QUALITY CONTROL/ CREATIVE STANDARDS

As I've mentioned before, in '64 I was in Calgary thinking my next move would be to Montreal, I met Canada's pre-eminent Hairstyling  Icon Gus Caruso, who saw my potential at the big Alberta Hair Show & invited me to work with his Team at his Salon in Toronto. It was a life changing decision and one I couldn't refuse.


In those days, there was no instructional videos, internet, very few shows and very few cutting & colour classes.


Not only was Caruso's  Salon a hot bed of creativity with first class service, the Staff while mainly Italian, the Head Stylist was Michael Kluthe of German descent, also there was head colourist Solange from France, two of us were British, Japan was represented  & of course local Canadian. This group held Artistic evenings when the staff were free to show off their personal creativity. It was very competitive whether they were working on short gamine haircuts, bob lengths either smooth or flat a Ia Sassoon, avant-garde or gala Updo's. Some special "look" would come out of these sessions and were jumped upon by the Team & perfected. Sadly this practice is not done that much today.


With Gus Caruso’s influence & leadership Toronto became an international hotbed of Fashion & Beauty after he got to gather with many of Toronto's European trained hairstylist's.  Swiss, Germ.an, British, French,   :oandinavian to form The Guild of Hair Design. Almost every month The Guild Members gathered in a member Salon and the owner & team performed to demonstrate their looks and techniques as well as advice running their business.  You can only imagine how this unique hair group promoted the Hair Artistic Business not only in Toronto but in North America. No longer were we being forced to follow, London, Paris or Rome as leaders, we set the trend. It was a very exciting time. The quality of haircutting was creative & precise and all the main Salons and their clients benefitted.

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I believe this excellence continued from the sixties to the beginning of the nineties. Sadly since then, while there are a certain amount of creative talent across the Country, the lack of quality in the standard of haircutting is evident for all to see. I believe the main source of the cause of this problem is that most of the owners are not practicing their own In-Salon Classes and solely relying on sending out staff to attending Manufacturer's classes. These companies main focus is promoting Colour (these classes are good) and the selling of their products and retail products. Can't blame for that. I must mention that professional products are far superior to those that are sold in the drug stores &health food stores (this is another topic for my Blog) Again in my opinion and other mature Master Hairstylists, the haircutting classes held by these manufacturers are at the bottom of their corporate radar and the "artists" they mostly use have not been trained properly themselves and simply pass on the bad habits and lack of concise thoughtful execution.

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1  will not go into how I was able to develop my own original techniques  (we'll leave this for another time), except to mention that at about the 6th year of my career I started THINKING for myself. A combination of logic, common sense and creativity. If you were to ask most hairstylists during a middle of a haircut. ”Why are you doing that?" I venture to say that they would not have a concise answer because most hairdressers simply copy or apply what they have been told without questioning that, just maybe there is a better way. I love to teach but most find it very difficult to change from their "comfort zone" or think about the application of changing when they are actually working on their client.

Hopefully, Salon Owners will once again have In-Salon creative cutting & styling classes and the future of the quality will climb. In closing, one of the horrors I see in hairstyling which of course clients see comes out of Hollywood and the likes of top fashion magazines such as Vogue, Bazaar, and Elle have models wearing incredible haute couture fashion, yet the models have messy unkempt hair. This only encourages sloppiness acceptable to clients and hairdressers. What can one expect when so many are wearing ripped jeans.. One of my pet peeves.

Robin Barker

Written by : Robin Barker

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