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Not one, but two standing ovations. That was how Keith Harris was revered by generations of hairdressers and industry figures at his recent No Limits presentation in London. No Limits is a very personal look at the history of hair, a history of which Harris, points out, he has been a part for some 40 years.

Humbly, Harris was astonished at the positive reaction, and in his spiky South London manner described the evening as: “Justifying all the crap”. (Harris has been ‘off work’ for eight years following throat cancer, a shocking period that saw him in a coma for 10 months and resulted in several operations and still, on-going treatment.) It was also the first time in 16 years he had been on stage in the UK, but clearly the young hairdressers in the audience hadn’t got his message that they ‘might not know who Keith Harris is’, as they were as enthusiastic in their applause as Harris’s old-school colleagues from Vidal Sassoon and the gathering of fashion photographers, makeup artists and model agents with whom he’s worked over the years.

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Even though nine years had passed since his last presentation, Harris still managed to talk for over two hours covering an illustrated version of the history of hair with imagery he loves, including Hollywood icons, many of whom he knows personally, and hairdressers who’ve inspired him throughout his career, often dropping in anecdotes such as meeting the likes of Giorgio Armani whilst at Sunday lunch at Aldo Coppola’s house and not realising who he was. At the end of the presentation Harris invited the audience to de-camp to a nearby bar to ‘join him for a drink’ and was astounded when over 80 people turned up. “It was terrific,” he murmurs in wonder. ”Like a wedding reception!”

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He’s also recently finished: ‘A new set of pictures’, his first in six years. “Not a collection please! Collections are what Armani and Prada do. Hairdressers do a set of pictures.” His agent in the USA put Harris in touch with a young Russian photographer who he’d recently signed, who by pure chance had come across Harris’s Instagram account, and said she’d like to meet hairdressers who could ‘do that kind of work’. An exciting collaboration began between the pair, together with Harris’s filmmaker son, Ryan, shooting in Moscow.

Originally they were going to work on one idea, based on ‘classic hairdressing’, but in the end they worked for 10 days and shot seven stories. “The great thing about Moscow is that it’s full of talented, wonderful hairdressers and makeup artists, with incredible energy. I was working with a group of young people, all in their 20s and I was reborn! My Moscow squad has hit new ground. I can’t be 23 again, but I can be a purist and my sons really keep me in the moment. They’ve become my teacher.”

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What’s next? “I want to do more of the same, but I’d like to shoot in LA next time. I am genuinely enthusiastic and excited for the future. I feel I’m on the right track. I was ‘off the pitch’ with an injury for a long time, but now I’m back. I am genuinely excited.” Where does his newly-found creativity come from? “I stared at a blank white wall for a very long time and now I want to do stuff! I feel I am observing things in a clearer way, seeing colours more vividly, experiencing shapes in architecture more strongly. It’s inspiring.”

Credits

Photography Daria Belikova
Hair Keith Harris
Makeup Margo Mayor, Rita Simone
Styling Ekaterina Belaya
Photography Assistant Stanislav Kopanev
Hair Assistant Marina Vaskina
Interview Linda Evans

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