By Patricia Wersinger
Last month I had the pleasure of visiting The Vince Smith Hair Experience Salon in Battery Park City – undoubtedly the best cut, color and style in the area and reflective of its raw, uninhibited, industrial vibe. If you haven’t seen the Vince Smith salon, you’ve probably still seen his work as every season it graces various fashion shows. Vince’s education and training include and apprenticeship with Vidal Sassoon and John Gunther’s Congress of Colorists. He studied in Rome, Bologna, Paris, Madrid and London but his artistic talents don’t stop at hair and makeup. He also sings, composes music, regularly orchestrates artistic photo shoots with his salon staff and recently appeared in an Off Broadway musical. I sat down with this veteran stylist and accomplished artist in his loft-like salon adorned with Crafstman hair supply tables,to ask him a few questions about his long-spanning career in the industry and what he sees as the trends that have stuck around, those that have faded and those that are coming back.
BN: Based on your more than 25-year experience, what are the trends that you have observed and which do you think have stuck?
Vince: I love to spot trends as they arise in the general population. I’ve traveled to all the key cities in Europe and I’ve seen the trends coming from teenage kids hanging out in the square, the young people in the club scene, the fashionistas out shopping or just out for a stroll. In my opinion, people in Europe take their fashion inspiration from the established and up-coming designers. America, on the other hand, takes its lead from Hollywood movie stars and television stars. The early ’90s style after the “big hair” of the ’80s was taken over by Jennifer Aniston. EVERYBODY wanted to have her hair. I mean everybody. It got to the point that I had to say “No!” one day in the salon after doing the same haircut on every client for a decade. I simply could not do another “Rachel.”
There was a period that lasted way too long in the first part of the new Millennium as a result of the fitness revolution and the baby boom, when every woman wanted to have a “care-free style” that would look sexy and perfect with no effort but they still wanted to be able to pull it back. Impossible. I hated that trend. That trend came to a halt, though, when Katie Holmes and Victoria Beckham cut their hair into the sexy new version of the graduated bob. The graduated, layered bob took Manhattan by storm. Through it all, the Victoria’s Secret model hair was a look that was coveted by many women. Long flowing locks, wavy, loose curls, subtle highlights, beach-y waves, even the newly omnipresent “ombre” highlights were all trends that were originated by the sexy Victoria’s Secret girls. These trends are here to stay for some time to come.
BN: In what direction do you see hair care heading?
Vince: With the advent of the Brazilian Keratin Treatment and the Brazilian Blowout, lots of new hair care products have been introduced with no sodium, no sulphates, no phosphates and no parabens. This is to help preserve the longevity of the keratin smoothing treatments and to help the environment. There is a big push by the industry now toward all natural, organic products because of consumer demands for these types of products. I see haircare products heading also into the anti-aging bandwagon. Scalp and hair age just like skin. Redken, for example, has introduced a new line of products called Time Reset to deal specifically with the problems relating to aging hair, such as limpness, dullness, poor growth, dryness and lifelessness. We’ve seen a difference in some of our clients’ hair after one use. Another huge trend in haircare products has been created by one company: Moroccan Oil. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a product become so popular so fast! The unique ingredient that this company was the first to use is Argan Oil from the nut of the Argan tree, which is found in Morocco.
BN: What are your favorite looks for the next season?
Vince: A deep side part, a center part, braids, top knots, low chignons, the retro pin-up girl, copper-red hair color and the long layered bob are my current favorites for next season’s hair trends.
BN: What is your personal philosophy for beauty and how do you explain your success?
Vince: When it comes to physical beauty, I believe each of us has to discover how to enhance our best features and learn how to minimize our beauty limitations. We don’t need to try to fit into a certain type to be considered beautiful. It’s all about doing the best we can with what we have to work with and letting our true inner beauty shine. When I look at someone during a consultation, I always see the beauty in them first. I analyze their best features and advise the client how we can enhance their natural beauty with the right cut, color and makeup. Our philosophy for hair color is to use the most gentle products and techniques to always preserve the integrity of the hair. Healthy, shiny hair is always in fashion!
Staying current with the latest trends in fashion in cutting, styling, hair color, makeup and hair products has been part of The Vince Smith Hair Experience Mantra for over 25 years. But it also includes its mission to give the best customer service. Lending an empathetic ear during the hair experience is part of going the extra mile to make sure his clients always leave not only looking better, but feeling better as well. A hip vibe, great music and a glass of wine doesn’t hurt either.