Using her older sister’s path into hairdressing as inspiration, 14-year-old Tina Outen saw becoming a hairdresser as a unique way to be creative, “she would come home from class and practice her craft on me. I became her real-life dolly. I had it all – from perms to sets to cap highlights that turned green, and then experimental cuts to try to get rid of it all!” Outen followed in her sister’s footsteps, “same college, same experimenting on whoever I could find to let me!”

Now working exclusively as a session stylist, Outen is in high demand. Known for her bold take on colour and sculptural, textured styles, her work can be found in publications including Hunger, i-D, Numéro and Teen Vogue, storming the catwalks for Antonio Beradi and Bora Aksu, and worn by celebrities including Lady Gaga and Grimes. INFRINGE caught up with Outen to discuss her colour-filled world.

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Image credit: Aris Akritidis (A.V Robertson AW17)
“The moment of seeing your hair on 20, 30 or 40 girls kills me. It’s the most exhilarating moment as you get to realise a concept to its utmost - on fabulous girls in fabulous clothes.”
Tina Outen
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Image credit: Aris Akritidis (A.V Robertson AW17)

What made you decide to become a session stylist?
It was something I had always longed to do. My father owned a retouching agency in London and there were always copies of Vogue lying around our house growing up. I was in awe. But when I was a young hairstylist it was a completely inaccessible industry that seemed so exclusive. When I started assisting Daniel Hersheson at London Fashion Week in 2004 I discovered that you didn’t have to be an exceptional hairstylist already and there were people learning on the job. I had been honing my skills all those years! I jumped on it – full force. I gave up my salon career and became a full-time session assistant. It got under my skin fast. I still feel the same excitement for what I do and have never regretted taking the time to learn all I did about hair.

What excites you about working on catwalk shows?
The moment of seeing your hair on 20, 30 or 40 girls kills me. It’s the most exhilarating moment as you get to realise a concept to its utmost – on fabulous girls in fabulous clothes. Combine that with all the adrenaline and the journey you share with the designers in bringing the women to life. It’s an unbeatable experience!

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Image credit: Robi Rodriguez (Purple Magazine)
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Image credit: Robi Rodriguez (Purple Magazine)

You’re known for your experimental approach to hair styling and colour. What are some of your favourite ways to manipulate hair?
I love to let hair lead the way. I work intuitively and like to be very quiet when I work. I don’t chat and I always tell my assistants that it’s because I’m listening to the hair. As a colourist I’ve watched the structure of hair break down through bleaching but thanks to all the amazing treatments out there now I’ve watched it reform itself strand by strand. So my eyes are very focused on the detail in the hair itself. I love to play with the direction hair wants to go, when it’s wet, when it’s clean, when it’s covered in product, smothered with heat, squashed, fluffed or brushed!! Capturing which part to manipulate varies for each job.

What does your own hair mean to you?
My hair was the beginning of my whole look. I had grown up as a Goth; always dying my hair burgundy or black, wearing dark clothes and punk make-up. I went totally white 7 years ago and when I stripped the dark out of my hair I underwent a ‘Star Wars-like’ transformation from the Dark Side to the Light Side. I became obsessed with being tonal. Every 4 shampoos I would religiously add the palest cold pink to my conditioner and dress only in pastel pinks, lilacs, powder blues and sometimes mint.

It was like my pink hair bled down into the rest of me and turned my whole look ‘Mermaid Unicorn’. I even dye my socks the palest lilac tinge so as to not be white against my baby pink trainers (which I customise at New Balance, complete with ‘Tina Did IT’ in Baby Blue embroidery on the back).  My apartment in New York is smothered in varying shades of Pink and Lilac and my shearling snuggle rugs and blankets are of course in blush. Most of my session kit is pink; my hairdressing gown is satin baby pink, my eye shadow is a pinky coral and my lashes are always Electric Blue. My hair has started an obsession that has overtaken my life. I have become my own colour palette of expression. Walking into my wardrobe gives me the biggest smile every day – it’s all pastel and Tie Dye, cashmere and silks. It’s an extremely happy uplifting state to be in and I thank my hair for that!

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Image credit: Liam Furneaux (Liam Hodges SS18)
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Image credit: Aris Akritidis (Sharon Wauchob AW17)
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Image credit: Aris Akritidis (Sharon Wauchob AW17)

What is your most unlikely source of inspiration?
My dog Bailey. He’s a Havanese so has hair rather than fur. His hair is unreal. I can brush it in different directions all resulting in a different sheen. Photographically hair is all about light reflection and he inspires me texturally. It helps that his hair is white with creamy bits running through it, so I have that dimension to inspire me too.

Who is your hair icon?
Guido. What an amazing world he created for all of us to aspire to be in.

How would you sum up your relationship with hair in 3 words?
Obsessive, Love, Escape.

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Image credit: Hatnim Lee (Katie Eary AW14)
Credits

Interview Alex Mascolo
Images Aris Akritidis Website arisakritidis.com
Liam Furneaux Website liamfurneaux.co.uk
Hatnim Lee Website hatn.im
Robi Rodriguez Website robirodriguez.com
Special Thanks Tina Outen @ Streeters London Website streeters.com

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