My perception of hairdressing penetrates further than surface level. I view my craft as an art form, I am a designer, I adapt a natural material to create a bespoke style to suit the wearer which can essentially make their day easier, promote self confidence, empower individuality and embrace endless possibilities.
I am also a confidant, I have an ear to lend and it is my upmost responsibility to advise the best care for the hair and scalp. Underlying illness or stress are often determined through fragility in the hair and hairdressers can often predict low health on regular clients and can offer support, guidance or advice to seek necessary medical attention.
Everyday I meet concerned women and men who feel the health or fragility of their hair is being affected. Hair loss is a concern that features frequently and surprisingly affects more people than you think. An estimated 8 million women in the UK have experienced hair loss which in a majority of cases can have devastating results.
For women there is a social stigma attached to thinning hair. Hair loss can affect your sensuality and how you perceive yourself. There are emotional trials and tribulations involved. Some women question whether their partner will still love them, while I’ve known others to become socially reclusive for fear of their condition being discovered. The psychological impact of hair loss can have a detrimental effect on everyday life.
Promoting positivity around this negative situation can often have promising results.
The opening evening of the Duncan of Jordanstone Art, Design and Architecture Degree Show always has an incredibly uplifting atmosphere, this year was no different and I enjoyed winding my way through the corridors picking out my favourite pieces from eye catching exhibits. Having friends graduate in textile design I made my way to the department, excited to see the final pieces they produced. Caitlin Miller’s kitsch prints had the fun appeal and I instantly fell in love with her vibrant silk kimono which was printed with swirls of naked Barbie. Shauna McGregor explored the art of expression and self identity with her bold and colourful prints. Creating a delicate yet handsome array of silk scarves, oversized bomber jacket and on trend culottes, the unisex street wear challenges gender issues and allows the wearer to feel completely unique.
It was the Jewellers that really caught my eye, especially Katie Wightman.
Hailing from a small town on the outskirts of Edinburgh, Katie originally ventured to Dundee to study a degree in psychology. Two years into the undergraduate course, a change of heart found Katie pursuing a childhood dream of becoming a jeweller. As a kid she would sit for hours creating beaded bracelets and other masterpieces and you can instantly tell from the quality of her work that she hasn’t lost that focus.
Having been diagnosed with severe E-Coli half way through her fourth year at the prestigious art school, Katie found herself back home under the supervision of family and friends. Unsure of recovery time, the possibility that Katie may not complete her final year loomed over the 23 year old jeweller and regular meetings with tutors proved that Katie’s health should ultimately be priority.
Illness and stress had varying side effects including dramatic weight loss which made Katie’s petite frame weak and tired. Not allowing herself to be overcome or defeated she generated enough energy to complete her dissertation on time and she began to research the foundations of her degree show collection.
Using the fragility of her own body as a template to cast and create delicate armour was the first exploration Katie made when deciding to emphasize the experience of her illness within her artwork and when her hair began to fall out she was encouraged by someone close to turn this discomforting, disconcerting situation into a positive message for others.
Using silver, resin and hair, Wightman pushes boundaries and has triumphantly succeeded in producing utterly beautiful pieces of jewellery from what may be consider a grotesque material. Having gained sponsorship from Great Lengths a leading hair extension company who can guarantee all hair provided is ethically sourced has allowed Katie to broaden her horizons and create delicate necklaces, chunky rings, tasseled broaches and my favourite long drop earrings.
I had the pleasure of meeting the designer and I was blown away with her determination and passion for her heart felt exhibition which gained her a first class honours degree. I think she’s a genius and has absolutely achieved what she set out to do, raising awareness on a subject that many others are afraid to unearth and screaming at the top of her lungs- this is happening to me and it’s ok if it’s happening to you too!
Katie will take her work along with others from Duncan of Jordanstone to New Designers in London which runs from 24th-27th June at the Business Design Centre.
Full collection can be found on http://www.katiewightman.com
Long live the VEF and we should all face our fears QUEEN!