For Art's Sake

This American Salon exclusive excerpt from HAIR by Guido Palau (Rizzoli, 2014) is sure to inspire beauty aficionados with an eye for the influential and avant-garde in fashion.

Guido Palau (GP)—known by his first name in the fashion and beauty worlds—is undoubtedly one of the most influential artists of our time. Using hair as his medium, the visionary stylist, who doubles as creative consultant for Redken, juggles everything from creating coifs for impactful ad campaigns and powerhouse publications to crafting style statements on the runways that propel the boundaries of beauty into bold new territories. Fittingly, pushing the envelope is something Guido does an extraordinary job of in his latest project—a book dubbed HAIR. Featuring 70 unique looks created especially for the book and photography by David Sims and a number of contributors, including fashion journalist Tim Blanks (TB), HAIR is a mesmerizing folio of inspiring, creative styling and a testament to the idea that beauty can be found in the unexpected. Read on for an exclusive excerpt from HAIR. —Kelley Donahue

TB: Obviously, hair is a real signifier, but it’s also just this dead fiber on your head. Do you ever give much thought to that?


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GP: No. It’s just a material, something to be manipulated, teased, and trussed into different shapes and colors to define a style for me. Hair can be manipulated in so many ways. I think of it as a designer would think of a piece of material or a milliner would proportion a hat.

TB: But hair isn’t alive, is it? It’s a dead fiber, and so symbolically, it’s a very peculiar thing.

GP: When you think about hair like that it might seem strange, but my thoughts are about creating something out of the hair, building a character. The hair is just my cloth.

TB: True, the thing that is most striking in the book is the way you use hair as a sculptural material, rather than something alive.

GP: First, I invent a world, then I imagine who’d be in it, and then I can create the hair. The world I’ve created in this book is strange and dark, and it’s populated by a tribe of ambiguous, almost asexual young people. You sense something of the past, and something of the future. I want people to wonder where these creatures could possibly have come from.

Photography: David Sims