By Julia Eskins
Photography by Aleyah Solomon
It’s Monday night at the Brennen Demelo Studio. Though the salon is officially closed for the evening, a warm glow spills onto Adelaide Street as I step inside to meet hairstylist and co-owner Matthew Collins.
Despite Toronto’s growing demand for “lobs” (long bobs), the floor is pristinely clear of snipped locks. Industrial furniture and hair illustrations further add to the “studio” vibe. After all, creating the perfect coiffure is an art in itself.
Just ask Collins, who has been a L’Oréal Professionnel artist for four years. In addition to styling for several editorial shoots, international fashion weeks and television broadcasts, such as Project Runway Canada and the MuchMusic Video Awards, he delivers double-take-inducing ’dos daily.
With the fifth anniversary of Brennen Demelo Studio approaching, Collins talks to FAJO Magazine about the art of styling, key looks for 2014 and hair survival tips for winter.
How did you start as a hairstylist?
It started when I was 12 years old. I was obsessed with getting my hair cut. My parents bought me my own hairdressing kit because I wanted to get my hair cut once a week, but they would only pay for me once a month. Then, when I was about 16, I started to convince my friends to let me cut their hair. I was a jock in school and no one trusted me. So, I ended up giving everyone a $50-guarantee — “if I screw up your hair I’ll give you $50.” That’s kind of where it all began.
What would you say your specialty is?
All of it, really. People always ask me what my favourite is — colouring, cutting or styling — but I love the total look. I love being responsible for everything from start to finish.
Do you go in with a vision for each client?
There are a lot of hairstylists that go in with that idea, but I think that’s a very egotistical approach. It’s very much what you want — I can further add to that. Generally, the way I deal with my consultation is by asking, “What do you hate about your hair, and what have you had done to your hair that you hated?”
What has been the most rewarding project so far?
My work with L’Oréal Professionnel. Five times a year we do big hair shows, where we stretch the limits and boundaries of hair. That adds to my salon life and my editorial life, as well as public speaking. Sitting in front of 1,000 hairdressers and teaching them a hair cut for an hour has made it easy for me to be on camera. It’s made every aspect of my career better.
What key trends for winter are you really latching on to?
Hair is going up more. We’re seeing a lot of buns, but people are doing them a bit differently — with braids, twists or knots.
We’re also going to see a comeback for straight hair. Especially on the runway, we’ve seen curly hair for a long time. That curl is now mimicking natural hair — it’s mimicking ‘not doing anything’ to your hair. A little bit of glamour is coming back too.
What’s the quintessential “it” haircut for this season?
I think what it is right now, and maybe what it was last season, is what people are calling “the lob.” Alexa Chung first inspired it. The cut is anywhere below the chin to above the collarbone — very blunt with some internal texture and light layering. It’s meant to look kind of moppy.
What’s the easiest hair tip everyone should know?
Put your hands through your hair after you curl it. It drives me mental. Most of the time girls are overdoing it. That’s my biggest pet peeve with hair.
Which product is an absolute must-have for this winter?
You always want to have a serum. Mythic Oil by L’Oréal Professionnel is my favourite. You put a pump or two, maybe less, in your mid-lengths and ends after you shampoo, condition and squeeze the water out of your hair. It’s just going to give it some moisture.
It’s the go-to. Every client that comes into the salon leaves with one.