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Everybody loves a field trip, and the students at the Rizzieri Aveda School for Beauty and Wellness are no exception. Recently, 15 of them spent a day at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City, learning firsthand the ins and outs of doing runway hair and discovering that there are many ways to use a cosmetology degree outside of the salon.

 The finished look on a model at FIT's runway presentation
The finished look on a model at FIT's runway presentation

Under the direction of the school's owner, Frank Rizzieri, the students created the hair for FIT's annual runway presentation showcasing designs from more than 100 graduating students receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Fashion Design. After deciding on a low, messy bun, Rizzieri met with the students before the presentation started and showed them how the final look came together and how he wanted them to achieve it. "This is just one step under a regular designer fashion show, and it gives them experience doing runway hair and working backstage. It also shows them what it's like working under pressure," says Rizzieri, a nationally-recognized stylist who has done the hair for the runways of Carolina Herrera, James Coviello and Peter Som, among others.

Other cosmetology students are also honing their hairstyling skills outside of the classroom. Students at Aveda Fredric's Institute (AFI) in Cincinnati spent their evening hours this spring doing hair and makeup on set for actors and actresses appearing in an upcoming film called Immortally Yours. "Working on this film gives our students an opportunity to explore a career option that a license in cosmetology can bring, apart from working at a hair salon," says Frederic Holzberger, founder of AFI. Students of AFI have also worked on editorial fashion spreads for the Cincinnati Enquirer and CiN Weekly magazine.

Frank Rizzieri fashions a low, messy bun backstage at FIT. Hi students took over from there, creating the same look on the other models
Frank Rizzieri fashions a low, messy bun backstage at FIT. Hi students took over from there, creating the same look on the other models

But even if you've already received your cosmetology license, you can still find ways to hone your skills outside of the salon. Many cities offer opportunities for work on magazines, catalogs and movies, as well as with fashion designers. If your city has a regional or city publication, call the creative or art director and offer your services for photo shoots. Check to see if your county or state has a film commission and contact them. Rizzieri suggests finding a local fashion designer whom you could help out. "It gives you experience and exposure," he says. "Offer your services for free. The first step is just taking the initiative. It's worth it. " —C.W.