Conversation with John Mullan, international session stylist and founder of Stone Hair is recognised as the best salon in Kingston Upon Thames. He regularly works for London, Paris, Milan and New York Fashion weeks and has been a hair stylist on various music videos, fashion shows, look books and advertising campaigns such as Versace 1969, Topman Generation Magazine and NU Textiles. He has worked with Lily Cole, VV Brown, Carmen Chaplin, Zebra Katz, The Courteeners, Toby Stephens, Jade Thompson and many others.
Words by Samuel Afadama, Photo by Ronya Galka
What do you do for work?
In my work I am lucky enough to travel the world and make women look beautiful whilst meeting exciting new people for different projects. I am a session stylist and owner of a successful salon based in Kingston upon Thames.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a stylist and when did you start?
Twenty seven years ago I realised there was more to life than sniffing glue and my mother introduced me to a hair salon in order to keep me out of trouble in Belfast. I was surrounded by creative people who enjoyed what they did and realised I wanted to be a part of that.
Why did you pursue hairdressing? What are your career highlights?
I have been very lucky to have some amazing opportunities and work with fantastic people. One of my career highlights is opening my first salon at the age of 21, my father helped me do all the shop fitting. For the first time I think he believed in my vision. At school I wasn’t very academic although I enjoyed it. When I was there I did well in creative subjects such as woodcutting and art and I found in hair dressing I was able to get an artistic outlet which is something I missed from school. Another highlight is doing the La Perla show in New York, that is something I will never forget.
What is your hairdressing style?
I asked a friend to help me with this question and his words were “Original, weird and wonderful”.
What scissors do you use for creating your cuts?
My scissors are 7 and a half inch Yamato.
What is the most amazing look you have ever created and what is your favourite hairstyle?
The most amazing look I have ever created? I am constantly striving for perfection and always learning new techniques and constantly evolving so I wouldn’t say I have one favourite piece of work as I am always striving to do better. Quite often I play with the hair and leave it for a while and come back to it, I recently shot a front cover for L’Officiel with Ana Barros in Istanbul, the hair was very simple yet beautiful. Sometimes it can be harder to create the most simple things. I take a lot of inspiration from the past, I don’t have a favourite hair style as it depends on the suitability and the individual.
What ‘Colouring’ brand do you highly recommend and do you use in your salon? What benefits does it have?
Carly our top colourist at Stone uses and recommends L'Oreal – Inoa, richesse and diarichesse. The benefits of L'Oreal are that it does not include any ammonia (ammonia which can cause breakage and be harmful to the hair). L'Oreal colour generally leaves the hair nourished with a sublime shine.
Twenty seven years ago I realised there was more to life than sniffing glue
Talking about hair-cuts: Past winter we saw many celebrities showing amazing ‘bob’ in the street, what is going to be the most fashionable cut for men and women in 2014?
Hair trends for women will be a longer version of the bob with a strong parting, tonal colours and a natural blow dry. Effortlessly chic is the way forward for women’s hair in 2014. Mens hair will continue to remain on trend with classic styles as we are seeing a lot more 1920s barbering techniques come into play. We are also seeing a lot more facial hair in 2014 and so grooming that becomes a part of it.
Are these haircuts suitable for any age? What kind of image will it create? Will it make us look very serious or carefree? How would you describe it?
The longer version of the bob when cut correctly can either be worn for a easy going laid back look or styled more structurally with clean sleek lines. All ages will be able to wear this look – young or old looks great on everyone. The mens look will be styled using appropriate products for the image they are creating that day.
What would you recommend for hair grooming at home without spending too much time on it?
Personally I love the botanical brand phyto. It is a product we have stocked in Stone hair since we first opened. The defrisant balm is brilliant for minimising blow dry time and leaving the hair more manageable for styling whilst the volume active spray is great to give your hair that extra boost and glamour.
What kind of hair cuts will favour rounded faces, square jaws and oval faces?
Round face – for clients with a rounded face long hair works best as it lengthens the face. Any layers around the face look better kept longer as well so not to emphasise the face shape even more. A side parting can help add more balance to the style.
Square jaw – If you have a square jaw I suggest you go for cuts that soften the angular facial structure for example having layers around the face starting at the jaw line heightens the face so it looks longer and less severe.
Oval face – If you have an oval face shape you are a very lucky girl. You can wear quite extreme cuts like the pixie or a straight shoulder cut. If you want to go for layers just make sure they start from the chin downwards.
How do your clients communicate the style they want? Who is your ideal client?
I always do in-depth consultations, that way the client and I can both go over ideas and address their needs and wants. Sometimes visuals from magazines and online can help as the hair isn’t as formally styled as from hair magazines. A client that likes to experiment and who is open to change and new ideas is my favourite type to have in. I believe its all about developing trust and that will happen over time, we all like nice people.
As a customer what should I do if I feel my stylist is not listening?
If you do not feel comfortable with your stylist stop the conversation before you go for the cut as if its not right it can take a very long time to get the hair you desired. A proper consultation can take up to half an hour if the client is unsure of what they want and it is very important that the client and stylist are on the same page.
If you feel they aren’t listening simply tell them, let them know that what they are talking about is not what you hand in mind. At the end of the day the stylist wants the client to leave the salon happy knowing they did a good job and so communication is very important. As a client don’t be afraid to say no but do listen to the advice your stylist gives you.
How do you advise your clients against the colours that may not work on them, but their heart is set on it?
Carly our creative colourist at Stone explains the pro’s and con’s to her clients whilst doing the indepth consultation. She will get colour swatches to show them the outcome colours and offer alternatives and suggestions if she feels the clients colour choice will have a bad impact. Ultimately if a client wants a colour and it isn’t going to work or look good it is best they are pre-warned as if the idea in their head is unattainable its best to look at the options of what is achievable and ensure the client is happy with the end result. At the end of the day we wont do anything we don’t feel comfortable with.
Whats your product of the moment to use on gents and why?
Phyto offer a matt texturing paste which thickens the hair, is perfect for styling and creating versatile looks.
What hair colour will be the most fashionable for Spring/Summer 2014 for men and women, or will blondes, brunettes and red-heads live happily together?
Blues and Pinks are out! Blonde is going to be big in 2014, women are going lighter and the blondes will be making a statement. Highlights are back in and the dip dye is fading out. Mens hair will be enhanced with natural colours and flashes.
Which kind of complexion will this colour suit and which skin colour must avoid them?
Going lighter is tailor made by your colourist so if done well it can suit all complexions, your colouring will determine how light you can go but warming tones will suit all and your colourist will be able to advise you.