Though our regular lives have been on hiatus for the better part of two years, creativity never stops, particularly if you're legendary hairstylist Guido Palau. When the photo shoots, runway shows, editorials, and ad campaigns slowed down due to COVID, he didn't. Instead, he picked up his styling tools and his phone, and shot what would become his latest book, #HairTests.
Available now at Dover Street Market in London, New York, Tokyo, and L.A., this limited-edition book is packed with breathtaking hair inspiration shot by Palau on models using his iPhone. "Without Instagram, I wouldn't have done this book. And without the iPhone, I wouldn't have gotten this book done," Palau tells Bazaar.com. Though he doesn't consider himself a photographer, Palau has, for years, posted incredible BTS portraits on Instagram of his hair creations backstage at shows like Valentino, Fendi, Versace, and Marc Jacobs. Though some of the images in the book are from recent runway looks, most are just pure Palau play.
"It's almost like if you're an artist or you're a ceramicist, you'd go to your studio and you just doodle and play. But their work lives forever—a hairstyle lives for the time that the wearer is wearing it, and then you're just one squirt of water away from it disappearing," he says. "So capturing it on the iPhone was my way of kind of cataloguing my work."
Palau's legendary career has spanned decades not just because of his sheer talent and artistic eye, but because he's constantly mining new fountains of inspiration in the everyday world. "I think all my inspiration comes basically from keeping my eyes open and paying attention to the street. You know, I have a great head that can catalogue things," he says, mentioning the single crystal bobby pin he spotted in my hair over Zoom. "To me, I think that's one of my strengths. Everybody's hair is kind of part of that catalogue." That's why even the most simplistic Palau style—say, a sleek blunt bob or textured shag—looks like a revelation through his lens.
While flipping through this new book of creations—chunky layers, graphic ponytails, and electric hues on models of relative anonymity—Palau hopes you're struck with a sense of fantasy and escapism, even if just for a moment. "When I started hairdressing, in the salons, there'd be these headshots of different styles on models. You still see these today when you pass by salon windows, especially in small towns. This book has that kind of feeling, I suppose," he says. "But that kind of thing was ingrained into me very early on when I was a trainee—looking at all the pictures around the wall, I would sort of daydream about the people in the images. I hope that people can relate or fantasise about these people too."
Palau's book #HairTests is on sale at Dover Street Market now.
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