Friday, July 8, 2011

An artist and a stylist

Cape Town hair-stylist Reto Camichel is changing the way hairdressers all over the world cut hair – not using scissors and combs, but an entirely unexpected medium: clay. By hosting workshops in which his students sculpt instead of cut, Reto has forced them to view what they do in an entirely new way. The result? A rebirth of creativity. His international workshops are already winning him wide global acclaim.

For the stylish few on his personal client list, Westlake hair stylist Reto Camichel has long been Edward Scissorhands – part genius, pure magician. An effusive description, perhaps, but ask any of the women (and men) who have their hair styled by him, and you’ll understand just how important a good cut can be. Many of his clients travel across the peninsula for an appointment, and heaven forbid, if hell or high water means that a visit has to be cancelled – they know they’ll simply never get another one. The waiting list is longer than the iPhone’s.
It’s not surprising then that Reto’s innovations in this industry are causing a stir. Known for his outrageous approach, his theatrical hair shows, his warm, deep understanding of his subjects and students, but most famously, for his affectionately tolerated foul mouth, this is a man used to attention.
On the eve of his departure for Los Angeles and New York where he will teach stylists from North America, Central America and Canada, the international design artist for Sebastian describes his revolutionary workshops. “’Sentimaint’ is the Romanish word that I use to describe what we do,” Reto explains. “Roughly translated as ‘a fusion of feeling and senses’, I developed this approach to get hairstylists to move away from the medium that they work with everyday – hair – and instead work with something very far removed, a head of clay.
“Over the six years I’ve been teaching around the world, I’ve realized that while hairdressers have the skill to cut well, they’re too conditioned, too programmed. They have a trained mental process that often sees them working in exactly the same way over and over again. This workshop gets them to look at things differently.
“In the workshop, they still have to approach the work as they would a head of hair – to create shape and texture and form – but I remove the medium they know. I take them out of their comfort zone. Working with clay helps them to let go of their old habits and to approach hair once again in a new and authentic way.”
In these workshops, however, there are no preconceptions, no judgments, no right or wrong, says Reto.
“Clay is an amazing medium, it has an absorbent energy. Put it in the hands of a hairstylist and the result is fascinating. They start out bewildered; then they find it playful in an almost childlike way. I can watch them sculpt with clay and know what kind of hairdresser they can become.”
The workshops are a result of a challenge thrown out by the Dutch brand manager of Sebastian some 18 months ago. He wanted Reto, the artist and the businessman, to find a way to get hairstylists to reconnect with the passion in what they do.
“I realized that it was not an intellectual route,” Reto explains, “but a primal, artistic, creative space.” Creative is what Reto has always been. He has had a lifelong personal interesting in sculpting in clay and porcelain, in painting, make-up and in photography, interests that especially came alive when he moved to Cape Town from Switzerland 20 years ago.
“Because we aren’t able to access the things that they can in Europe, we’ve had to be resourceful in this country; we’ve had to make a plan. In my hairshows, I’ve had to be creative in a way I wouldn’t have anywhere else. Also, South Africa’s passion and the beautiful natural beauty here have always been my inspiration.”
Reto ran his first clay workshop, with 45 people, in Holland over a year ago. “The reaction was phenomenal,” he recalls. “At first, the stylists reacted with fear. It was the unknown – but I needed them to go there so that they could move and shift. It’s that uncomfortable place, that place of awkwardness, of not knowing what to do with a doll’s head of clay that allows the empty cup to be refilled.”
Students were given an image of a style to recreate in clay and allowed to use whatever hair tools they liked to create texture – combs, clips and brushes.
“That’s when you see the magic,” says Reto. “It’s a rebirth of creativity. They begin by using old techniques and the execution might be similar, but by the end of it, the eye is different – they’re no longer guided by habit. Their new creativity comes from looking at it differently”.
It’s the difference, he says, between looking and seeing.
While the clay workshops are rolling out internationally at Sebastian’s hair “Collections” twice a year, they are also set to happen here in South Africa too. Meanwhile, check out Reto’s clay workshop on YouTube (
For more information, contact Reto Camichel
At Reto Style Lounge on (021) 702 4018

No comments:

Post a Comment