Life of a Stylist – Styling for Hit Music Videos with Lisa Farrall
The Hairdressing industry is so varied that it can be hard to know what path to follow. For the Life of a Stylist Series we have exclusively tracked down hair professionals from a variety of industry positions from tour stylists to A-list Afro barbers so that you can gain insight into the breadth of the industry.
This week we spoke to Lisa Farrall, a celebrity stylist that recently coiffed the hair for Kendrick Lamar and SZA’s new video ”All the Stars” which is on the soundtrack to the Black Panther movie…
What was your route into hair?
I’ve been in the game since I was 13. I took the old school route working from the bottom to the top washing hair in a small local salon to managing a big chain on the Art Team. I became an educator and started session styling at 20. I assisted and became a first assistant and then I became ‘Lisa Farrall’. I often describe myself as the ‘slum dog millionaire’ of hairdressing; every path I’ve taken has prepared me for something bigger. I’m still working on the millionaire part but give me time [laughs]!
How did you build your reputation?
Hard work and making sacrifices are things I think we should talk about more. Not turning down big jobs means you miss out on things but that’s OK – it’s all for the bigger picture. Building my on brand as an independent is always going to be hard work and I’m a big believer in being passionate and NICE. There’s no need to believe your own hype and no one likes a ego – leave it at home. My work speaks for itself and I put work out there that I’m personally passionate about. I like to send a message and give my pictures a story and you could say they’re always slightly political.
How did the opportunity to work on All the Stars come about?
I was contacted directly by production and the directors who liaise with my assistant about me working on this project. The team are amazing and have worked with Kendrick on other videos as well as Beyonce’s Formation, and with Pharrell, Jay Z, Rihanna and Justin Bieber to name a few. The guys had seen my work and heard about what I was doing in the industry and wanted me to be a part of this production. I flew to LA a week later in December and the rest is history.
What was you inspiration for the looks you created on the video?
I really wanted to embrace the texture of Afro hair in all it’s beauty but also pay tribute to African culture. I created warriors and gave each look a name, this collection is entitled ‘armour’ for that exact reason, with good hair we can conquer the world. I created real goddess warriors who are proud of their hair and the magic you can make with it. I guess I was doing this for all the models who have been passed onto me at fashion week and every client that got turned away because the salon didn’t do ‘their hair’. Everything has a spiral effect and I guess that’s how my company WIG London came about.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far and how did you overcome it?
Challenges are what makes us better and I’ve had everything from a model not wanting her hair done to changing location to a dessert with no water and no electricity and the whole team got sunburnt with four days left to shoot! Overcoming these challenges in a calm manner is what makes you great at what you do.
What are your top tips for future talent that want to get into hairdressing – specifically Afro hairdressing?
Hairdressing is a great industry to be and one of the happiest to work in. Don’t close yourself off from learning and stay inspired. Social media is great to reach out to those you admire and to learn from, theres a huge platform out there no to showcase your work so use it! I would advise anyone to come and see me at Wig London and learn how to style every hair type and make yourself an equality hair stylist. I’ve travelled the world when I was cutting hair for food and for accommodation and now I travel the world doing hair. Open your mind and the rest is up to you. With technology the way it is I would say we are the lucky ones, I can’t see robots cutting hair anytime soon.
What’s your hairdressing philosophy?
Never stop learning and don’t panic – you’re not saving lives. Master your skill and be the best – then be fearless.
Favourite account to follow on Instagram?
@wig_london of course! Other than that I love to see everyone I’ve followed on a shoot pop up and I get very inspired about the moves that are being made I love it! I’m a huge fan of Eugene Souleiman and @uglyworldwide too – so they get plenty of likes. I think it so important to show support. I’m also loving what @gucci are doing at the minute.
Do you have a signature look you like to create?
With every look I do I try to empower the wearer so I like to see strong shapes with a soft interior. Kind of like me [laughs]. I’m a sucker for a braid and a kiss curl too – blame it being raised in the 1990s. I like to not be too serious; hair’s an expression and an art form so I don’t think I’m limited to one signature look.
What are your most reached for products in your kitbag?
I have a lot of favourites in my kit bag and I love using the Fudge Professional styling range especially my can’t live without Skyscraper, Curve Recovery and Xpander Foam! My secret weapons are Keracare Edge Tamer and Silken Seal. ghds go everywhere with me and are great for the states as they’re dual voltage.
Where do you see your career going next?
I’m not slowing down any time soon and I’ve recently launched WIG London. WIG London is an academy and agency specialising in teaching all hair types, it’s ideal for salon owners that are wanting to offer Afro and curly hair services in their salons to eliminate the “we don’t do your hair” system that we see nationally. Education is the key to this and I’m trying to make all salons texture neutral. The WIG London collective agency provides hair and make up artists that do every hair and skin types. I’m basically trying to take over the world!
For more information on Lisa and Wig London click here