Tuesday, March 31, 2009


about fifteen years ago I had an incredible experience. While working in a small salon in Devonport, Auckland I was witness to the transformative power of a great hairdo. A woman came to the salon to have a haircut. New to the salon and painfully shy, she literally skulked into the salon hugging the walls and trying to make herself as small and invisible as possible. She had a relatively sparse crop of hair which had a wave that was a law unto it's own. She was a little overweight and also had quite a large and prominent port wine stain birthmark covering a large part of her cheek and jaw. While I was cutting her hair, I noticed that she avoided her own reflection in the mirror at all costs and she sat twiddling her thumbs, completely disengaged from any conversation.
What she did have going for her were her eyes. Large and bright blue, they were by far and away her strongest feature. I cut her hair into a sharp bon to help create a sense of strength around her jawline and gave her a heavy fringe to accent her eyes. I softened the front of her hair to help cover the birthmark.
Once I had finished cutting, I did what I always did which was to get out a can of mousse and my Denman brush (it was 1992 after all) and blowdried her hair sleek and smooth and shiny. For me it was only natural to care about my work enough to finish properly and to make it look as good as I was able. However, for my client, i think it was somewhat of a surprise. I'm guessing, that because of her lack of involvement in the consultation and therefore what appeared to be lack of concern for her appearance, her previous hairdressers probably didn't care too much either.
Once I finished blowdrying and dusted the loose hair off her neck, I whipped off the cape and held a mirror up for her to have a look at the back of her hair. 
She glanced up quickly (I assume just to make sure I hadn't completely butchered her hair) and when she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror burst into a wide smile. 
That grin spread throughout her entire body and while she sat, smiling into the mirror, her spine straightened and her shoulders dropped and drew back. She almost skipped over to the desk and with that big grin still fixed on her dial, she happily paid her bill, flung open the door, and strode down the street with her head held high and a real kick in her stride.
I have had the privilege over the years to work on some amazing jobs with incredible clients, celebrities, super models etc, but that instant was singularly the most memorable and impactful of my entire career.
It was because of that moment that I created my own line of hairstyling tools, because I wanted as many women as possible to have that kind of experience, that kind of confidence and sense of self worth every day.
I am so excited to be able to present my all new KAVANAGH, GENERATION V STYLING IRON. Hairdressers around the world agree that this is the best iron they've ever used.
Tourmaline infused ceramic plates glide effortlessly through the hair creating incredible shine whether it be for straightening, curling or flicking.
Microprocessor controlled heating provides fast heat up to a temperature regulated 210 degrees celsius and maintains even pulsing heat throughout.
Designed for use backstage at fashion shows and on the sets of fashion editorial and advertising shoots the 3.5m long cord is a godsend for women at home who can finally style their hair in front of the mirror without the hindrance of a too short cord.
And the auto shut off function means you never have to worry about whether or not you remembered to turn it off thismorning!!!
Available now at clever salons for only NZD$247.00
Coming soon to South Africa and Australia.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

iD Looks

I just realised that I didn't post any pictures of the finished looks from iD Dunedin.
So here are a couple of runway shots. Cem Carko (pronounced Jam Jarko) and Tanya Carlson
Next post I'll talk about South Africa and their amazing Redken Symposium event.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

219 hairdos, 4 interviews, one tv segment and a parting at the iD

iD Dunedin, New Zealand largest group show and the second largest fashion event on our shaky isle celebrated it's 10th anniversary last weekend. Boasting the worlds longest catwalk, iD has become an iconic fashion event and sells out the 1600 seat venue at Dunedin's historic railway station in hours.
I am privileged to have been the lead hair stylist for the last eight years and it is one of my favourite events on the fashion calendar. 
This year I had a team of 13 Redken stylists from all round the country and they were:
Mana Dave - Blaze, Auckland
Tim Riwhi - Tu Meke, Cromwell
Carly Walker - Do, Dunedin
Natasha Trainor - HairVN, Dunedin
Sarah Scott - The Hair Company, Mosgiel
Emma Rastrick - Dal Vivo, Dunedin
Kylie Peat - Java, Dunedin
Mark Brood - Java, Dunedin
Djuanne Rusden - Redken, Auckland
Lisa McFarlane - Redken, South Island
Kelly Latu - Blaze, Auckland
Courtney Bell - Morph, Hamilton
Amy Dudarko - Morph, Te Awamutu

The team worked tirelessly from 3 in the afternoon til 11 at night curling, and straightening the models hair into four key looks.
The overall feel was very romantic, loose and unstructured with an optimistic sense. The straight hair was floating and flyaway, creating a halo of hair around the models heads and had a slightly androgynous feel with heavy fringes featuring and a centre part. The look was created by spraying Redken Woolshake 8 gel slush onto the hair section by section and ironing straight with my brand new generation V irons (YAY They are finally here and better than I hoped!). 
There was the loose dishevelled curl which was created by spraying the hair with Redken Fabricate 03 heat activated texturiser to give grab and texture to the hair and then set in an S shape by moulding the hair section by section around my 1.25" ceramic and tourmaline curling tong. The tongs heat fast and have an extra long cord and the added protection of tourmaline and ceramic makes them ideal for runway work.
One group of models had their hair set into a classic hot tong set using my 1.25" tongs and spraying each section with Redken Fabricate 03 to give a hold and to control the hair while tonging it. After the hair was set it was lightly brushed and then braided and twisted into a very casual chignon. After the interval, these models let down their hair and had loads of Redken Workforce 09 flexible styling spray sprayed into it and scrunched to encourage the curl.

World were the first collection out with this big curly hair and it went perfectly with their Swarovski Crystal encrusted outfits. One of the models asked how much her outfit was worth and was told casually $30,000!!!

The night was a whirlwind of activity for me, putting the finishing touches on each and every one of the 219 hairdos, doing a couple of interviews backstage, shooting my 6 minute segment for Goodmorning, out on the catwalk after the interval to draw the Redken prize and a quick interview with MCs John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld, then back to finish the hair. A Tallisker or two was well deserved and thoroughly enjoyed after that!

Next blog I hope to tell you more about the new irons, hopefully a photo of them and some pics of the looks from iD.

Looking forward to Rosemount Australian fashion week which is my next big assignment for fashion...

Talk soon


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

If your hands are curious, please share them...

Sitting at a rickety table at a hawker stand at midnight, sharing an open air restaurant with a large rodent and very happy group of young lovers and eating one of the tastiest meals ever is an enduring memory from my trip to Malaysia in October last year.
Kenny Lai, the Redken educator for Malaysia took it upon himself to treat me to 'local delights' and what a treat it was. I was also lucky to experience banana leaf curry. Curry, eaten with the hands and served on a large banana leaf directly on the table.
It's hard to know where to begin with my week in Malaysia. It was a hectic schedule, starting with a 3 hour look and learn seminar for 70 hairdressers showcasing the latest hair trends and techniques from the catwalks of the world, then immediately following that, I led a smaller group in a hands on workshop where we immersed ourselves a little deeper into the fine points of the looks that were presented in the morning.
I'm pretty sure the local hairdressers didn't know what to make of me when I told them how I came to be a hairstylist and what i was planning to share with them. From what I understand, the literal translation of what I shared with them was something to the effect of: 'if your hands are curious, please share them!' what I said was in fact ' by a show of hands, who is curious about what they are going to see here thismorning?'. Little wonder they sat and stared at me stony faced as the translation of my sory of passion for hairdressing came across in Mandarin as my grandmother wanting me to quit hairdressing now...

The second day followed the same format as the first day only I had to demonstarte different content. this time, the session was around long hair styling. It was a lot more relaxed and the audience by this stage had got a handle my strange ways with language and seemed to understand what I was saying a bit better, although, a number of them commented that they would prefer if I spoke Chinese.  Maybe I should take the time to listen to the learn easy Chinese cds I bought all those years ago. Unfortunately my mandarin only goes as far as Ni Hao and Tsing Tao...

Day three was the start of a three day introduction to session styling workshop where I taught a team of ten specialist the fundamentals of styling hair for photoshoots, and fashion shows, and this workshop culminated in a professional photoshoot on day three with local photographer Kim Mun.
Kim Mun was awesome, his studio was relaxed and his attitude made the whole environment one of easy learning and professionalism. The photos speak for themselves.
The shoot was for use as a coffee table style look book which showcases Redken Malaysias hairdressing talent. I was fortunate to create the hair for the cover and the participants of my three day workshop created the looks for the main pages. I was so proud to see the results of their work. Each and every one of them showed that they had really absorbed the information of the previous two days and had clearly taken their skills to the next level!

Redken Artist Randall Wong of The Met Salon in KL was a gracious host and looked after me by taking me out to some the cities hotspots and while I was there I managed to take some time to do an insalon program with his team. We talked about keys to unlocking your creativity and the guys repaid me by straightening my hair with a chemical relaxing service. i must say, the best I've ever had.

With all the activity, I nearly forgot that the day after I arrived in KL I did a photoshoot for Style Magazine where we took a model and gave her three different looks while illustrating and demonstrating the how to achieve the looks step by step.

The best thing for me from the whole trip was seeing the transformation of the hairdressers. Not only did their skill improve, but their energy and enthusiasm was palpable by the end of the week. Redken Artist Anitta Hisham kept asking where I got my energy, and I slyly held up my Starbucks coffee cup, but the truth is, my energy was simply a reflection of what I was getting from the stylists involved in the workshops.

Talk again soon


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Richard Kavanagh on TV NZ's GoodMorning show

Here's a link to the video clip of my first appearance on TVNZ's Goodmorning show. If you're around on a Monday in NZ or online, I'll be sharing hair trends and hot tips on how to achieve the looks from the runways and magazines.