A Hair Raising Tale

interviews high fashion hair model Emi Dixon about crazy colour jobs and being a super-stylist’s muse

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India Block: How did you get into hair modelling?

Emi Dixon: They basically scout you in the same way that they scout fashion models. They hang out outside places like the Oxford Circus Topshop, looking for people with quite radical hair – people who look like they’d be open to experimentation. Since I’ve started modelling I’ve had more people approach me asking me to cut my hair because I obviously look open to it.

IB: What qualities does a good hair model need?

ED: Short hair is better because it grows out faster and it’s better for dyeing. You have to be very chilled; we get given seriously high fashion haircuts. They’re only really particular about you having a long neck. I’m lucky because I’ve got quite a long one, plus my hair is really short so that helps. They tell you not to be concerned about how you look – all the focus is on the hair.

IB: Do you have any choice about what gets done to your hair?

ED: You do get asked about your preferences, but they definitely don’t think about the fact you have to walk around with it after! That’s definitely one of the worse parts of the job; you get a cool haircut and the photos turn out amazingly…then you have to walk out and go to work with a blue afro!

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IB: So, what is the best part of the job?

ED: It definitely has its perks – I don’t just get free haircuts, I get paid for it. It doesn’t feel like work. You just get to sit there for hours whilst someone plays with your hair. The catering is always amazing too. It’s like being pampered for a whole day. They paint your nails and bring you food. It’s much better than being a clothes model; it’s much more personal. You’re not just a clothes rail – your hair is attached to your head so if they want to keep cutting your hair they have to be nice to you!

IB: Is it often the same person who cuts your hair, then?

ED: One of the creative directors of Vidal Sassoon, Silvia, contacted me and asked me to be her Muse. She’s one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. She can make my hair go from totally floppy to an afro in under an hour. Now she calls me up whenever she needs me. If I let someone else cut my hair she gets upset.

IB: What sort of jobs do you get booked for?

ED: It works like high fashion, but the collections involve hair instead of clothes. We do live shows six months before each season, as well as photo shoots for the website. Sometimes we have to do presentations – the only way to describe it is as a dance routine really. The models that get booked for that are quite different, they’re being booked for their bodies so they’re more serious than the ones booked for the photo shoots.

IB: What are the people who are styling your hair like?

ED: They are obsessed with hair! It takes about 20 years to get as good as the people who cut my hair, so they have to love it. They aren’t normal hairdressers – they have much more free range than anyone working in a conventional salon. It’s incredibly technical; they measure your head and skull so they can work out what styles you would suit.

IB: Is it just one person at a time working on your hair?

ED: Not necessarily. The dyeing team is completely separate. A colourist would never cut hair. They bring out separate collections of colours. But often they will work together as a duo. I was booked for an event called Salon Live where all the hair industry companies do presentations. I was a model for a colourist that time so my hair was cut the day before and then all the focus was on the colour. I had a tri-colour job that took ages but it looked amazing.

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IB: So what is your favourite type of hair modelling work?

The shoots are much more fun. We have fashion designers and makeup artists who come in to collaborate. It’s very intensely organised. The hair team confer with them, but it’s all based on the hair collection. You get to wear really exciting designer clothes and get your makeup done properly. They do your eyebrows too – no waxing them though, they love to draw them on, the bigger the better. One girl I was with at the last shoot got given pink eyebrows to match her hair. I hope she doesn’t have a job interview or anything like that soon!

IB: Finally, have you been given any really out-there cuts or colours?

ED: Two seasons ago it was on trend to have orange hair, that wasn’t good! The last three seasons I got a lot of ‘puffball’ styles. This season it’s all very avant-garde, very dark and asymmetrical, which I like a lot more. There’s a lot of focus on the crown – I currently have a purple square dyed into mine, which I really quite like.

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