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Each year, Bangstyle is thrilled to feature the finalists in each NAHA category. Keep reading to learn more about the artists whose work was selected in the Avant-Garde category for 2020!

Francesa Rivetti

Photographer: Jason Chen

Makeup Artist: Linda Charles

Francesa Rivetti's collection will stop you in your tracks. From head to toe, the wardrobe, makeup and "hair" absolutely steal the show. What we love about it is her ability to take an everyday item (mop heads) and turn them into art! Keep scrolling to see the collection and head from the artist about its creation. 


What was the inspiration behind this collection?

Anyone that knows me knows that I am very resourceful. Before I discard anything I always wonder what can be made out of this...hence the collection :-)

What did you learn about yourself through creating this collection?

I learned that anything and everything is possible. As long as you feel it and believe it and remain focused.

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge with this collection was taking apart the mops to create more length, that took ages and lots of patience and resulted in fiber everywhere. But, it had to be done to create the looks.

What other forms of art inspire you?

I find inspiration everywhere...literally. I appreciate all the arts, both traditional and modern.

How much prep time went into each piece?

I would say I spent 3 months creating this collection. The third look took the longest because brain fog crept in and I had to step away and sleep on it. Then, voila it happened literally two days before the shoot!!

What was your favorite part of this shoot?

My favorite part about the shoot was seeing my vision become reality and working with a great team!! I really felt it when the model did her thing.

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

I originally was going to work with an alternate team but my gut told me otherwise. This was my first time working with Photographer Jason Chen, MUA Linda Charles, model Terri Lisa, stylist Kylie Stetler, and have worked with them since. We have great energy and synergy and I'm so thankful we collaborated together on this!

What are you looking forward to most about NAHA 2020?!

What am I looking forward to the most...WINNING! It's been years since I've been nominated. I've been nominated twice and won Editorial in 2004. I'm looking forward to being amongst the amazing creatives in our industry and seeing some familiar faces from the past!



Photographer: Cody Rasmussen

Makeup Artist: Angelica Perri

Jamie Wiley found her inspiration from a recent trip to Iceland. We can only imagine the dramatic landscape and breathtaking surroundings that brought this gorgeous collection to life! Jamie invested hours upon hours into creating these intricate masterpieces and it truly shows. Keep scrolling to see her nominated collection and hear more about her process!


What was the inspiration behind this collection?
My inspiration came from a trip to ICELAND I took with my husband at the beginning of this year. It was life-changing, the cold tundra, ice, snow, and landscape inspired me. Upon returning I went into research and development and came across the Winter Goddess of the North Skadi and used her as my Muse. Channeling her fierceness for the driving heartbeat of this collection; along with the cold winter tundra of ICELAND.

What did you learn about yourself through creating this collection?
I learned to let go, to lean all in to my inner creative voice. I learned that this is my absolute favorite thing to do, finding beauty on this earth and translating it to hair. Creating, captivating, and inspired by the beauty we see all around us.   

What was your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was traveling with the head pieces from my home to the shoot. I took the train from Baltimore to NYC and honestly had a difficult time transporting the pieces. One of the headpieces was ruined and I had to remake months of work in 3 days before the shoot which was extremely stressful. I didn’t get much sleep the 72 hours beforehand; but made it all happen and it was incredible on the day! 

What other forms of art inspire you?

I’ve always loved fashion and find it awe-inspiring the way designers manipulate and construct clothing. Specifically, Zac Posen, he has such a poetic expression of his art form and I relate that back to hair.

How much prep time went into each piece?
The teardrop piece took 50 hours alone to create. 5 hours per tear drop. The Multi-level piece was the one I had to remake so that one took me 72 hours. And the feathered piece took me 15 hours to create.

What was your favorite part of this shoot?
The team's love, commitment and drive to get the shot is my favorite part of the shoot. It makes me so happy that they are in it just as much as me. Seeing it all come together plus the wardrobe was incredible as well! Monique Lhuillier, Balmain, Dion Lee, David Koma, and Cushnie Et Ochs!

How did you select your team? Have you worked with them before?
I had worked with everyone prior. Most of the models I had met through my travels on the road or on shoots. The photographer Cody Rasmussen I had met from a shoot in NYC and makeup artist Angelica Perri from show season with Pureology. So, we all had a working relationship before so it made it really easy to come together.

What are you looking forward to most about NAHA 2020?!
I am looking forward to meeting so many of the artists whose work I have admired. I am also looking forward to the energy in the room. Taking in every single thing because I have manifested this moment for myself for the past 10 years. I am extremely excited and grateful for this honor.


Photographer: Damien Carney

Makeup Artist: Joanne Gair

There is no doubt about it, Damien Carney's work catches your eye from the second you see it. His attention to detail and the ability to create an overarching thread ties his collection together and inspires the audience. While an Avant-Garde collection, his work has a high fashion editorial appeal to it that can be attributed to the preparation and overall style he embraces. Keep reading to learn more about his collection, what went into it and how he works with his team to create a stunning finish.



What was the inspiration behind this collection?

I was inspired by make-up artist Joanne Gair. Joanne is one of the world’s greatest make-up artists. You can check out her IG to see exactly how I was inspired – @joannegair. There is nothing she hasn’t done – from Vogue to Madonna, Gaga, an array of endless celebrities, iconic images, and global campaigns across the world. Many creative artists refer to Joanne's iconic images as inspiration, as do I. It rings especially true for this shoot.

I was absolutely thrilled that she worked with me on my Avant-Garde entry.  The brief or my direction for the shoot was to go over the top with make-up – complementing black structured, textured hair, simple, understated clothes, and pale, pale, skin. It was shot super bright and super sharp to show all the details in every way. Each image has a different, unique look. However, each look is linked by a creative thread as an entire collection.  Joanne used the model’s face to paint a pale canvas, then attached feathers,  tiny reflective squared mirrors and painted black curved lines. The impact is very strong and eye-catching.

As for the inspiration for the hair – I wanted to do my thing and let my creativity be free and fluid. I wanted dark hair, black, as a contrast to the make-up and wardrobe. I decided to use all synthetic hair for the shoot because using real hair would be way too costly because I needed so much hair to build each headpiece. I wanted all three hair shapes to be different and one-of-a-kind. Each one was created to have a personality and vision on its own.   

One look is pleated, high and pointy. One has multiple spikes and pointy, jagged edges. One has tight waves, frizz, and movement. They are all contradicting shapes and textures in one collection. In addition to the NAHA entries, I shot full-length fashion. Thus, giving the shoot more of an editorial vibe and also to maximize the usage of the shoot.  I always want to get as many looks as possible with a shoot. I often shoot more fashion; I always like to see hair and fashion as a whole image. It tells more of a story.  

What did you learn about yourself through creating this collection?

That I’m always learning, no matter how many shoots I’ve done. No matter how much experience I think I have. That is part of the excitement and part of the journey.  Things don’t always turn out the way you want them too. That can be a good thing or bad. I find it all exciting and thrilling at the same time.  I’ve learned to really discover who I am. I ask myself: what do I want to express? What do I want my work to say?

I want my work to be mine and not be too influenced by other hair artists or obvious inspiration references. The thrill of the now and even uncertainty triggers my creativity.  Self-discovery is very exciting; I think we can often create things or do things based on someone’s approval. Sometimes you’ve just got to fly on your own and enjoy the experience.  Don’t get me wrong; I do keep an eye out to see what else is going on in the industry. For example, knowing what’s current or what your competition is doing. But, I want my ideas to come to life.  I believe we all have ideas, concepts, thoughts, and creative notions. There is creativity in everyone, it just needs to be exposed and nurtured. 

How do we control creativity and what are we going to do with it all? That’s all up to the individual. We have to be careful of  “creative chaos”  to success. There can be so many ideas, concepts and thoughts yet there is nothing solid to get the concept off the ground.  As my career has matured, I find it easier and more practical to work with a really small, tight, group of talent that will help me bring my shoots to life. With the right team, great things can and will happen.  “You can bounce ideas.  What if…. how about that…. Does that really work? Does it look dated? Am I on the right track?”  Joanne and the wardrobe stylist helped me pull all the elements together to create a successful shoot. I value their point of view and I value how they see beauty. And that is part of the great positive energy that creates stunning imagery.  

I now shoot all my own hair work, collections. I’m the photographer as well as the hairstylist. It’s great because I can clearly see how it’s all going to work or sometimes how it’s not working! I will do a lighting test with the wigs/headpieces so I can see how it’s all coming along.  That’s the advantage of shooting my own work. I have more of an investment mentally and physically in the shoot. Most of the hair work or preparation is done before I go into the studio. All I have to do is place the wigs on the model and make some minor adjustments.  It takes the pressure off of doing hair the day off because it’s all prepped beforehand. That way, I can clearly focus on shooting the model, communicating with the team and focusing on creating the final looks. 

What was your biggest challenge?

I rarely have any challenges.  I’m not perfect in any way, lol, but I do believe there are ways of working around so-called challenges. One has to stop, look, listen, breathe and learn how to find a solution to the challenge. There’s always a solution to any challenge. The only challenge I really have is lack of time. The looks I created are time-consuming; I have to plan out time carefully so I can do a shoot.  I’m all or nothing I’m on the project – 100% in or I don’t shoot. With a really great team, honesty, constructive points of view and contribution of an amazing team, there are rarely challenges. However, if something is not working for whatever reason that can be a challenge in itself. I’ll try and find a solution. If I can, if not, I will move on in a slightly different direction and if that feels the right thing to do, then that’s the way to go. At a photo shoot, you have to surrender when something is not working. The more you try and make it work sometimes it can become wasted energy. The experience will tell me to move on. If it’s not working, move on to something that does. Shoots are about energy, creativity, and spontaneity, so you’ve just got to trust your gut. 

What other forms of art inspire you?

I really don’t have one form or source of inspiration.  Fashion, photography, hair history, films, and makeup are great ways of getting ideas or getting the ball rolling with a concept. Inspiration is not a switch for me, I can’t just turn it on and turn it off. I have to be in a certain state of mind. It often comes when I’m relaxed and my mind is not preoccupied with other day-to-day things. Inspiration should be fluid and free, if it’s forced, or too calculated, it often shows in my work. When I look at the images or hair it lacks something it means my inspiration was off on that day.  

To me it’s not where we look for inspiration; it’s how we look at inspiration. Don’t look at the obvious, look around, look through, look inside, look outside, and turn your inspiration into something new and fresh. I have a book of ideas for shoots. Things I would like to do when I’m free. It’s a mixture of images, words, and notes. It helps reinvigorate my ideas and inspiration. I’ll look at my inspiration book some days and see nothing and then I’ll look again on another day and see loads of ideas. It is just the way it works for me.  

For this shoot, the biggest inspiration was the team I was working with. I didn’t want to restrict or impose solid ideas, I wanted it to be free-flowing.  I let the makeup, the wardrobe and the model, do their thing. But that’s also because I trust and respect the team I work with; we have built strong respectful relationships.  One thing for sure is choosing the right model. It is vital to bringing the vision to life. The wrong model can be disastrous. We forget that the model brings the team’s vision to life and they have to be on the same bus with us.  I’m fortunate that I work with the same team on most of my shoots. This benefits us, as were more open with each other. And, most important, we are “honest” with each other as to what works and what doesn’t – respectful, but honest. Most of the great things happen when there is freedom at a shoot. There are no boundaries, no fears, everyone is adding their talent and we're all heading down the same highway, simply striving to create fabulous images.   

How much prep time went into each piece?  

It’s a unique process for sure. Each wig or headpiece is uniquely different and often has a different process of how to create the look. Which impacts the preparation time. There is no set rule and no set time. I rarely finish one piece in a one-day prep session. One piece could take a week; one could take 1- 2 days. I start making the bits and pieces, the components, which will make the structure of the hairpiece. It’s prepping that is more time-consuming. Like adding hair spray to stiffen the synthetic hair, which has to dry. Or gluing the pieces together, there could be a lot of little pieces or a few big ones. Some wigs are easier while some are more intricate.

Once I have some of the basic prep work done. I take a wig block and start by pining the pieces together to build a base foundation – the birth or start of the idea.  Then, I build and add from there. I’m building a structure bit by bit. Adding, subtracting, arranging, and rearranging!  I only T pin the pieces on a wig block altogether to see how it looks, get my creative juices going, get the balance right, the right vibe and feel. I don’t glue anything until the last step, once I’m happy with the arrangement, then I’ll glue the bit and pieces into place. That gives me the flexibility to make any changes.

On some pieces, I’ll often work a couple of hours on it, leave the wig for a day or two and pick up where I left off until completed.  I’ll often look at the piece the next day and hate it, lol! Yes, really, sometimes I’ll start all over again or I’ll do some rethinking or reposition or rearranging the piece, until it has the right vibe, feel or spirit of what I set out to do. It’s about playing, organically, until I feel I get it right.

It’s important to stop and break from one's work to look at your work from a wider angle. *Tip – I always shoot the pieces I make at different stages, e.g. Beginning, middle and end.  I’ll shoot the wig or headpiece at different angles. That way I can really see how it’s looking and how my final concept will come to play. There are times where I’ve created a wig piece and got to the studio, tried it on the model and it doesn’t work for me. It’s just not there or I’ve completely gone off the idea.  My rule of thumb, if I need 3 wigs for a shoot to make a collection.  I’ll make 5-6 wigs, shoot them all and then choose the 3 strongest, the ones that really stand out when I’m editing.  Always, always have a backup plan. And have a plan of action if a look is not going the way you want. Don’t get caught off guard. Always have a plan a,b, c and more when it’s needed. It takes a lot of unnecessary pressure off during the shooting time. 

What was your favorite part of this shoot?

Is seeing how the team, and the wigs, and the headpieces came to life. Looking at the computer screen and just thinking: “wow, got it! that’s the hero shot,” when all the elements are working together. I never, ever get stressed at a shoot, or at least I never ever show it. It will set the wrong tone. When I’m shooting the vibe is, I’m hanging with my amazingly talented friends, the team, creating great images.  

What I’ve learned most about shooting my own collections and acting as a hairdresser and photographer. If you don’t have the right model/s then it won’t work. It can easily fall apart. Model choice is often overlooked. To me, the model is the most important person at a shoot. As the model has to bring our crazy ideas to life and they have to understand the complete vision. I’ve worked with my model for NAHA many times, she gets where I’m coming from. She understands how to digest the concept and bring it all to life.  My favorite part of all the hard work, endless prep, calls, meetings, etc. is when it all comes together, it makes it all worthwhile. Captured forever.     

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

I’ve worked with my team for some time now – about 5 years or so. I have about 3 makeup artists and 3 wardrobe stylists that I work with all the time on different shoots and projects. We have a real connection. We bond and bounce ideas together freely.  The team contributes to the shoot in so many ways.  I’m lucky, all the creative team of artists has lots of experience in the editorial world. They are “real” editorial make-up artists and  “real” fashion wardrobe stylists living in NYC. They are at the top of their game, they have great contacts, great ideas. They come to the shoot with energy, excitement and an open mind.  I’m very fortunate to work with artists of this caliber. Without them, I have nothing exciting or inspiring to shoot.    

What I love about the team is that they don’t bring “obvious” bland concepts, that you’ve seen or regurgitated many times, flogging the dead horse. The team will push me and pull me until we get fabulous images. It’s taken me some time to get the quality of the team of makeup artists and wardrobe stylists that I’m working with now.  I had to gain their respect. I’ve had to prove to them and myself that I could deliver great hair and imagery.   

My personal growth is because of my team. When you have a great team. You attract better models that want to work with you. When I first started shooting my own work, no one would work with me. I wasn’t ready. I needed to prove my worth and up my game. Today, it’s a bit easier. As I’ve grown, the quality of my work has improved and with that, new doors have opened.  It’s a whole new level. NYC modeling agencies will work with me and therefore the quality of the team is improved dramatically. Add that all up and you simply get better concepts. Better images that hopefully stand out from the crowd. I’m still learning but I love the challenge of the unknown.      

Is this your first-time entering Avant-Garde?

No, it’s not.  I entered before and made the finalist. Which was great. And in no way was I disappointed in not winning. I love to challenge myself and NAHA allows that. Yes, it would be great to win I cannot deny that, but it’s the process of doing a shoot, the journey, the ups and downs, the learning curves, etc. That’s what really excites me.  It’s hard to sometimes know or feel what direction to go in.  Should I do this, should I do that?

I have so many ideas. It’s called creative chaos, with so many ideas, how do you choose the one concept to run with? I just trust my instinct. I go with what I like, I don’t mean that in a selfish, bigheaded manner. I’m doing my shoots for my creative outlet. If others like it, great, that’s a bonus. It should be fun and a great experience. That’s what works for me.

I work in a salon like most hairdressers, shooting collections, especially for NAHA. It gives me a whole new point of view for hair. There are fewer rules. You can allow your inner creativity and expression to come to life. Even the craziest ideas of hair can be converted into something wearable; you’ve just got to keep an open mind. I find my photoshoot work has strengthened my salon work to a whole new level. I’m more sensitive to face shape and suitability when it comes to creating for my clients.  

What are you looking forward to most about NAHA 2020?! Seeing all my friends and meeting new ones. I have a lot of friends that are finalists; most I’ve worked with throughout my career. It will be great to see all of the talented artists in one venue. I like one big gathering of my favorite hairdressers. NAHA is an amazing competition that has a wide range of categories, giving most hairdressers an outlet to enter. It’s a fantastic way of expressing one's technical and creative talents. The buzz and energy are addictive. A hair photo or hair collection can open so many doors.

With the click of a mouse or tap of your finger, your images can go global.  It is great for branding oneself, great for team development, great for keeping your work current and fresh and great for sharing with your clients. Your clients love to hear about what you’re up to with hair outside of the salon. It shows you’re passionate, you care and you love your craft.  If you haven’t entered yet or are thinking about it don’t hold back! Be part of the NAHA competition, you’ll never look back.


Hair/Photography: Damien Carney @damiencarneypro 

Please, visit www.damiencarney.com to see all of his photographic work.

Makeup: Joanne Gair @joannegair 

Wardrobe/Styling: Nikko Kefalas @nikkokefalas 

Please, visit www.nikkokefalas.com to see more styling work.