Hair stylist Tina Outen is in the midst of a busy season: fourteen editorials in as many days, plus her first commercial for Japanese TV. Her innovative eye for colour and youthfully organic approach to styling has her sought-after across the industry. From her injection of punky insouciance into Nicole Farhi A/W 13 at February’s shows, to encouraging green-haired teen rebellion as a colourist at Bleach London, Outen has become the queen of hair renewal – looking afresh at high fashion through rainbow dyes. We spoke following her October issue shoot with Ben Toms and Katie Shillingford for Dazed, Sea Breeze.
Dazed Digital: What was your inspiration for Sea Breeze?
Tina Outen: It started off with the location; we were going to Southend-on-Sea, Essex. I used to go there as a teenager, in 1987/88. It was cool to be a poser then, though now it’s hideous, and I joked and told Ben about it. I had this mad car, and in Southend there’s two roundabouts, one at each end on the seafront. Me and my mates used to get dressed up and drive from roundabout to roundabout, hanging out the window. Ben emailed back saying, ‘I knew you would be right for this shoot!’ I dug out all my old photo albums to take, and this ended up being the inspiration: the big hair. It was a great shoot, and the location was outside the nightclub ToTs where I used to go all the time! Katie said that having the photo album, driving down to Southend and having a good laugh all very much set the tone for the day’s shoot.
DD: How did you develop the hair from your photo albums?
Tina Outen: The albums, me with all my friends and the gang, it very much became the direct feeling for the hair. We did a really tight curl, which was brilliant because our model had great layers. Then we went full on eighties revisit with a banana clip. We were going to do straight hair originally, but she didn’t have that hair. To stop a shoot and add loads of extensions…I wouldn’t prioritise that because I like the flow and energy of taking what you’ve got at that time. It would have been a whole other thing to stop and suddenly create another character.
DD: How does Ben Tom’s style as a photographer influence you?
Tina Outen: The photographer you’re working with should define what hair you want to do. They need to be inspired by it, and I always try to do something that’s going to move that person. The way they see your hair is completely different to what you see, because they’ll shoot from a certain angle, or they’ll always move the girls a certain way. Ben is just very cool; he always sends the most awesome references. He likes things to be natural, and have a spontaneous feel, something more organic. He is very about the girls: the models are always who they are. It’s not so much about taking a girl and making her into somebody else, it’s making that girl into the most of who she is.
I like the hair to feel like you can touch it on the page; to feel quite real, still connected to that girl
DD: How does this spontaneity translate onto your style?
Tina Outen:What I identify a lot with my work is having the right hair: I like to use what’s there as opposed to giving the girl extensions. I like the hair to feel like you can touch it on the page; to feel quite real, still connected to that girl. As much as I love creating different characters in a story, I think it’s really nice when there’s a more organic approach. I’ve never done anything with Ben [that’s not organic.]
DD: Do you often draw on personal references for inspiration?
Tina Outen: Definitely. I’ve been hairdressing for 27 years, so I’ve got lots of memories of different times, and different hair being relevant to periods and looks and fashion. You do tend to see something come back, and it’s quite good to have that [understanding]. It’s nice to have a real life reference as opposed to a fashion reference sometimes.
I do plan a lot, and then I try and let it go. I try not to stick to it, but it always comes in there somewhere. I think [planning] is good, because to get a team on the same page from the off is difficult: you’ve got different energies, and you may arrive at a location that's not what you thought it was going to be, or the girl’s asleep… All those things can change the shoot, so if you’ve planned first, it gives you a framework. Because you only get one day. To do these shoots, and then they’re there forever, I think that’s amazing.
I’m a huge film person; I love the old Hitchcock movies. I’ve got loads of cult films too, and most recently I’ve been looking at Buffalo 66
DD: What else inspires you?
Tina Outen: I’m a huge film person; I love the old Hitchcock movies. I’ve got loads of cult films too, and most recently I’ve been looking at Buffalo 66. You forget what Christina Ricci was like with blonde hair, in the little blue dress dancing in the spotlight. I used to watch Twin Peaks all the time, which was very much what The Miu Age shoot [Dazed, August 2013] was based on.
I’m also inspired by women of the early 19th century. I think they shaped everything. Not just the hair, but the attitude, what women wanted to be and become and be able to have. It’s amazing thing to look back on.
DD: You also work for Bleach London – what’s next for hair colour after the now ubiquitous dip dye?
Tina Outen: The girls that were having dip dyes are now having full head bleaches and the colours are going everywhere. I think white hair will always be there, but the pinks and peaches and pastels, they’ve been around for such a long time, but now it seems to be an expression of rebellion. It’s a way for young girls to be rock and roll, something that says ‘I don’t want to conform’. It’s a pain that they wash out quickly, but that encourages a lot of girls as well. It’s not forever. A lot of the time they’re just doing it to piss their parents off, to go home with it. It’s kind of brilliant.
Follow Natasha Slee on Twitter here @tashalouises