The Conversations in the Background: Life Lessons at ITVA

With every event that we ever attend, there is always some sort of theme. I’m not just talking about what happens on the stage. The looks and techniques being showcased—while interesting enough in their own right—are covered ad nauseum by the beauty media, oftentimes all using the same shots, captions, and enthusiastic reviews.

What I’m talking about is what happens around the stage.

It’s easy to think of an event as big as Wella’s International Trendvision Awards from the lens of emerging talents and inspirations, and typically that’s all that the general public gets to see: the final product. A larger than life show, emceed by a larger than life personality, and perfectly polished presentations by some of the biggest names in the industry.

What started to become clear during this particular event weekend, were the individual stories that all knit together in order to form something this big. Interestingly enough, while each person that I had the opportunity to talk with (some on and some off the record) had their own unique aspects to their individual journeys, the fundamentals were all the same:

The final product—whether it be a beautiful look on a model, or a career that has reached every possible milestone of success—is never as easy as it looks at the finish. The road to success is traveled by learning to embrace mistakes and finding new ways of viewing your obstacles.

While it would be next to impossible for me to replicate all of the inspiring and thought-provoking conversations that were had that unseasonably warm and sunny weekend in London, I’d like to share some of what I learned.

Feel free to peruse this collection of pieces that range from the importance of failure on the road to success to the invisible obstacles facing women in the workplace, and even a completely fictional account of what it might be like to wake up to one of the most exuberant personalities in the industry. Hopefully, you will laugh, think, and be inspired to go out and make some sublime mistakes of your own.

Robert Lobetta: A Lifetime of Success Through Failure

Eugene Souleiman: Working Deep & Sublime Mistakes

Coffee with Patrick Cameron

Sylvie Moreau: The Invisible Value of Women

Of course, if you’d rather skip the interviews and just take in the gist of the trip and events through our photo album, we’ve got you covered below. It’s like a CliffsNotes version of what went on before and after the models and artists took the stage.

And…if you’d like to see exactly what happened ON the stage, you can watch that, HERE.

Before the Show

Model prep this year took place on the floor of Salon International. It was packed, with everyone from trade show attendees to the media angling for a sneak peek of the work to be shown that afternoon.

Hairdresser with model before the show

Model being pinned before the show

The Model Gallery

In which attendees get a chance to see the model looks before they hit the stage. The judges walked the floor, vying for space with the press and attendees. It was a little intense.

The Winners

One of the best moments in any kind of award show coverage is getting the opportunity to see and talk to winners right after they’ve had this amazing moment in their lives. There were a few that stood out to me, for various reasons.


While photographing the first set of winners and their models, I noticed a large group gathering on one side of the room. They were laughing and singing a little and the group just kept getting larger and larger. They were Turkey and it seemed like half the country was there to celebrate.

An older gentleman half-ran up to me with the biggest smile I have ever seen, half-dragging me towards them to join in the celebration.

“You don’t understand—we never win!!”

Puerto Rico

Competitions on their own are stressful. Competitions when your home has been battered by natural disasters, and most of your country is without electricity or clean water? I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. If there was a gold award for resiliency in the face of adverse conditions, this gentleman should have one. He was pretty happy with his gold award in Color Vision though, I think.


If you watched the live stream of the event, you know what I’m talking about. When the finalist from Brazil won the gold award for Creative Vision, she rushed the stage all smiles and “woooo!!!”s and curls-gone-wild. I think it’s the happiest I’ve ever seen anyone ever. After I took this photo, I told her how happy I was that she had won, because she was so happy to win. I don’t think it made any sense, but it was the truth.


I  have no idea who this man was, but I like to think it was the winner’s father. He looks so proud and wildly-out-of-place, and she is just shooting sunbeams out all over the place. Happy people are the best people.

The Traffic Guys

I’m including this photo because shortly after taking all of those photos, I missed my bus. Well, at least I thought I missed my bus. The kind people of Wella eventually found me and set things right, but before they did the gentleman on the right made it his personal mission to see me safely to the train. As I was walking away, he said “Would you mind taking our picture? He’s my brother. Twins, actually and I want to prove it to him.”

I showed him the photo on my tiny LCD screen and he turns to his coworker and said,

“See? I told you mate. We look just the same.”

There’s all kinds of beauty in the world, folks.

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