Ena Sharples would have been in her element.
Rollers, pins and hairnets were in big demand when Sheffield’s bright young things in the world of hairdressing decided to step back in time.
The retro look, back in vogue thanks to the likes of style divas Dita Von Teese, Paloma Faith, Gwen Stefani and Scarlett Johansson, got plenty of good old-fashioned wolf whistles at the students’ annual hair and fashion show on Monday night.
Vintage hairstyles from the 1930s through to the 1950s had been given a modern twist and ranged from Grace Kelly classics to sexy Hollywood pin-up looks, all teamed with clothing to match.
But long before the models - all volunteers - hit the catwalk, the Headlines Elite Training Academy apprentices had been getting to grips with styling hair the way their great-grannies used to.
All the techniques they use on a daily basis had to take a back seat at the washbasins. Their vintage scene was no place for swishy blow-dries, back-combed Cheryl Cole styles or sleek, poker-straight hairdos.
They had to learn how to do French pleats, victory rolls, chignons, Monroe-esque pin-curls and Garbo-style finger waves.
“And they loved it,” reports their tutor, Mel Lavender. “These classic styling methods are what I learned early on in the trade - I’ve been hairdressing for 34 years and learned the knack from the older stylists. Now they are part of the City and Guilds three-year training programme, but often young girls find them a bit boring. Usually they can’t see the point of them.”
What changed their view of vintage was a book by one of London’s most in demand stylists, vintage diva Belinda Hay, whose kitsch Shoreditch salon, complete with hood dryers, is a mecca for Rockabilly girls and pop singers working that retro vibe.
“I laid the book in front of the girls in class one day and it was like a lightbulb going on,” says Mel. “They were saying: “So THAT’S how Dita Von Teese does it.”
“They started practising the finger waves and the victory rolls, pin curling, setting and getting rollers in just so.
“The old ways are very finicky and take a long time to get exactly right. And along the way they found all sorts of inspiration. They realised just how beautiful and glamorous some of the old styles their grandmas and probably their great-grandmas used to wear really were.”
Adds Mel: “There’s a big revival going on - it’s filtering down from a celebrity and niche thing.
“Our young stylists are now heading out on a Saturday night with their hair in Victory rolls.”
The annual hair and fashion show is an essential part of the third year students’ course-work and is also a great opportunity for all students to showcase their talent.
About 75 students aged 16 to 19 were involved and the event at the Embrace Nightclub in Burgess Street also featured scenes influenced by Grease the movie, American Independence Day, Madonna’s Vogue video and the African jungle.
Rosie Osborne, a 17-year-old based at the Headlines Elite salon on Fargate, above which the training academy is based, was an assistant on the vintage and the Independence Day teams.
“It was great to learn the old techniques - they are so now. Pincurled and finger-waved styles are all coming back thanks to the fashion icon celebrities.
“I remember looking at my family’s old photographs and thinking how old-fashioned the hairstyles were. Now I can see how glamorous they must have looked in their day.”
Says Mel: “These kids are the future of local hairdressing and the show was evidence of their talent. The level of creativity and skill was simply outstanding.
“They had to provide everything for their models out of their own pockets; they headed for charity shops and begged and borrowed to get their looks co-ordinated. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
All money raised went St Luke’s Hospice, which is the Headlines Elite charity.
The academy, the training arm of the award-winning Headlines Elite group of Sheffield salons, teaches students from salons across South Yorkshire for City and Guilds qualifications.
Said managing director Andrea Carrington: “The show is a fantastic way for our academy students to demonstrate their skills
and give a taste of the
looks of the future.”