Hugh Campbell Hair Group is thrilled to announce that Amanda Whittome, Creative Director at The River Hair Studio, Dock Road, Limerick, was crowned winner of the Avant Garde Award at this year’s Alternative Hair Show International Visionary Awards, which took place on Sunday 16th October at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
The Alternative Hair Show, now in its 34th year, continued its legacy by presenting an outstanding evening of inspirational creativity and fundraising in support of its cause of Fighting Leukaemia and many other blood cancers.
Amanda has been a member of the Hugh Campbell Artistic Team for the past nine years specialising in precision cutting, colouring and she excels at dressing hair and up-styling. She has also been a member of the Irish Artistic Team for eight years and represented Ireland at both the European and World levels. With a number of prestigious awards already under her belt, including Irish Hairdresser of the Year, European Lady’s Champion, eight times European Medallist and the Irish All Star Award, amongst others, “We, at Hugh Campbell are all incredibly proud that Amanda’s creative works continues to be recognized,” says Group Founder Hugh Campbell.
Competing against hairdressers from all over the world for the prestigious Avant Garde accolade, Amanda beat off stiff competition from some of the best creative global talent with this year’s runner up being Russia’s Zhlinskiy Serge.
This was my first time competing. I attended this show six years ago and I realised that this was an event that I wanted to compete in and work towards in the future, explains Amanda.
Amanda’s winning look, titled ‘Luminary’ shown here on model, Grace Connell, who was “perfect for the look”, adds Amanda, wowed the Avant Garde judges on the night. The judges included industry hair legends, Robert Masciave, Mario Krankl, Robert Cromeans, Ell Essers and Gerry Santoro, while Alternative Hair Show Founder, Tony Rizzo and award-winning hairdresser, Anthony Mascolo presented Amanda with her trophy on the night.
It was a magical moment. To be standing on the Royal Albert Hall stage and to hear, Amanda Whittome winner of Avant Garde. The atmosphere was electric. After so many months of working towards this moment it will be a memory that will live with me for the rest of my life. I could see my sister Sarah in the audience shouting and waving an Irish flag. It was a proud moment for me, says Amanda.
The inspiration behind ‘Luminary’ came from its two significant meanings, says Amanda. The first meaning; a person who inspires or influences others, and the second, a celestial body – the sun or moon or an object that gives light. I hand crafted mirrors and attached them to custom pieces made from hair to reflect my ‘Luminary’ expression out to the audience at the Royal Albert Hall. The result was magnificent. Luminary was constructed of a mix of human and synthetic hair and took a year to complete with each element sewn and manufactured by hand.
I coloured the hair to create the soft pink tones and used many techniques to create the overall look including varnishing, PVA glue and invisible threading. I initially sketched my idea and used this as a guide, but found as I worked on my piece I became more inspired and allowed my creativity to blossom.
The stunning make-up is the work of Limerick make-up artist Jodi Powell. Jodi has been my make-up artist for the last 12 years and I trust her to create my looks as we have been a team for many years. For me this trust is key to bringing the whole look together successfully. Jodi Powell is a true professional and an expert in her field. I feel it was technically challenging but it was a journey I would do all over again. I love to challenge myself as an artist. If you want to compete and represent a group such as the Hugh Campbell Hair Group internationally you have to push yourself. I knew from the start that this was not going to be an easy piece to construct, but I love to be creative and push myself to develop new and exciting elements. On the day of the event, the dressing process took time as the piece is so delicate – the head piece alone took over an hour to apply. In the weeks before the event I did practice runs ensuring that my timing on the day was perfect. I was thrilled the Hugh Campbell team came across to support me. They sat with my family and erupted in cheers every time Luminary appeared on stage. They were certainly the loudest guests in the audience when I was announced the winner. It such a warm feeling knowing that your team supports you,” gushes Amanda.
What’s next for the award-winning creative director?
I plan to continue to compete and also to inspire others to compete. Since I have been announced the winner I have been contacted by many hairdressers from around the world congratulating me and thanking me for inspiring them creatively. This is such an exciting time I look forward to spending the new 12 months working towards the Royal Albert Hall Stage and the Alternative Hair Show, says Amanda.
...And we’re looking forward to being there every step of the way!
Photography: Alex Barron-Hough