Why I Love Tracey Hughes’ “Qualia” Collection

There is something really fascinating about seeing multiple collections from a single artist all at once. You feel like you’re seeing some sort of personal journey or perhaps a cross section of their creative mind. In the case of Tracey Hughes, though it’s against the rules a bit, I’d like to talk a little about the body of work as a whole before delving into why I specifically chose Qualia to dig into.

Let’s back up a little bit and talk about collections, in general. They are labor intensive, expensive and often completely unwearable. So, what are they for, anyway? Much like couture fashion shows, hair collections are meant to show an artist’s technical savvy in executing their creative vision. The more creative that vision is, the higher level of skill required in order to properly convey the intended concept. Collections are a dizzying display of collaborative creative talents at work and never is that more apparent than viewing the selection of collections that we have at our disposal from Tracey Hughes.

From flawless ombrés, to intricate braiding and exquisitely precise cuts, Tracey’s body of work is truly awe-inspiring. Every look presented from every collection we considered is absolutely impeccable. The overall looks—which include makeup and wardrobe styling— are cohesive and perfectly suited to their respective models and nothing looks overly edited or produced. What’s more, these looks are lovely (and completely flattering…which isn’t always the case in a hair collection). In short, Tracey’s collections show a masterful command of technique coupled with an aesthetic that speaks very plainly to what it means to be beautiful.

In Tracey’s creative world, beauty can take almost any form, but it is always, always well-executed. The overall message to these looks seems to be, you can look however you like, just be sure it’s done well.

So why does Qualia stand out to me? After all that, why am I spending time studying and verbally dissecting the one collection in Tracey’s repertoire that does not highlight any of the qualities that I just spent far too many paragraphs praising her for? Because to me, this collection shows the natural beauty of hair. A true artisan’s talents are shown through how little they need to manipulate their subject in order to bring its inherent beauty to light.

A master chef doesn’t rely on heavy sauces or overwhelming flavors, their technical prowess is used to highlight the subtlety of each ingredient and the harmony that they create when they are brought together. And so it is with Qualia. This is not hair that is overly manipulated, stripped, dyed, fried and frozen in place. This is hair that has been expertly cut and placed just so, to showcase its natural movement and texture. This is hair, celebrated.

To be perfectly fair, Qualia speaks to my own personal style. I love expertly tousled hair and gradual, natural tones and I have half a mind to run out right now and get the cut shown in the very first image. The overall look and feel of Qualia is futuristic meets holistic. Or, in other words, what the cast of the Fifth Element would look like if they all started drinking Turmeric lattes and rubbing coconut oil on everything.

When we asked about the inspiration behind this collection, the response from Tracey was, “The inspiration was to create a transparent sensory journey of colorimetry and monochromatic perceptual experiences.”

Which—on a nerdy side note— I love when I get a response that requires a Straussian dissection of intended meaning and linguistics. Basically, this translates to:

“An exploration of the way that we see color, by first removing it and then employing the use of light. The end effect is unique to each viewer’s own perception of the impact of color. ”

All literary analysis aside, the very explanation of the inspiration is exactly what is being represented in the collection itselfsomething incredibly complex, that is shown to be quite simple.

They say that it takes 10,000 hours to master any one skill. Qualia shows us what happens when you hit hour 10,001.

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