or show.
Im already bored of the look I created in the first scene
by the time I have to re-create it eight weeks later.
Clare Marshall is Melbourne correspondent for Lucire.
remains passionate about his partnership with World. Its
rare to find designers who always want more. If I create a 2 m high
hair piece for World theyre like, Can we make it 3 m?
Brent Lawler at work. ABOVE, FROM TOP:
Images from the World show, backstage, and editorial work for the
Australian editions of Vogue and Harpers Bazaar.