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This year, Matrix/Biolage artists were nominated in a record number of 14 nominations in 9 categories at the 2019 NAHA Awards. The awards were hosted this past Saturday, January 26th at the Performing Arts Center in Long Beach — 5 Matrix/Biolage artists took home the honors in 4 categories. Long Beach will be the new home of the NAHA’s and it proved to be a welcomed change of venue.  It was a beautiful night in California, welcoming all of the artists with that beautiful Southern California weather that they are best known for. With an eventful Red Carpet, exhilarating performances, and a larger than life afterparty, the night was a true celebration for the artists!

Please join us in congratulating all of the artists and the following winners!

Chrystofer Benson — Haircolor

Matrix Artistic Director 


Michelle O’Connor — Avant-Garde, Texture

Matrix Artistic Director and The Salon by Instyle JCPenney Creative Director 


Dilek Onur-Taylor — Editorial

Matrix Artistic Director and The Salon by Instyle JCPenney Creative Director 

Nick Stenson and Danielle Keasling — Team – Ulta Beauty Pro Team

Matrix Artistic Director and Celebrity Stylist and Ulta Beauty Vice President of Salon Services and Trend Danielle Keasling, Matrix Artistic Director

To see just how Chrystofer Benson and Michelle OConnor ended up on stage, keep reading to learn about their collections, their process and the inspiration behind their work!

Time and time again, Matrix Artistic Director Michelle O'Connor sparks inspiration with her work. The fluid movements of her silhouettes, the detail in texture and the overall vibe you get from her creations speaks straight to the heart of fellow artists. When you look at her creations you almost can't believe they are real and you just want to reach out and touch them! This year, she is a finalist nominated in 4 distinct categories for the 2019 NAHA awards in Long Beach: Avant-Garde, Editorial, Texture, and Team - a collection she created with Matrix Artistic Director Dilek Onur Taylor. Keep reading to get to know more about Michelle as an artist and see the truly inspirational works of art she has created!  

The Inspiration:

I have always been a lover of classic hairdressing, so for my Avant Garde collection, I wanted to use the element of netting, in this case, colored netting, to create shapes we see as modern to create a mix of old and new.

For the Texture collection, I really had no boxes or limits to the way I approached the hair. I wanted to add a beautiful appeal to texture by incorporating bright colors and explore what hair does when you let it live in its natural form vs. what happens when you bend and mold it into various positions.

For the editorial, well that was about being inspired by what I consider strong hair. I wanted the hair to reflect strength so the collection had a tribal feel. However, there is an element of softness incorporated as well, which created a dichotomy of a strong but soft effect. It’s how I feel women show up in the world.

Team... oh Team! It’s no secret that Dilek Onur Taylor and I are colleagues as well as good friends. We have always had mutual respect for each other’s works and while we possess different styles, we also share a love of opulence, fashion, beauty, and unapologetically feminine mediums. We love being women. We own that. We don’t make apologies for wanting to wear pink if you will. We knew we wanted to create a collection that reflected all of that and then some. Strong fashion and beautiful hair that paid tribute to the 60s & 70s paired with exquisite makeup was our goal. We have a running joke between us that, “If the hair doesn’t look expensive ...we didn’t do it!”


On being nominated in 4 categories:

It feels a lot like when you’re having the best dream, but then suddenly get that urge to go to the bathroom. You don’t want to wake up. Lol.... jokes aside, I’m thrilled. It’s safe to say that I think I’ve made a mark as an elite artist not only as a woman but a woman of color. 

Favorite Collection?

I’m not going to say I have a favorite, but I will say the collection I got the most satisfaction from creating is the Team collection with Dilek Onur Taylor.


What did you learn ?

I learned that I’m really good under pressure. It’s not easy to come up with creative collections back-to-back. It’s like when a writer produces a number one best seller and is told immediately after “I need you to start writing the next novel”. The turn around time for producing another collection was very short this year. I contemplated not entering because coming off of a win in 2018; I felt I was without fresh ideas. I have a huge problem putting out works that I’m personally not proud of. I pushed through and the ideas started flowing.... thank God. 


My biggest challenge was like I said earlier, not having an inspirational idea, let alone multiple. 

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by the art forms, of dance, fashion, millinery, landscapes, and beautiful architecture. 



How much prep time went into each piece?

I would have to say that each collection is an investment of a few months each. 

What was your favorite part of this shoot? 

My favorite part was seeing the final shot of each look. It’s in that moment that I know if magic has been created or not. 

It is an innate feeling. I ask myself “am I feeling something when I look at this?” In the dance world that’s how you know a piece works or is something special, with the difference being, “did you make your audience feel something with your movement?” There are indeed parallels.

How did you select your team? Have you worked with them before?

Yes, my team is the same team I started with 5 years ago. I found a system that works, and it works really well for me.... so why mess with perfection?


Chrsytofer Benson is no stranger when it comes to NAHA nominations. He has received countless accolades over the years and this year is no different! With FIVE nominations spanning Master Hairstylist, Haircutting, Haircolor, Editorial and Team, his work continues to shine. Take a peek below to see his breadth of work and his inspiration this year!

How has your artistry changed over the years?

I think my work keeps developing as I learn new things – I still have a signature style in what I do but it has evolved as well.

What was the inspiration behind each collection?

Editorial was a strong collection called DRAGON and it is of Asian inspiration. Hair color and cutting was a bit of texture graffiti abstract art in its inspiration. Masters was all about METALS. And, Team was about playing to each member strengths to showcase our best! Dark bold clothing strong color and cuts with lots of diverse styling.


How does it feel to be nominated in 5 categories?!

It is a bit surreal, to be honest, you plan and prep so hard and when the day finally comes it is great – but getting to the finals is only one step in the process, there is still everything that follows that initial landmark.

Did you have a favorite shoot or collection?

No, I love all of them for different reasons. The cut and color because of the balance in shape and tone. The masters because I really pushed myself to go other places. The editorial was just art for me to create, BUT THE TEAM for me this was really, really special because of who I did it with — GRETA COSTON – LENNY STRAND & CORY HOFFMAN!



Getting everyone in the same place at the same time to put the collections together was a challenge at times because my team was coming from all over the globe. In the end, it's always about the TEAM! It is a TEAM that really helps bring everything together!

How much prep time went into each piece?

It just depends on the piece but it can be months in the planning and hours to execute but the prep and planning are where the work is. You must prepare to make sure the shoot day is all about creation and not trying to figure it all out on set. 





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