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BTS: MEET HAIR STYLIST ISSAC POLEON

BTS: MEET HAIR STYLIST ISSAC POLEON

BTS:

MEET HAIR STYLIST ISSAC POLEON

Clean lines, individuality and the end of trends: meet the hair stylist behind ‘The Party Never Stops’ Christmas 22 campaign.

Author: Joe Blogs Photographer: JANE DOE

He might be a relative newcomer to the world of session styling, but Issac Poleon is making an impact. The South London hair stylist has had his hands on the locks of everyone from Jorja Smith to Jourdan Dunn. He’s worked with Gucci and Burberry and Valentino, and creatives like Campbell Addy. Not to mention an array of fashion magazines, including Vogue, The Face and AnOther. No wonder then, that he’s become the go-to man behind the killer hair on FLANNELS campaigns.

Sought after for his transformative power of hair and his expertise with Afro and European hair textures, Poleon has a bold aesthetic. So strong is his touch, that he’s nailed the knack of elevating hair to being its own character, in shoots, in campaigns, even for his everyday clients. Influenced by the ‘90s and Noughties, his childhood growing up in South London is present, always. As Poleon himself says, ‘as long as my partings are straight and my edges are laid, then I’m pretty much happy with everything else’.

We caught up with the hair stylist to talk creating looks for our Christmas 22 Party Never Stops campaign, individuality and what beauty means to him.

Get to know Issac Poloen.

The Party Never Stops is all about the thrill of party season and the excitement that comes with returning home for Christmas Eve. Where was your starting point for creating the hair looks?

The starting point was to bring out the individuality of each character and adding seasonal flair to it. At Christmas time, you spend a little bit extra on your glam. You do a little bit more. It was about pushing the natural beauty and taking it into more of an editorial space but making it ‘party’.


What were those initial reference points?

There was an element of Noughties - it was representative of how the industry is moving right now. There’s a lot of recycled aesthetics from the late ‘90s and early Noughties.


This party season, it feels like the anti-trends will be taking over.

I think the error of trends is slowly fading and is being diluted, thankfully. I feel like the error of trends is giving fast fashion and it’s giving old school, and I think the new hair trends and the new trends will just be based on embodying personal style and what you think is beautiful and setting your own trends.


You’ve said that the ‘90s and Noughties are your biggest muses. What do you love about that era?

I feel like it was a very free moment, where people liberated themselves through their personal and individual style. There was a little less fear back then. If you loved it for yourself, then it was kind of like f**k the world. It was statement based and self-empowering and that’s generally why I draw a lot of inspiration from that time.

I FEEL LIKE IT WAS A VERY FREE MOMENT, WHERE PEOPLE LIBERATED THEMSELVES THROUGH THEIR PERSONAL AND INDIVIDUAL STYLE. THERE WAS A LITTLE LESS FEAR BACK THEN.

That feels like a FLANNELS take too…

The root of FLANNELS DNA is individualism. I think FLANNELS is definitely going against the grain of what an established luxury brand looks like and what I love about FLANNELS… is they really are trying to push the individual as opposed to trying to conform to the thousands. It’s really fab, to be honest

Hair really does have the ability to make or break your day. It’s so personal…

It’s transformative.


How do you tackle something so personal?

I feel like a lot of my ability to navigate that comes from my salon experience. In the salon you meet someone and it’s like, ‘what would work for this person?’ They bring you an inspiration or something that nods into what they aspire to, and you take that and you manipulate it around that person, depending on where they’re at in their life, what their current lifestyle is… There’s a lot of preconceived versions of what this world should look like or how you should look based on current trends, and I think the rebels, like myself, go against the general beauty standards or social beauty norms… If someone asks for red hair, how can you give them the best red hair? Can you give them a type of red or a colour of red or a tone of red that’s individual to them? Do you just change slight tones throughout the front? How do you cater that to a person?

I THINK THE REAL INDIVIDUALS, THE REBELLIOUS INDIVIDUALS, ARE THE PEOPLE THAT DON'T REALLY CARE ABOUT SOCIAL STANDARDS OF BEAUTY...

It's you bringing your confidence to give someone else that feeling.

I think a lot of people navigate insecurity through the validation of trends. I think the real individuals, the rebellious individuals, are the people that don’t really care about social standards of beauty… There’s also a large element of it that’s inauthentic and just being honest and communicating. Communication is key and that thought process being broken down is really quite important in that moment. It’s like ‘ok, this is what you love, let’s see how we can make this version of yourself.’ Because you understand as a creative that if someone brings you something you can draw inspiration from that but copying the ideology… the idea of being something that is not yourself, that’s not authentic…


That’s really reflected in the hair for the campaign. Every model’s hair is different. It ties together but it’s unique.

That’s what’s also really great about what FLANNELS is doing right now, and why I love working with them as a brand, there is this sense of individuality, this sense of interpersonal ‘let’s only do something that works for this person, that is for this person.’

Caption for the image goes here

I ALWAYS SAY, 'AS LONG AS MY PARTINGS ARE STRAIGHT AND MY EDGES ARE LAID, THEN I'M PRETTY MUCH HAPPY WITH EVERYTHING ELSE'.

You started out as a dancer. How did you make the transition into hair?

When I was dancing it was about liberation. It was about freedom of movement. It was about freedom of creative, embodying emotion through the body physically. And I guess when I started hair, it was initially quite a financial obligation that drew me to it. It was surprisingly quite easy to transition the creative through my own personal body and moving it onto someone else. How can I make this person feel better? How can I embody their emotion?

Was hair something that played a role in your life growing up?

I never touched hair prior to doing it, but growing up in South London, the girls always did their hair. You used Vaseline – that was your glam – so you had real shiny face, it was moisturised to the max, and then the hair was really where you expressed. It was the time of butterfly clips and quiffs and fascinator ponies... Clips, braids, ponytail extensions. Back then, the girls were really making the most out of a bad situation. The girls didn’t have the funds to go out and buy the best extensions, so a lot of my friends used to use the bare minimum to make the maximum effect and that’s something I still do now. Some of my best work was, not necessarily thought up on the spot, but was kind of altered and changed on the spot and that was definitely from me back in the day helping my friends get their hair together, whether that was adjusting a clip to get a little bit more elevation or helping with a blow dry or braid or tying the hair into a ponytail. I went to school in the early Noughties, and I think that was a time when the schools weren’t so strict on how your hair looked. As long as you got to school on time, then you’re good, and the girls just wanted to look good... People didn’t care about how healthy their hair was or what the products were doing to it, it was like as long as the s**t looks bomb, the girls wanted it.


How much does that time influence the looks you create? Do you feel like your childhood plays a part in your work now?

I think so, yeah… I always try my hardest to have the cleanest execution. I always say, as long as my partings are straight and my edges are laid, then I’m pretty much happy with everything else. There’s always an element of mixed textures and clean execution from that era that I really draw a lot of inspiration from because I think that was the best for it… a good hour and a half on glam b***h, that’s where I’m at. I’d rather be late to the party looking fab than looking like real girl next door and on time… I draw a lot of inspiration from that. Although I don’t have any hair myself, if I did, it would be laid and slayed.

I'D RATHER BE LATE TO THE PARTY LOOKING FAB THAN LOOKING LIKE REAL GIRL NEXT DOOR AND ON TIME... I DRAW A LOT OF INSPIRATION FROM THAT.

What do you want to see in the beauty industry over the next 10 years?

I think equality. I would love to see an industry that respects everyone equally because I think that there is still a kind of like primitive version of the industry that has this kind of hierarchy of this person sitting on top of the other.


Voices are heard a lot more than they were before.

There are small steps of change that are already happening, and I think the industry just needs to continue growing in this way. It just needs to continue in the direction of equality and diversity and having every voice in that room heard. If you’re in the room, then you deserve to be there and to be heard and I think that’s something I would love to see more of going forward.


What does beauty – and hair in particular – mean to you?

Beauty means everything to me. It’s quite a narcissistic statement but I think beauty is something that embodies confidence, it braces individuality, it inspires the use. We live in quite a beauty-faced world, where a lot of your exterior is prior to anything else. I think there’s an important thing in that. Beauty has been a step change to a freer world. I think that if it wasn’t for beauty, we wouldn’t be so open to a lot of the minority groups in this world. Even just being someone in the LGBT community, I think I’m not your A typical – or what the world would consider – your typical cis man. I get my nails done, I embody my divine feminine, I try express that in the best way whilst honing my masculinity. I love tailoring. There’s so many things, it’s hard to capsulise it because it’s quite complex. I think beauty is very important because it’s something you can draw from yourself, there’s something really important about imbuing individual beauty and how that reflects into the world. If you feel amazing, then you just project that energy onto other people and when you project that energy that is the ricochet affect, because if you feel your best, then you’re going to treat everything the best, you’re going to inspire people to be their best…

WE LIVE IN QUITE A BEAUTY-FACED WORLD, WHERE A LOT OF YOUR EXTERIOR IS PRIOR TO ANYTHING ELSE. I THERE'S AN IMPORTANT THING IN THAT. BEAUTY HAS BEEN A STEP CHANGE TO A FREER WORLD.

If the party never stops, how can we keep our hair going too?

That is the million-dollar question. I think it’s very subjective to the party: make sure you have your hair sprayed, make sure you have your umbrella, girl. If you’re in a rave, make sure no one touches your hair, make sure you take breaks outside to stop the humidity from frizzing you up.


What do you hope to be your legacy?

I would just love to imbue personal freedom. And liberation of the mind, the body and the soul. I don’t know how that connects to beauty but it’s the strongest form to draw from when it comes to individuality. I’m quite an empath, and everyone that I meet I always try to inspire the sense of liberation. I think when you liberate yourself, you liberate the world.


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