NEW YORK — Eugene Souleiman is an anomaly on fashion’s hairstyling circuit. One of the most sought-after stylists in the international scene, Souleiman is inspired not by trends, fashion photography or magazine spreads, but by fish-rope-tying techniques, Japanese animation and London’s average girl on the street. In fact, this science fiction junkie — Souleiman is an avid Jules Verne reader — is more likely to come away with a hair idea by watching a BBC documentary on sea life than from viewing clips of Fashion Week on the Metro channel. And the Londoner has an American girlfriend, to boot.
All that, combined with learning the Vidal Sassoon technique under the training of Trevor Sorbie, has molded Souleiman into one of the most sought-after hairstylists of his generation, as well as the editorial director and leader, international session team, for VS Sassoon. Souleiman, whose been a backstage fixture at the Paris, London and Milan fashion shows for the past 10 years, made his New York Fashion Week debut this week. And he’s looking to take New York’s hair scene to the next level.
“In America, [styling hair for New York’s Fashion Week] is viewed as a business. I view it as a creative medium and there are very few people who want to try something different.”
Souleiman and his team of seven created the hair looks for the DKNY, Rick Owens, Narciso Rodriguez, Ralph Lauren and BCBG shows.
At BCBG, Souleiman applied techniques from making a lanyard, the braided plastic streamers beloved by campers everywhere, to create the thatch-work-like styles seen on the models.
At DKNY, he instructed his team to make the models look like people, not models. “That glamorous, overtly rich look is very untrue at the moment. People need to look honest,” Souleiman said. Simple, low-slung pony tails left loose, summed up the hair looks there. At the Narciso Rodriguez show, however, Souleiman’s innovative roots were out in full bloom. Ayo, a member of Souleiman’s styling team, helped set the Samurai-type knots at the back of girls’ heads. Not much more than Vidal Sassoon Blow Dry lotion was used to make hair straight and clean. Semicircle side parts completed the look.
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Souleiman is relaxed when it comes to directing the members of his styling team, leaving peers like Ayo and Raphael Salley with a picture of what he ultimately wants but with the creative freedom to bring new ideas to the table.
“I don’t like to tell people what to do or be in charge. I’d rather we learn something new about hair each season,” Souleiman said.
The man who adamantly swears “I’m not inspired by fashion,” but rather by what he sees on the street or in an issue of National Geographic, still has the utmost respect for designers, and even feeds off their energy.
“I never feel the need to justify what I do. I just go to Narciso, for example, feed off his environment and vibe,” and emerge with a creative vision.
Although this was his first New York appearance, the Souleiman profile will soon be raised even higher here. He’ll be a subject of a two-hour documentary on the history of hair and its place in culture, to be aired on the Arts & Entertainment channel this September. Souleiman will be highlighted as a hairstylist of the future, joining coverage on hairstyle icons Vidal Sassoon, Edward Tricomi and Frederic Fekkai.