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OMC Hairworld 2019
Photography Luca Anzalone

See radically creative styles from OMC Hairworld 2019, the Olympics of hair


TextAlex Peters

Photographer Luca Anzalone and stylist Elisa Zaccanti report from this year’s competition

Bringing together the highest levels of creativity, talent and competitive spirit, the OMC Hairworld is an annual championship for hair, make-up and nail professionals from around the world.   

Known as the ‘Olympics of Hair’, contestants are judged in categories ranging from Classic Fade Cut to Fantasy Style, from Body Painting to Casual Bridal Make-up as they compete to become World Champions in their field.

Taking place at Porte de Versailles, Paris, stylist Elisa Zaccanti and photographer Luca Anzalone were there to report on the scenes. Initially, taken aback by the wildly creative, unconventional styles, by the end of the competition both Zaccanti and Anzalone left transformed by what they had seen. “I learnt how to appreciate what was happening there,” says Anzalone. “The fact that were no rules or specific aesthetic countries had to commit to, made their creative process free of any limitations and ultimately genuine.”

Zaccanti agrees. “Regardless of my taste, the level of their execution was extremely high and you couldn’t do anything but appreciate that celebration of beauty,” she says. “I left the show moved by those looks.”

Here, the pair muse over the competition and what they saw at this year’s edition.

How did you first come across the OMC Hairworld?

Elisa Zaccanti: I came across a bunch of OMC images by chance while I was researching another project. I was intrigued by the mannequins’ identical faces, so I got curious and started looking for the source. It looked like something quite obsessive and I’ve always been interested in other people’s compulsions.

I discovered it was a hair and beauty world championship and since the images you could find online were purely commercial, I thought they would make the perfect subject for a fashion reportage from someone with a very distinctive vision – so I reached out to Luca Anzalone.

Eventually, I found out that what looked like a weird obsession was actually one of the contest rules: only one mannequin brand (the sponsor’s) is allowed. Even so, the fact that you are surrounded by identical faces that slowly start to be transformed into a kaleidoscope of different shapes and colour by the hand of the participants makes it for a really fascinating – and slightly surreal – show.

The looks are quite extreme. Can you describe some of the things you saw that stood out to you?

Luca Anzalone: Wow, it’s very hard to tell. The whole experience of following the making of the looks blew me away repeatedly. Each competitor was there to impress jurors and present the most shocking while still perfectly executed look anyone could ever imagine. From 3D printed face mask to over sculptured hair, from laborious dying techniques to tedious obsession for nail details, from extravagant costumes to fantasy characters. The backstage was pure chaos, some looks took roughly six hours prepping time and you could see the final piece coming to life, it was something I’d never seen before to that extent all happening in one place. 

What were the trends that emerged from the competition?

Luca Anzalone and Elisa Zaccanti: Trends were highly dependent on the category people were competing. You could see how each category would shape the aesthetics down i.e. fantasy category you would see fairies and warriors, for fade cuts Punk style looks were the majority. Body painting was the most chaotic in style, referencing anything from ancient goddess, sea creatures, divinities to fashion icon such as Karl Lagerfeld. Fashion Bridals dresses were hyper influenced by haute couture collections from designers such as Galliano, Iris Van Herpen, and McQueen. Bridals looks were a mixture of Carnivalesque references and culture-based influences from each country. Nails were a completely different chapter, with some of the most bizarre ideas could ever think of, from nail-candles or nail birdcage look or butterfly nails to Chinese dolls hanging from the nails. 

Do you think any of the looks will become the next street hair trend for the public?

Luca Anzalone: When I first walked inside the exhibition I ran straight backstage as I was curious to follow the prepping. Looks were so extreme and outwardly seemed so detached from the public eye or even from the fashion industry I’m part of. However, I have to be honest, throughout the day I learnt how to appreciate what was happening there. The fact that were no rules or specific aesthetic countries had to commit to, made their creative process free of any limitations and ultimately genuine. And I could see the audience appreciating that too, the authenticity of those creations as well as their mesmerising beauty, that almost felt unachievable for the public to recreate. I believe that could be the start of the transition, wherefrom the extreme can be diluted and mixed into the general understanding of what you could achieve with your skin and hair, body. It’s only a matter of time when things start becoming acceptable and within this process there will be a change over the current trends, preferring now less rich details looks and natural look.

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