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Currently based in New York City, hair stylist Erol Karadag was moved by the ingenuity of the hairdressing craft at an early age. At 14 years old, the Turkish-born hairstylist entered the field as an apprentice in his hometown of Istanbul. He went on to receive formal training at The Sassoon Academy in LA as well as in NYC, and eventually started working freelance. While his portfolio brims with refined techniques, and precise finishes, his creative eye is not to be underestimated. With a constant forward-thinking vision, the balance of practicality and creativity, lies at the heart of Karadag’s love for his work.

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Joseph Paradiso + Yuki (INFRINGE Magazine)

Where can you always count on finding inspiration? Ideas find me everywhere – a person’s face, an event, a feeling and a sound all have an equal chance of stirring up an emotion and a thought that could later manifest in the form of hair. I am also infinitely inspired by the heritage of Vidal Sassoon and my favourite hairdressers: Eugene Souleiman, Toni & Guy, Julien d’Ys to name a few.

If you had to choose between texture, colour, and shape, what would you choose? For me, shape takes precedence over all else. My work is primarily focused on the form, balance and purpose. I see shape as the essential element, a framing of the hair aesthetics, and I’ve learned that it’s equally important from a photographic standpoint. I use other components such as colour and texture to enhance and accentuate the hair composition.

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Guillaume Roemaet (personal project)
“During some periods of time, my vision of structure for hair was the only kind of structure I had in my life”
Erol Karadag
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Guillaume Roemaet (personal project)

Your hair creations often play with structure and gravity. Was there a turning point in your career where you decided to allow your creativity to flow free? Starting out, I did everything from dressing to cutting to colouring. I aimed to achieve a professional level of skill at each step of the process. However, I’ve always been fascinated by the beauty of geometry and its incredible ability to make the look and bring a certain kind of individual presence. During some periods of time, my vision of structure for hair was the only kind of structure I had in my life. When my dream of joining the Vidal Sassoon team at NYC based salon came true, I delved ever so deeply into Vidal’s classic contemporary methods, which are so much about the play on structure and gravity. This is where I got to experience the highest appreciation for Vidal’s direction and adopted it as a platform for building structure with hair my way.

Ricardo Rivera – Vogue Italia – Architecture of Hair – 02_WEB
Ricardo Rivera (Vogue Italia)

Have you ever run into an unexpected problem on a job and how did you overcome it? Well, there have been instances where I had to get creative at prepping my models’ hair on the fly to work out and fit the concept, or work around certain restrictions and still get the look I was going for. Finding solutions becomes like mental acrobatics that I enjoy quite a bit actually. I get a kick out of challenging myself, but I couldn’t do it without being trusted by the team and given the freedom to experiment, while working within a frame of references. If I’m ever presented with a puzzle I can’t get on the first or second try, I’ll step back and go again. I won’t quit until I’m happy!

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Karolis Kaminskas (personal project)
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Ivan Bideac (Sassoon Inter Salon Soirée

What is a hair fantasy of yours that you have yet to realise? My fantasy is an extension of seeing the infinite number of things one can do with hair, creating beyond imagination. The fantasy is to share and present hair as an art form in ways people may not have seen or known it before. It’s definitely a pathway though, not a destination, and I’m excited to just be going with it. 

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Guillaume Roemaet (King Kong Magazine)

Could you tell us about the creation of the following two looks? This story started out with a random picture of a mannequin I was working on for a shoot with my friend, photographer Ricardo Rivera. I sent him the image and he bounced back a few ideas that I really liked. He came up with a lot of elements for this shoot based on an amazing book called ‘Banana’. Ricardo and I gathered a bunch of different fruit nets, crimped hair extensions to create hair-like texture. We then filled our fruit nets with it and whimsically dressed the nets onto our model’s hair.

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Ricardo Rivera (Vogue Italia)

I made this wig and brought it along on set. The team didn’t jump on it right away, so I was like, “Okay, I’ll just hang on to it”. I coloured it gold and we decided it was worth using for a still shot on a sculpture head. We loved how it turned out so much that we ended up using it on the model. I’ve lived my belief that everything is about team work. Working with people who are open and curious and supportive of each other’s ideas and eager to develop a concept together makes for a shared success.

Ricardo Rivera – Vogue Italia – Architecture of Hair – 01_WEB
Ricardo Rivera (Vogue Italia)
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