With exclusive images taken by hairstylist Guido Palau backstage at Lanvin Men's Fall/Winter 2018, Document spoke with Palau to discuss menswear and how the threshold for good and bad taste has changed.
As one of the most well known and accomplished hairstylists working in fashion, Guido Palau has launched careers and started trends with his eye for texture, shape, and styles that both stand on their own and compliment the person wearing them. He has since made the move to Instagram, documenting the hairstyles that he creates in vivid images taken backstage before each model heads out onto the catwalk. For Document, Palau showcases the individualistic styles that he created for Lanvin Men’s Fall/Winter 2018, and spoke to managing editor Megan Wray Schertler about why taste doesn’t matter anymore.
Megan Wray Schertler—I’d love to hear how you interpreted the idea of anti-uniformity—which was a major theme of the show—in your approach to the individuals on the catwalk.
Guido Palau—What’s so great about Lucas is he does great casting, which is imperative to convey his message about the deconstruction of the uniform. We had these kind of pixie-boys, so we focused on trying to enhance them and to tweak their hair and make it look a little richer. Not really changing them too much. They’re very much booked on the way they already look, hence why I had time to do these pictures for you. [Laughing] As an ensemble, it gives a really strong message about Lucas’ vision for this collection. Our job is to be sensitive and to enhance them, but not take away their personality.
Megan—How much of that is a decision made upon seeing the casting a few days before, or are styling decisions made on the day of the show?
Guido—Well, Lucas is very diligent and when he’s casting the boys he’ll take hair notes for me. He’ll take a picture of the boys hair because they’re all different. He’ll say what he likes and maybe what he doesn’t like about the hair. Then I carry that out. I’ll have an opinion about it, but ultimately it is his vision and I’m there to enhance it. He’s very specific about the beauty of the men.
Megan—When the direction is to really enhance an individual’s look, is that something that’s difficult to communicate and manage with your team? Because it’s not a uniform directive, in that way.
Guido—I’ll oversee and have a look for every guy because they may look slightly different on the day of the show than when Lucas first saw them. It’s up to me to weigh the ingredients that go into making him look like what Lucas saw at the fitting. It’s harder for the team to understand because obviously everyone has a different eye, so everyone sees someone differently.
Megan—Menswear has really come into its own over the past couple of decades in terms of the idea of the individual and moving away from the uniformity of suits. Is that also something that’s really affecting men’s vision of what their hair can be in a professional aspect?
Guido—I think menswear has, like you said, really opened up. When I first started doing shows people wanted a more classic look. Now, you can cut hair, you can add extensions, you can curl it, you can tease the hair. You can make it grimy and grubby. Menswear is a big part of our industry now and if you look at the gamma of men’s shows, they go from super classical, to avant garde, to street. There are no boundaries in mens beauty. What seemed shocking a few years ago, what you can do to a man and their hair, seems quite tame now. People really push the idea and the boundary of mens beauty now. When you walk in the street there are so many variations of how men look. You walk along any street, in any city or in any town, and every man has their own idea of beauty. I suppose fashion shows are really reflecting that now.
Megan—One of my favorite things, especially in your images from the show, was how much variation there was in the length of the mens hair. I remember joking with a friend a couple of seasons again that mens hair lengths were almost the equivalent of women’s hem lengths, as it’s one way to gauge the temperature of where we are in society. Are there any trends in men’s hair that you’re happy have fallen out of favor?
Guido—Not really, because even bad trends look good. There’s an irony to them. Sometimes there is bad looking hair which is often pushed on the runway or in fashion in an ironic or nostalgic sort of way. There were a few hairstyles in the 80’s that were deemed as very bad taste, but now that bad taste has been turned on its head and it seems super cool. I never try to link myself to what can be considered bad. My career is balanced on that notion of what is good and bad taste. The whole idea of taste has been turned on its head.
Megan—Tell me a bit more about the images you took. They’re really beautiful.
Guido—For me, that’s part of my job now, capturing images at each show. Obviously I’m a hairdresser, but when I’m looking through my camera I’m looking from a hair point of view. I see form, shape, and texture. I chose these images because they were all different lengths, different textures, and different personalities. When you look at them all together it looks like a very modern take on beauty. That’s what the Lanvin man is; he’s every one of these men. He can be grungy, or super boyish, or slick. The Lanvin man encompasses all these things.
Megan—Something I always love about the Lanvin man is that the cohesive element is always their modernity. I think these images are a great representation of that.
Guido—What I love about the Lanvin man is he’s tough and feminine, and fluid in his beauty. Nowadays, shows are so inclusive, it’s such a positive time in fashion.