Big big hair
cotland has its fair share of hairdressing heavyweights, from goddess of Scottish hairstyling Rita
Rusk to Edinburgh’s Scottish hairdresser of the year George Paterson and award-winning
Glasgow hairdresser Alan Edwards.
The name Rita Rusk must be carved in every Scottish hairstylist’s bible. Renowned as the first lady of hairdressing, she has earned her place in the global hairdressers’ hall of fame and paved the way for a new generation of scissor-wielding Scots. Involved in a relentless timetable of international shows, Rusk has nevertheless kept her feet firmly on Glasgow turf where she and her sister and business colleague Roz Main continue to develop Scotland’s global reputation in hair design.
Rusk first elbowed her way onto the world hairdressing scene in 1976, when she, ex- husband Irvine Rusk and Edinburgh’s Charlie Miller and Brian Drumm led an invasion of the Salon International show in London. These were Scottish hairdressers with attitude, knocking the wind out of a self-confident, London-centric establishment.
‘They took things to the extreme so that people would sit up and listen — it put Scottish hairdressing on the map,’ says Main, describing the impact the Rusks had at that revolutionary show. ‘Scottish hairdressing has been growing and growing since then.’
Grandpappy of Scottish hairdressing, Charlie Miller remembers with relish the effect the 1976 show had. ‘We did really wonderful avant garde hair,’ he says. supping tea in a cafe near his
, t. “4;”;
Rita Rodi: queen of Scottish hairdressing 8 The List 16-29 Jun 1995
Scotland has been at the cutting edge of world hairdressing since an irreverent band of hairstylists invaded London during the 19703. Kathleen Morgan discovers those behind its razor-sharp
Edinburgh salon. ‘We were doing . things with hair that 3 made hairdressers 5‘ think: “Wow, how ' did they do that?”
That’s what I’ve continued to do ever since.’
Like Rita Rusk, Miller has chosen to remain in Scotland, despite taking part in a whirlwind of international shows. From one Edinburgh salon — soon to be two — he has put the Miller name up in lights. building a reputation that has been inherited and
developed by his sons Jason and Joshua.
Miller believes the Scottish hairdressing scene is still alive and kicking, but that the next generation of stylists must work hard to maintain the reputation Rusk and company built in the 19705. ‘People in Glasgow and Edinburgh don’t realise it, but they’ve got the best quality of hair cuts anywhere in the world,’ he says. ‘There is a new generation of innovators coming up. I’m hoping they’re going to put in as much work as we did.’
Scottish Hairdresser of the Year, Edinburgh’s George Paterson is one of the new school working to maintain Scotland’s international reputation in hairdressing. He is optimistic
‘People In Glasgow and Edinburgh don’t realise it, but they’ve got the best quality of hair cuts anywhere in the world.’
about a vibrant, creative future: ‘We’re working on making things happen up here, rather than being prepared to go down to London,’ he says. Taylor Ferguson runs one of Scotland’s most commercially successful designer hairdressers in Glasgow’s Bath Street. He sees a bright future for Scottish hairstyling only if the profession improves its standards and training opportunities. ‘There are so few people wanting to come into hairdressing now because there are so many small hairdressing businesses that are not professional,’ he says. ‘It’s so important to treat hairdressers right. There are problems like the especially long hours — it’s not attractive.’ Lee Ferguson of Glasgow’s DLC salon agrees: ‘Hairdressing colleges are really struggling to get numbers in.’ She believes the craft of hairdressing is not appreciated as much as it
Short and sweet: hair by DLC, T-shlrt by Red or Dead, trousers by Wild Side, all Glasgow
should be and as a result. the profession tends to attract those who choose it as a last resort.
In four years, DLC has built a reputation as a trendy-looking but professional salon, tucked in Mitchell Lane beside Bar 10 and incorporated into the same stark Ben Kelly design. Led by four partners — Ferguson, Susan Stirling, Derek Farquharson and John Malpass — DLC has an impressive pedigree. Ferguson is a former education director with Rita Rusk, Stirling was Rusk’s artistic director and Farquharson has built up a reputation in hairdressing education in Scoﬂand.
DLC claims there is one difference between it and its designer competitors — its street credibility and reluctance to get sucked in to the corporate hairdressing scene. ‘We get involved in show work, but we do it at street level — Glasgow School of Art, Cardonald College and others,’ says Ferguson. ‘We are all over 30 and we were involved in the 805 with avant garde stuff, but we have kept going. People don’t want to see avant garde now.’
Ferguson pays tribute to the Rusks as those who put Scottish hairdressing on the map: ‘They had the energy and drive and were close to the street — they made punk economically viable.’
Time will tell who will carry the torch lit in 1976 by Rita Rusk and that group of irreverent Scots hairdressers. Cl Scotland ’s Charlie Miller, Taylor Ferguson, George Paterson and Alan Edwards will be taking part in hair and beauty theatres with other major British hairdressers at the Clothes Show Scotland, Saturday 17—Tue 20 June. Call the Clothes Show Scotland hotline on 014] 248 9999 for details.