Most of the time, you’ll find that you can stick to a solid few tried-and-true styles with your clients; a set of layers here, a buzz cut there, maybe a fancy updo for a wedding now and then. But hair styling is an art form like any other—in fact, part of what makes it so incredible as an art form is the fact that our hair is such a profound extension of our faces, and our personalities. When a stylist is given the chance to really go wild, they’re in the realm of avant-garde hairstyling. It pushes the boundary of what hairstyles can do, and creates a piece of living, moving art.Avant-garde styles are literally filled with infinite possibilities. By using hair extensions, supports, and lots of product, a stylist can transform a head of hair into literally anything. Japanese artist Nagi Noda became world-famous with her series of animal hair hats, where she used extensions and a lot of patience to form animals out of the models’ hair. Avant-garde hair styles are often seen at high fashion shows, where they compliment the couture on display by turning the model into a living, breathing piece of moving art.
What are the secrets of the world’s best avant-garde hairdressers? Matte, clay-like products are one of the key ingredients to building a huge mane of sculptable hair; high gloss products can seep into the root and cause it to collapse, which leaves the hair heavy instead of pliable and light. Back-brushing, of course, is the standby technique to create volume in hair; sponge-like hair supports can provide extra height and serve as a support to anchor extensions to the head.
In the end, it’s all up to your imagination. Look at your tools and consider how they can be used in different ways; try using your flat iron to crimp portions of a client’s hair to serve as a geometric base for further building, or take inspiration from classic hats and try to recreate them with hair. There is literally no limit to the wonders that are possible when hair stylists set out to create art; it may take a lot of bobby pins and hair spray, but the scalp truly is your playground.