The weapons of mass creation were wielded with frenzy in Dublin’s Burlington Hotel yesterday as stylists, colourists and technicians from all over the country went head to head in the 2007 Irish Hairdressing Championships.
“It’s like hand to hand combat out there on the dance floor,” a breathless Eoin Wright of the Irish Hairdressers Federation hollered over the racket of rapid fire snipping, steaming, blasting, brushing, spraying and an audience given to frequent gasps of excitement.
The day-long hair olympics, now in their 33rd year, saw 400 hairdressers from trainees to seniors battle it out for supremacy across 11 categories of hair transforming skills.
While new tools and wonder treatments have made hair management easier than in the days of the back comb and beehive, the emphasis remained on skill as many of the contests forbade use of artificial assistance from straightening irons to hair extensions to coaching from the sidelines.
In the “creative fantasy” category, however, there were no limits to what the stylists could use or do with their models. “It’s like Alice in Wonderland. Whacky, off the wall, jaw-dropping stuff,” said Wright. “I think I see a peacock.”
All the sport and spectacle aside, the championships play an important role in shaping Irish hairdressing. “When a hairdresser comes to the championships, they see what’s around them and if they aren’t up to scratch, they come back next time with more practice and better skills,” Wright explained. “It instils a great work ethic and keeps the standard rising all the time.”
Judging in the competition was by a panel including the likes of British celebrity stylist, Errol Douglas, and local talent, Jenni Crawford of Kazumi salon, a familiar face from RTÉ’s Off The Rails makeovers.
The championships were continuing late into the evening with the winner of the coveted overall Irish Hairdresser of the Year award not due to be unveiled until midnight.