BEHIND THE ARTIST w/ SARAH LAIDLAW

// Sarah has been awarded Australia’s prestigious Session Stylist of the Year title an impressive three times; Hair Expo Session Stylist of the Year in 2010 and 2011, and AHFA Session Stylist of the Year in 2014 and Cloud Nine Artisan Ambassador.

Sarah is a great advocate of education within the industry. Her work can been seen in the pages and on the covers of Grazia Italia, Harpers Bazaar, Wish, Madison, Karen, Koncierge, Freundin, Yen, Cream, Singapore Harpers, Fashion Quarterly, Instyle and Rolling Stone Magazine and who can forget her exceptional collaborations with Alexia Sinclair, recently featured on BTL
We spoke to Sarah in a BTL Exclusive . . .

How did you get your start in the industry?
I got my start in the hairdressing industry when I did work experience at Tognini's Hair Workshop in Brisbane and fell in love with how vibrant and mad it all was. That week of work experience turned into a 4 year apprenticeship training under some of the most highly awarded and talented stylists and colour technicians in the country. Actually, if we're talking Benni Tognini and Matt Clements, then I trained under two of the best hairdressers in the world.

My start in the fashion industry as a Session Stylist was a slow burn. My time at Tognini's was filled with shows and photo shoots, so the session training really began from day one. During that time I started learning about makeup too. I then left the salon to be a fashion stylist and did that for 4 years. I really loved it, but missed the ease of turning up with a kit and making beautiful hair so I went back to doing hair and makeup. From there I worked on advertising, fashion, TV commercials and film. The big change really came when I moved to Sydney in 2007. I signed with an agent and started working on a lot of editorial fashion ...and here we are!

Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
I think i'd have to say that I am known for big, couture hair. I find it funny because I do a lot of raw, undone work too. I think it's just that in this country not many people really do those big shapes and conceptual stories. I do truly love the exaggerated shapes and textures that sit well in the world of Haute Couture... that's what makes me jump up and down with excitement.

I am obsessed with the Waving Wand and the Micro Iron at the moment.

What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
I don't really remember many challenges... maybe because I try to just let things flow. So if it didn't flow, I just found another way I guess. Moving to Sydney felt challenging as I was so scared. I felt like oh my god, I'm going to this massive city with all these incredibly talented people... what on earth am I doing?!

Must have product or products for your kit?
I do change around a lot as I get sent some lovely products to try and there's always something new to play with. The real staples in my kit are my range of Cloud Nine tools. I am obsessed with the Waving Wand and the Micro Iron at the moment.

Who are the role models who have inspired you?
All the stylists I trained under were the main influence on me and incredibly dedicated to my education... Benni Tognini, Bill Tsiknaris, Peter Hedge, Michelle Musgrave, Matt Clements, Philip Garoufalis. In the 18 years I've been a Session Stylist the people who have helped me and inspired me to learn, grow and develop my craft are... makeup guru Rae Morris, photographer Jez Smith, magazine editor Marian Simms and fashion director/stylist Michael Azzolini.

What's the next big trend you're starting to see sneak in?
At this stage, the braid will just not die! Everyone is still holding on to their dirty beach waves, messy buns and braids-done-a-billion-ways for dear life.

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Editor

Digital Thump, Sydney