In every career, the path to hitting the big leagues isn’t an easy one, particularly in the hair and beauty industry. Working your way up the ladder takes years of dedication, training and passion – and no one knows this better than Gustav Fouche. A world-renowned Style Director at one of London’s most famous hair salons, Michael Van Clarke in Marylebone, he’s risen up the ranks to become one of the UK’s most sought-after hair stylists.
He’s had the opportunity to work with celebrities and designers alike, including Kate Hudson, Gal Gadot, Leanne Rimes, Oscar de la Renta and Matthew Williamson to name but a few, and has created dazzling looks for everything from red-carpet and runway shows, to editorial shoots and TV commercials. And now, in this exclusive interview with Salon Gold, he’s about to share an insight into his world and grace us with some of his top tips for success in a cut-throat industry.
When did you discover your passion for hair styling?
G: “I finished school at 18 with the vision to become a lawyer. I loved the legal side, and still do. As I started out with my studies I quickly realised there we so many more things I was interested in and it was only when I was asked to help out with a fashion show for the law department that it all began to fall into place. I loved the excitement.
Hairdressing runs in my family – my mum, aunt and cousins are all life-long stylists, but it had never occurred to me to become one too. With this family heritage, I was always asked as a child whether I wanted to do hair and I use to always reply, ‘No. I don’t want to deal with other people all day’ – but today that’s the thing I love the most, working with people.”
How gorgeous does @gal_gadot look. If you want to see my favourite looks from the Oscars and why these ladies are trend setters, click on the link in the bio. . #hairbygustav #vlogger #youtuber #fashion #style #Redcarpet #celebrity #hair #dress #stylish #fashionjunky #hairreview #michaelvanclarke #3moreinches
What would you say is your greatest achievement?
G: “Everybody has their own dreams of how big, famous, rich or technical they want to become. Mine has always been to be the best I can be: to find out more, learn more, experience more, see more, and be more open.
My biggest achievement was when, at just 27-years-old, I sold up everything in South Africa and flew the 8,000 miles to make my new home in London, committed to working my way up from having no clients and knowing only two people, to having a successful business and full column. I love London. It gives me the stimulation I need to chase my dream of being the best I can be.”
What advice would you give to someone starting out who wants to make it big in the industry?
G: “Nothing comes easy.
If you think you are going to work 9–5 and think that will be enough, you best look elsewhere. This beautiful industry is amazing, but it’s one of the toughest.”
So much fun working on this shoot. . Hair by @gustav_fouche @rosievincent @lamphane @summerlangton . Regrann from @bridesmagazine – Let’s get the wedding party started! In our latest issue you’ll find the chicest outfits for all your wedding VIPs 🎉 pick up a copy today! 📸: Ed Miles Fashion Director: @bryony_toogood #bridalparty #weddingparty #weddingcrew – #regrann
You’ve worked with top designers such as Oscar de la Retna and Matthew Williamson, what was that like?
G: “Designers are great. They’re just an inspiration to work with. They give you a totally different insight into fashion. Seeing our industry through their eyes is fantastic – the experience and sheer talent to take their vision and execute it so meticulously. The best advice I was ever given, was to listen, listen, listen!”
You’ve worked with many celebrities from Kate Hudson to Gal Gadot and even Leanne Rimes, are there any other celebrities you would love the chance to work with?
G: “Celebrities are really fun, but so stressful. Everything needs to be absolutely perfect. I did a commercial with Gal Gadot and someone wrote on my Instagram, ‘Anyone could have done that’ – and I totally agree, in a normal situation anyone could do, but having the confidence to execute the perfect look takes experience.
There are a few celebs I would love to style: Madonna, Kylie, Dolly Parton and Cindy Crawford.”
You work at top Marylebone hair salon ‘Michael Van Clarke’ – what’s it like to work at such an established salon?
G: “For me, it’s a very normal salon. We are very down to earth and an amazing team. We have laughs, jokes and fun but we get on with things and always deliver. For some, it can be very stressful to begin with: we have very high standards when it comes to cleanliness, language, behaviour and etiquette, not forgetting our client service… and then, of course, the skill required to deliver for our clients.
It’s like working at a 5-star hotel. I absolutely love it. When everything is well organised, your day works so much better.”
Having worked on red-carpets, runway shows and even editorial shoots and TV commercials, which would you say you prefer to do?
G: “That’s like asking me to choose between my children. They’re all so different, each with their own challenges. I love them all!”
What would you like to achieve in the future?
G: “Growth is very important to me. I am launching my YouTube channel and getting my content out there. I love educating people on hair health and style, and I love the camera, so I’m really enjoying combining the two for YouTube.”
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment?
G: “Hahaha, so many… as a South African who’s mouth works faster than his brain, I have had many embarrassing moments, all funny in the end though. I think the worst time I wanted the ground to just swallow me up was forgetting a client’s name – I’d been doing her hair for 5 years! Worse still, I then called her by the wrong name. So embarrassing!”
Is there anything you would do differently about your career if you had the chance?
G: “My career has been so amazing. I do feel I don’t stop often enough to look at the things I have achieved. There’s always the next thing that I have my eye set on. If I could do one thing differently, I would stop to smell the flowers more often. I’m a fond believer that you have to work hard but must remember to enjoy it as well.”
Thank you so much for sharing, it is always a pleasure to work with you. ❤ . Regrann from @nikita_wellapro – Some more gorgeous red carpet hair by the fantastic @gustav_fouche 😍 .. . . #wellaegc #wellastudiouki #wellahair #wellacolor #colorcreators #sayyestowellaplex #sayyestocolour #redcarpethair #glamour #curls #redlips #coralhair #colorfreshcreate #redcarpet #longhair #hairstyles #fringe #bangs #orange #beautiful #london #trafalgarsquare #model #lovemyjob #coty #photography #happyfriday – #regrann #michaelvanclarke @mvanclarke
You always seem to be working on something, what would a typical day involve for you?
G: “I believe that a healthy mind and body is what you need to succeed. I get up at 6am to go to the gym, 4–5 times a week. I start at work at 8:15am and finish at 6pm, where I see all my lovely clients 4 days a week.
On a Mondays and Thursdays, I do most of the filming for my YouTube, my blogs, shoots as well as my education for Wella – I’m their red carpet and bridal specialist. My schedule is pretty full, but I absolutely love it. I’m constantly looking at what I can do next, always striving towards my goal of being the best I can be!”
Check out all of Gustav’s blogs for Salon Gold here.