MUD is Simon Webster Hair (SWH) Art Team’s collection for 2019. It expands on their previous collections combining street-style, social trends and the styles worn by the SWH community.
As with New England, MUD depicts the broad spectrum of styling and colour work of SWH featuring some of their fabulous clients as muses. The team took inspiration from the catwalk and translated that into wearable, commercial styles.
At SWH, we firmly believe that creativity is innate. We are all creatives. We are all artists. And the SWH Art Team draw on art in all its forms to provoke, stimulate and inspire our creative processes to shape our collections.
We typically release two collections each year. They are an amalgamation of the styles we love, our current inspirations and the progressions we see in our craft of hairdressing. Our starting point could be an individual, a movement, a colour palette, an object or texture. We observe, practice and personalise those ideas to create the looks we shoot. Each look within a collection features a technical or aesthetic detail that has come from our experiences styling for catwalk or editorial styling, but one we can translate into everyday styling for wearable, manageable hair.
It’s that realism that sets the SWH ethos in terms of our collections. The looks must express the individual. The hair must be beautiful but achievable. And the images must be real; no hyper-editing or filtering – just an honest representation of what we love doing. And whenever we can, we source our models from our community.
For MUD, we conducted our usual street-casting, inviting friends and clients to be the faces of our 2019 shoot. We wanted to capture the essence of our subjects along with the energy, friction and rawness of the times we are living in. As always, we looked to the past to explain our present. And we identified our point of reference for this project almost instantly. It had to be a British icon. An agitator. A commentator and revolutionary. It had to be the Dame herself.
Vivienne Westwood has been a recurring figure in the lives of SWH Team. Some have loved her as a designer and innovator of the fashion industry. Some have engaged with her as an activist, an environmentalist and campaigner. Some have followed from afar. Some have worked with her.
But for all of us, at least in part, she has influenced the way we dress, the music we listen to or the way we think. She epitomises SWH’s style-music-fashion tagline. And she is the epitome of the contradictions of modern British culture.
We want to get out of this island mentality and relate ourselves to those taboos and magical things we believe we have lost. - Malcolm McClaren on Nostalgia of Mud
Westwood, Americana and Nostalgia of Mud
Vivienne Westwood’s Nostalgia of Mud A/W83 was iconic, with elements of the preceding Pirate and Buffalo collections that had exploded onto the international catwalks of the early 1980’s. It borrowed cultural references from historical figures and legends and amalgamated them with references to the political and social unrest of the time.
Nostalgia of Mud fused ethnic South American culture with contemporary US Americana and added a British twist. It referenced how the roots of our post-industrial, pop-culture age lie in and still reflect our primitive societies and beliefs. And post the tech-revolution, those connections are just as prevalent and apparent. They inform and shape our fashion, our music, our politics even now. It’s less American Pie and more American Beauty, with a dark underbelly and a flawed, skewed nostalgia and a nod to the notion of beautiful-ugly, the beauty of imperfection, that we have been exploring in recent work.
MUD by SWH was truly a collaboration of ideas, with the largest number of team members working together under the umbrella of SWH Art Team. Contributing stylists were Dan (lead), Hayley, Lora, Max, Rhiannon, Simon and Shannon.
Shot in 2018, the collection’s release was scheduled for Spring 2019. But after previews to the hairdressing industry, the public release was delayed to allow three leading hairdressing publications exclusivity to images. And as the politics and social movements of the last year have unfolded, it couldn’t have felt more relevant and timely.
As with so many of our collections, we shot MUD at The Brighton Studio with the dream team that is Xoe Kinglsey (MUA), Kenny McCracken (photography), Faye Fillingham (photographer’s assistant) and Greg Bailey (styling, using Beyond Retro). Our models were Danika, Polly, Romone, Sheri, Sophie, Zach and Zoe. And as always, they all excelled on the day with great teamwork, enthusiasm and insight into the vision for MUD.
SWH Team coloured our models’ hair in-salon prior to the shoot using Goldwell colour. And on the day, used KMS Style Color sprays to add detail. KMS styling products were used to create the looks and add finish.
Kenny shot two sets of images, one clean and one using a colour-spike to capture moments of distortion and interference.
The bold coloramas provided a rich backdrop, reminiscent of American advertising themes, mimicked by Warhol’s Pop Art prints and fused with modern interpretations from artist like Billy Schenck.
With hundreds of shots to consider, the selection and editing process was a tough one. After the initial cull, there were still over forty powerful images. Cutting the selection to our chosen sixteen was even trickier and there are a few gems that didn’t make it. Finally, we sent a selection of images to a few critical magazines to gauge the reception.
Pro Hair Magazine were quick to pick-up on the shoot and nabbed the first selection of exclusive images for their upcoming spring issue. Soon to follow were Hairdressers’ Journal who took up the remaining images for in-print and online release the month after.
And now here we’ve released the final images together and in their entirety, for the first time.
We’re incredibly proud of the images that SWH Team shot that day. And we’re prouder still of the skill they showed in creating them. But most of all, we’re proud of the teamwork, consideration and dedication that went into the project.
Because shooting a collection isn’t just about the final set of shots that make it into the glossies. It’s about the journey you take together in reaching them. And though it’s hard work it’s what we do and who we are.
#TeamworkMakesTheDreamWork. And we’re already planning the next one.