John Vial is resident hairdresser on the hit series ’10 Years Younger in 10 Days’ and no stranger to the limelight. John has charted a stellar career through fashion, music, editorial and celebrity styling and somehow fits in co-owning a high-end salon in Chelsea, London.
How do you balance your time with such a varied career?
Variety is the spice of life! I LOVED working in a salon but as my career developed, I started working with magazines and fashion shows whilst at Vidal Sassoon, where we sponsored London Fashion Week. That progressed and now I spend the least amount of time in the salon, which I fully understand can be irritating for my clients.
What made you choose such a varied path?
At 50 I got diagnosed with ADHD. I recently told one of my schoolteachers and she said she could have given me that diagnosis 40 years ago! I think it affects lots of creatives and of course the problem with many of us is that we need to be onto the next new thing … it was always going to happen. I think that variety and thinking outside of the box, working alongside other creatives gives us a multi-disciplined approach, which ultimately reflects in the work I do on my clients. I truly believe that if you are not approaching each client with a different idea, you are doing them and yourself a disservice.
How did you get involved with 10 Years Younger?
Funnily enough I asked the Producer of the show how they picked me and she couldn’t remember. It certainly wasn’t from my Instagram because if they had looked at that, they wouldn’t have picked me at all.
What is the biggest hair challenge with these make-overs?
I think one of the biggest challenges is to help people get over their mental hurdles and insecurities. Sadly it’s all too easy to compare yourself to the manicured worlds of Instagram or Hollywood. It’s easy to look at the downside of ourselves, instead of the upside. My hair is grey… well GREAT, no need to use bleach to lift it. My hair is frizzy…GREAT that’s going to help us with the volume. EVERYONE has at least one FABULOUS feature to zoom in on…the eyes, the cheekbones, the jawline, the waist…
What has been your favourite transformation and why?
I mean let’s be honest, the reason we are hairdressers is because we LOVE to make people feel good. So many of the contributors have lost their way, given up on themselves and I feel quietly confident that they all left feeling much more empowered when they saw themselves as we see them. People outside of the industry naively feel that our job is external, which on the face of it, it is. But when you watch the reveals, which are very cleverly done in slow motion, you see what we do is an inside job. First there is the look of confusion, then there is the look of disbelief, followed by pure joy and then the magic happens, they literally stand taller and it all happens in less than a couple of seconds! So, in answer to your question, EVERY SINGLE ONE has brought me and the entire team joy and tears!
You have worked on countless Fashion Week shows…who is your favourite designer to work with and why?
To be honest I love working with new generation designers the most, they are fearless and have no real consideration for the commercial aspect in the beginning, but which quickly becomes essential. That means that for the beginning at least we can really push the boundaries of creativity.
How do you manage the pressure of backstage work?
That one is tough. There is NO way that this can be done without a team. I have eventually learned that it is essential that I no longer do the hair myself, however famous the models are. That means that I can keep the momentum going with the rest of the team, ensuring that everyone is on the same page doing the same thing (and we all know how creatives can go off at a tangent!). In all honesty there have been a few meltdowns…but in the earlier days…before social media and smart phones thank goodness!
What advice would you give to other hair professionals seeking work in TV and Fashion?
Assist whenever you’re asked. Watch the lead stylist like a hawk – we learn so much from watching. Connect with the others around you…the designer’s assistant whose sole job is to check the garments are zipped up could be tomorrows McQueen. The TV runner who is asking if you want (another) diet coke, could be tomorrow’s Film Director.
How do you unwind?
This is the biggest challenge of all for me. I find the best time to do this is when I’m sleeping! Failing that I spend time with my BEST friend on the planet…Zeus, my Siberian Husky