1ON1: After the Awards: Dimitri Papas

Luminous, sophisticated and distinctive, these were the words that Dimitri Papas used to describe his winning collection Rebirth 7.0. It is this collection that landed him the illustrious title of “Australian Hairdresser of the Year.”

His intention was to create a collection of sophisticated cutting and coloring techniques with very polished finishes; looks with a very high level of aesthetic quality. And all the while, he wanted to create it using everyday people as models.

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“It was important to me that the resulting looks have energy, movement and versatility and also work across multiple dimensions” shared Dimitri.

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And work they do.

Looking at architecture and contemporary art for his inspiration, he saw how artists and designers break techniques apart and reassemble them to create new pieces, He wanted to replicate this in his own work by breaking apart traditional techniques and then creating looks that are multidimensional, yet still wearable styles.

The fact that Dimitri wanted to use real women and not models is a testament to his confidence, ability and his hairdressing philosophy. Working with non-professional models can be a challenge, especially when you are entering an event like Hair Expo. You need to make sure not only does the hair look great from every angle, but also that the “models” can portray your vision so it comes across on camera.

“I knew I had to have strength captured behind the lens on the day, and in the end we finished up with a lot of great looks. I always say that working with limitations or challenges often results in the greatest creativity and innovation.”

To diffuse these looks down to everyday, wearable styles, Dimitri recommends making the hair softer and looser or keeping the cuts a bit longer. Similar to what happens in the fashion world when looks are translated from runway to wearable, it’s always about lifestyle, hair type and client suitability, which Papas always keeps in the forefront of his mind. And his collection Rebirth 7.0 is just that—a perfect blend of craftsmanship and suitability.

After the awards, I caught up with Dimitri and asked him the following:

How long did it take to take this collection from inspiration to reality?

It is really hard to say as I spend a lot of time thinking about ideas in my head prior to actually executing them. I have concepts that I consider and evolve for a long time, but then until I see the final selected models I’m hesitant to clearly define exactly how it’s going to come together. It’s really important to me to leave room for inspiration and creativity as a response to issues I encounter on the day.

Why did you choose this specific team to work with and these specific models?

I’ve worked with Andrew and Kylie O’Toole many times before. As a photographer and makeup artist they have a great synergy. For color, there is no one better than my business partner, and Australian Colorist of the Year 2014, Justin Pace, and Shannah from the Papas and Pace Artistic Team. The models were fantastic. I specifically chose the majority of my models to be everyday people, rather than professionals. I wanted to show the transformative power of an amazing haircut and color, that it can be worn by everyone, in everyday situations. This is why I feel like this collection is so strong.

What one thing about this collection are you most proud of?

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By challenging convention by using women from real life instead of fashion models, I showed that beauty can be found in everyone, and that it can be created in the every-day salon.

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Which image is your favorite one from the collection and why?

That’s a hard question to answer. I like all the girls. Maybe Amanda (the short look). It’s definitely what I’m about and it can be worn tomorrow in the salon. These days people are scared to go short because their haircuts are one dimensional. As hairdressers, we need to add more dimensions to our work. With this haircut, if you look closely, it is actually not symmetrical at all, which will allow her to wear it both ways or even off her face, creating many different looks. This haircut was executed for her to give her individuality and empowerment. The disconnections give her the movement and softness too. Complemented by the cleverly placed colour work, this made the look radiate.

Can you tell us a little about the trends that you incorporated in these categories, to contribute to the overall look/feel:

Hair Shape: Rebirth was about recreating and re-energising the current looks with real world people that can be translated back to the salon. I like working with complex shapes and really precise techniques—everything is exposed so you need to make sure your thinking cap is on.

Hair Color: Colour is bold, yet tasteful, accentuating the precise cutting lines. I really wanted to work with colours that come from the elements; minerals, semi-precious stones and metals. There’s a very natural feel to it, but with a highly sophisticated edge.

Makeup:  Makeup is kept minimal featuring sun-kissed skin, smoky eyes and pale apricot hued cheeks and lips, making the most of each real-life woman’s features, and ultimately showing the transformative power of a haircut that is strong, precise and tailored to the individual.

Fashion:  The clothing is reflective and luminous, shot with movement, showcasing the strength and power of the haircuts and the models. Metals, minerals and natural stones strongly inspired the styling of this collection, including quartz, gold, silver, bronze, onyx and volcanic lava.

You have an iconic hairdresser as a father. What’s the best thing your dad taught you about the industry?

My father really taught me the importance of perfecting your technical experience with the rest to follow. He’s also really charming. Watching how clients respond to that from a very young age was eye opening. It’s not just about the haircut, it’s also about making people feel valued and important, and that’s everyone from staff and suppliers through to your clients and the people you come into contact with every day.

Did you feel pressure coming up having Stelios as your dad?

My father, and also my mother, were two of the greats of Australian hairdressing. Growing up I felt nothing but supported by both of them, and convinced that I wanted to make them proud and continue their legacy. I was also fortunate to work under Bennie Tognini, so I really felt as though I had the best of both worlds; working for two of Australia’s leading salons at the time. My stepfather who also raised me empowered me to be the best I can be. He is the one who has kept me level-headed and balanced in my life!

Do you think there is a specific style to Australian hairdressers and if so what is it?

I think Australian Hairdressers have their own style but it’s hard to explain. I think it’s definitely appealing. A little raw and commercial, but not so coiffure like the europeans. A little like the English, but with a slightly more editorial feel. Probably a little more polished than the Americans. Not so premeditated and textured like the Asian countries.  

Do you think the the hairdressers in Australia are different from elsewhere in the world and if yes, how so?

In many ways, Australia is leading the way in innovation and creativity in hairdressing. We blend precise cutting and exceptional technical expertise with a relaxed aesthetic that is part of the Australian way of life. You only have to look through a lot of international hair magazines and websites to see how strongly Australian talent is represented.

What does it mean to win Australian Hairdresser of the Year?It’s only just sinking in. It’s been a crazy few weeks, and to sum it all up, I am tremendously honored and humbled by this award. It is the culmination of many years of hard work and effort, not only on my part, but also the energy and inspiration I am surrounded by every day in my team at Papas and Pace and my family and friends who are such great supporters of my work.