INTERVIEW: King of hair Errol Douglas
Errol Douglas was awarded his MBE for education and services to the hairdressing industry. Widely considered to be one of the most influential hairdressers in the world, his role as UK and Ireland Ambassador for Moroccan oil, results in a strong reputation globally, as well as in the UK.
The Errol Douglas salon in Belgravia is unique in that it is accredited with International Technical Excellence. The salon looks after every hair type at the very highest level of technical and artistic ability. Clients travel to the Errol Douglas salon from all over the world. The salon enjoys a loyal following and an unquestioned reputation.
You are often referred as a King of Hair. First of all, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you get started?
I have always wanted to do hair as long as I could remember. I was fortunate enough to have a direction at school. I was great at art and design and used to have millions of fashion magazines so I knew I wanted to target hair. I was born and brought up in East London. My first bus ride was of the west end and Knightsbridge with my elder brother and that changed my life – I knew I had to be in the heart of London. My first opportunity was working with a great hairdresser called Paul Edmonds. He was a great mentor and very inspirational at his peak. He first introduced me to London Fashion week, editorial and print work – the rest is history.
You were presented with MBE by the Queen for your services to hairdressing. What does this award mean to you?
I was presented with this award in 2008 and as it starts I am still the youngest person to be awarded this in hairdressing. This is a complete honour as most hairdressers in the UK and the world don’t get honours like this from their queen and country. It was a huge step for the industry in every way. One of our great hairdressers Vidal Sassoon should have been recognized and wasn’t. My vote would be that he should get a posthumous one or at least be on a British bank note! His influences are around still to this day.
Can you tell us about your creative work process? Do you have any rules?
Creative work process is quite declines. If I am creative at a live show or collection this can take up to 3-4 months. Making sure you have the theme right and also checking that you have the right models. Mood boards for styles, music and choreography.
Usually with a photographic collection I am shooting a year ahead so I would shoot around June/July but the pictures would probably be released the following year so it is important to get your trends right for the seasons. This could be in tune with fashion on cat walk, red carpet and film or you can go one step further and completely go one step up and create your own trend. What I get a real buzz out of is that most people use one or two of our collection shots when they are creating their own mood boards.
What do you love the most about your work?
The people! New challenges every day, new surroundings, I am not always in the same place or country. Being able to educate around the world and having the support of a great team.
What fashion means to you?
Fashion is an open question, my interpretation to fashion is completely different to someone else. Fashion is timeless but at the same time forward thinking. Not everybody can be fashionable.
Hair stylist: Errol Douglas MBE
Photographer: Andrew O'Toole
Makeup artist: Kyle O'Toole
Stylist: Leticia Dare
Name 3 of your achievements that you are the most proud of.
Having 4 beautiful children. Starting the Errol Douglas brand in 1998 with my business partner Kim Clayton and winning our industry award which is voted by hairdresser’s fellowship hairdresser of the year. Can I throw in one more – being president of the fellowship for British hairdressing creative excellence.
What does a brand name Errol Douglas stand for?
Our strap line is technical excellence, we pride ourselves on educating our team in all foundation of hairdressing, cutting, afro hair, long hair, colouring ( we have three colour masters ) so the brand really stands for high quality. We are based in Knightsbridge one of the most expensive areas in the world if not Europe. We are surrounded by super brands such as Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Hermes.
You opened your salon in 1998 in Belgravia. What keeps you motivated running a successful business?
The motivation is making yourself better and making your team stronger. Survival of the fit test, being part of the community and having loyal client’s support. The only negative thing about being in this area is the incisively high rents. There is only a certain amount of money we can charge for hair and there is only a certain amount of hours that we can be open in one day.
Which iconic hairstyles do you love?
Our collection last year was called “Iconic” and that was inspired by David Bowie,Farrah Fawcett Major, Elizabeth Taylor, Purdy and Blondie Debbie Harry. The names I have just mentioned are famous for their hairstyles so this says it all about where my inspiration has come from the last few collections. 90’s and 80’s with a bit of 60’s thrown in.
Who or what are your greatest influences or inspirations?
Some of my greatest inspirations are Mert and Marcus and Nick Knight who are photographers and have shot the most incredible campaigns over the last few decades. The super hairdressers like Guido Paolo and Eugene Solomon.
Which hair products and tools are always in your kit?
Hair products vary depending on the job I am doing. I travel with an extensive kit bag which is a mini portable salon for back stage or print work. I have got about 3 bags currently. One I keep in Australia and one in Russia. I am forever updating my kit back especially when it comes to hair pieces (different colours and textures). My dream is to have a work room instead of high jacking our private room in the salon. My other place is my front room at home, which is open all hours haha!
What advice would you give for the next generation of hairdressers/hair stylist?
Work to build your band, teach yourself as much as you can. Having the right foundations is the key of hairdressing. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Build a special unique technique for yourself and communication is one of the biggest weapons in hairdressing so be the best communicator you can be! One of the quickest ways to build your brand is through photographic and print work and if you can go one better then editorial.