“A hair festival of epic proportions.” Front Row’s tagline and a mighty promise to live up to. After three full days spent in the Mana Wynwood building surrounded by the brilliantly colorful Wynwood Art District, I can say that I think they succeeded. As a hair show firstie, I arrived in Miami with very little idea of what the next three days might hold. From what my more experienced hair-show-going comrades said, Front Row reached a level all its own.
Day One found us wandering through the warehouse-esque building that is Mana Wynwood, viewing the Luxury Brand Partners’ (the show’s hosts) custom art work designed specifically to showcase their brands for this event. The first hallway faded from art to a line of photo ops set up to represent each of the brands: Oribe, R+Co, V76 by Vaughn, and Smith & Cult. Then we rounded the corner into “The Marketplace” where each brand had a booth filled with goodies and their full array of products so that any salon that didn’t already host one or more of the brands could experience them first-hand.
After thoroughly venturing through the booths and admiring the artistic set up of the space, we had the opportunity to explore the Wynwood Walls, a collection of graffiti filled walls that are rather incredible works of art. The Alter EGO collective of hairstylists includes several visual artists beyond the art of hair itself, so we wandered through, soaking in the inspiration of such powerful art.
Each day featured a Mainstage collection of “performances” by the renowned creators and educators of each brand. Night one was all about Oribe. We witnessed a variety of cutting and styling techniques by industy-famous artists such as Oribe’s Creative Director and stylist, James Pecis, Creative Cutting specialist Coby Alcantar, and “the hairstylists’ hairstylist”, Vivienne Mackinder.
Day Two began bright and early with a business-minded Keynote talk from author Jim Collins. Jim offered up the ideas that Good is the enemy of Great, and that the people you surround yourself with hold the most significance to your business. This really resonated with us at Alter EGO, as we not only constantly strive to go far beyond good to the greatest we can be, but keeping a positive, growing team is of utmost importance to us. The second Mainstage happened a little later that day and it featured Vaughn, Smith & Cult, and a couple of special guests to the show, actress Rose McGowan and a team of stylists who have branded themselves IGK. Vaughn’s talented team of educators put on an incredible display of men’s cutting and grooming techniques, and the Smith & Cult show was a unique performance all its own showing some fascinating conceptualizations of each of the lacquer’s names.
Finally, Day Three brought us the incredible trio who collaborated together to birth R+Co—Garren, “the godfather of hair” who’s styled more Vogue covers than any other person; Thom Priano, men’s grooming and style specialist who’s styled more GQ covers than any other stylist; and Howard McLaren, former creative director of Toni & Guy and Bumble & Bumble, long-time educator, and razor-cutting pioneer. The R+Co show began with a conversation where each man shared his “origin story” and how he established himself in the world of hair. Then, we had the opportunity to witness all three at work, cutting, styling, and in Garren’s case putting on a mini-shoot style show all taking inspiration from classic movies and old Holywood looks.
We left Miami later that day with a new depth of knowledge and appreciation for the products we use and sell every day, a renewed sense of inspiration for this craft that we love so much, and a determination to bring both that knowledge and inspiration to our clients each and every day.