16 November 2023

Melbourne Fashion Week 2023: A Mentor’s Journey with Oscar&Co

Written by Ed (@edhair_)

Melbourne Fashion Week 2023 was nothing short of spectacular, and for me, it marked a significant milestone in my career as a Master Hair Stylist. With a decade of experience working at international Fashion Weeks under my belt, I was given the incredible privilege of mentoring two talented Senior Stylists from my team at Oscar&co. For this year’s event, in collaboration with Redken Australia and renowned Hair Directors Diane Gorgievski, Mark Thompson, and my dear friend and mentor, Richard Kavanagh.

The journey began a week before we departed for Melbourne when I conducted a comprehensive preparation session with Macey Coles and Karoline Wiesenhutter. We delved into the tasks they might encounter during the event and familiarized ourselves with the Redken products that would help us craft runway-ready hair.

On the morning of Day 1, Macey and I departed from Auckland, New Zealand, and landed in Melbourne, greeted by clear skies and a brisk wind. After settling into our accommodation and refreshing ourselves, we ventured out to scout the locations where we would be prepping hair for our first two shows and to explore the vibrant city of Melbourne.

Day 2 marked the commencement of our fashion week journey. We arrived at The Good Shed at 5 am, our designated headquarters for hair preparation throughout the week. Under the guidance of Hair Director Diane Gorgievski, we harnessed the models’ natural hair textures to create stunning finished looks. Macey and I then parted ways, with her heading to the Pool Deck show and me to the Regent Theatre for the Fashion X Theatre show—an extraordinary production set against the backdrop of the Moulin Rouge stage. Macey quickly forged a connection with a fellow stylist, and together, we all created remarkable hair structures that dazzled the audience. The day concluded with both shows leaving a lasting impression on everyone involved.

Day 3 welcomed our fellow Kiwi roommate, Andrew Cobbledick, as we embarked on a day dedicated to the Indigenous show, Ganbu Marra. With two distinct looks to create, including textured space buns and wet-look water waves, I had the privilege of demonstrating the latter to the team while Diane handled the former. I watched with pride as Macey expertly handled a challenging model with grace and professionalism. The shows themselves were a moving tribute, featuring models walking amidst projections of art and people from Australia’s First Nation.

Day 4 was a whirlwind of creativity, with six different looks to master for the Commons Collective show under Hair Director Diane Gorgievski. I was entrusted with leading a small team to create a unique mixed-textured look, while Macey demonstrated her talent by crafting sleek ponies. Witnessing her confidently exclaim, “I got this,” was a moment of immense pride. The shows went off without a hitch, and after some well-deserved dinner and drinks, we returned to our accommodation to welcome Karoline into our close-knit group of traveling hair artists from New Zealand.

Day 5 marked Karoline’s first day at Melbourne Fashion Week, with Hair Director Richard Kavanagh leading the way. Hair preparation once again took place at The Good Shed, and the day featured two parallel shows. The first, Strateus Carlucci, showcased effortless, lived-in texture with a unique headband made from face-lifting tapes. Both Macey and Karoline executed this look flawlessly, showcasing their growth throughout the week. The second show, Underground Runway, celebrated voluminous, polished blowouts—a personal favorite look that we had practiced extensively. Seeing my talented team members seamlessly adapt to the world of fashion hair filled me with immense pride.

Day 6 brought two shows, each with its distinct hair challenges. The first was a Pop-Up show with an underwater theme, where Macey and I, under the guidance of Mark Thompson, created a wet look that gave the illusion of models emerging from water. The second show was the Student Runway Show, where Karoline, Macey, and I joined a large team directed by Richard Kavanagh. The sleek wig-wrapped look, complete with white paint across the top of the head, required precision and skill. It was a successful day that showcased our well-oiled machine of a team, working harmoniously to create spectacular hair.

Day 7 marked our final day at Melbourne Fashion Week, and it was one for the books. The first show featured hot crimped and waved hair, creating stacked waves and crimps brushed out for volume—a complete departure from the previous day’s look. The second show, 101Collins, was one of the week’s biggest highlights. Hair Director Richard Kavanagh led the team in crafting sleek, 50s-inspired greaser looks, along with natural textures polished to perfection. The venue, with its grand architecture, set the stage for a breathtaking spectacle. With two sold-out shows, limited backstage space, and a sense of camaraderie, we wrapped up the week on a high note.

As our whirlwind week concluded, our little band of hairdressers from New Zealand had seamlessly integrated into the Australian Redken team. We found a new sense of belonging, and to our delight, we received invitations to both Australian Fashion Week in Sydney and Melbourne Fashion Week 2024.

In retrospect, I feel incredibly privileged to have shared this journey with Macey and Karoline. From our initial training session to witnessing them evolve into experienced international fashion week hairdressers, I couldn’t be prouder. Guiding them through this monumental week was an honor, and I look forward to what the future holds for these two amazing individuals. Melbourne Fashion Week 2023 will forever hold a special place in our hearts as a testament to growth, teamwork, and the indomitable spirit of the fashion industry.