Real | Sydney | Men

2015 Hair Expo Exclusive: Men’s Hairdresser or Barber of the Year Finalist Nathan Yip

Serendipity: if you look the word up in the dictionary it is defined as the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

A good definition, sure, but we like how Nathan Yip translates the word in his collection a little better. “To me it means finding something good without looking for it,” he shared. “This contextualizes my collection as my idea, inspiration and team were formed quite organically through a series of coincidental circumstances.”

When Yip talks about this collection, it’s nearly hypnotic. For instance, when asked “What was your inspiration for this collection? Where did it come from?” he responded with this:

“My inspiration began in my everyday, from the people within my local community. More than anything, through my love of observing people, and trying to figure out their story.”

He continues, “From something as simple as the guy sitting at the bar alone, for example, I questioned what his style said about him in the context of his story. I wanted to know how I could play a part in what he was trying to portray to society. This sparked my concept of looking at Sydney through the lens of its stereotypical social constructs. The characters I portray have stereotypical roles in society—the investment banker, the hipster, the musician, the ladies man and so on. I wanted to go further than this, and through the lens of a doppelgänger, reveal their full potential through likening them to famous males in history.”  And even though Yip himself describes his collection so eloquently, we’re still left wanting to know, learn and experience more about it. So we kept the questions rolling and asked how he translated this inspiration into the actual looks created:

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“I set out to capture real men in their ‘natural habitat.’ I wanted to portray the models in their natural state, ensuring they felt comfortable and at ease. I also wanted to create a collection that gave the viewer a sense of familiarity. Working off the notion of the ‘doppelgänger,’ I’ve used popular identities and appropriated them to make the models familiar to the audience, whilst also maintaining distinguishable aspects of themselves. I’ve drawn out each model’s doppelgänger through styling their look, not to make them a different person but to unveil a more confident side to their personality. Through the styling of the shoot the focus turns back to, the audience, as each aspect is composed to give a sense of familiarity, the scene and model together mirroring the famous character I sort to create.”

To create this multifaceted story—which, by looking at it creates the feeling you’ve been sucked into a short fairytale with the characters and setting completely exposed—Yip said it took almost an entire year from initial inception to the finished product. Once he locked in on the ideas, the story and the team, it took roughly six weeks to prep, shoot and finish. And for the record, this collection was created on an extremely tight budget.

“I self funded my whole shoot and collection myself. I am very blessed and thankful that I have such supportive and giving friends and family.”

Giving friends and family? More like the entire team. The team was a real-deal family affair. His brother Adam was the photographer and Yip’s girlfriend was the makeup artist. His brother’s girlfriend helped him with the written submission and getting all his ideas down onto paper. Those models you see? They are either friends who are clients or clients who have become friends. And even though these are friends and family members, they are actually the people he prefers to work with even if a budget didn’t have to be considered. “I know and trust these people to turn up on the day and finish the job. I chose to use my friends as models because, in part, I actually built the shoot and inspiration around them,” he added. “I also wanted the models to be real and not unattainable and ethereal models. To get the real cross-section of Sydney men, I wanted to use models that lived in the city, who were strong representatives of different sub-cultures.”

The end result is a completely wearable, street-ready collection, one that won Yip a nomination, something that he is most proud of.