Michael Piastrino and Adrian Rotolo of Ibiza Hair in Melbourne, Australia are a young and dynamic team. They have kicked up quite a storm down under by winning prestigious industry-organised awards. In conversation with Salon India, they share their independent beginnings and the coming together at Ibiza Hair
How did you decide to be a part of the hair business?
MP: My mother is a hairdresser and while growing up, I spent a lot of time in the salon. I loved seeing what she created as an artist. So, very early in life I knew I wanted to become a hairdresser.
AR: When I was growing up, I was learning to be a dancer. I attended an arts-focused high school in Adelaide, South Australia. I tried out some visual arts and found I was interested in painting and colour. Post the course, I joined Yellow Strawberry, a family friend owned a salon, which specialised in French Balayage techniques at a time when Balayage had been forgotten. I quickly developed a talent for the technique and mastered it.
Who was your inspiration?
MP: Without a doubt my mother! She spent time teaching me how to ‘dress hair’, the real basics and then, allowed me to use my creativity to push what she had taught.
AR: The family friend in Adelaide, who took a chance on me, indulging my fascination with painting and colour, but through the medium of hair.
What is your professional education?
AR: I trained with L’Oréal Professionnel, completing every colour course I possibly could, whilst learning from the best. Throughout my apprenticeship, I followed the work of celebrity colourist Johnny Ramirez, Owner of Ramirez Tran Salon in Los Angeles. I visited the salon in 2010 and admired his ‘lived in’ approach to colour using old fashioned Balayage techniques combined with modern era foiling. So, I adopted this approach too, and eventually discovered, by mistake, a technique I call ‘Brushlighting’. Brushlighting combines fine woven face framing highlights with Balayage, wherein instead of using a traditional board and tint brush, I use a Tangle Teezer brush to create the soft sun-kissed glow seen on celebrities, such as Giselle.
Who is your mentor?
MP: I do not have a mentor, but I am inspired by people I consider to be visionaries, such as, my mother, who has been a hairdresser for 30 years, Joe Giampa, Emiliano Vitale, Caterina Di Biase, Matt Clements, the Mascolos, Errol Douglas, and the list goes on!
AR: My main mentor would have to be my first employer, Anthony Gosti. He had an incredible eye for detail and produced flawless colour work. Throughout his training, he would send in mystery clients to have their colour done and then would have them give me feedback once they revealed themselves to be clients sent in by Gosti himself. His motto was ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’. It has helped me create a solid, loyal client base.
What is your forte as a hairdresser?
MP: Cutting, colouring and hair extensions.
AR: Creative colourist; creating hair colour that has a commercial wearability.
How do you inspire your team to create hair looks for a collection?
MP: We are always up-to-date on trends, then we give it a twist and create our own version of it.
AR: Preparing for collections is a lot of work behind the scenes. Firstly, we research and take note on what others (photographers, hairdressers and stylists) are doing, particularly overseas. We often save several photographs and take bits and pieces of what I like most about each shot and see if there is a common theme, which usually there is. This forms the very base for the collection. I then choose my colour palette. This is the most enjoyable part. I often have many more colours chosen than what you see in my collections. Once colour is chosen, we then cast models and the hairstyle or cut is chosen last. We choose a style based on each individual model’s facial features. This is the most important part of the process, as style enhances colour and vice versa. Usually Michael and I do a process of elimination.
How does it all come together?
MP: Adrian and I are like brothers; we have been brought up with similar values and taught old school hairdressing. For us, much of the technical side is from the heart and mind. Believe it or not, we do very little preparation prior to the shoot, and on the day we slice and dice the model’s hair. Of course, colour is done prior to the shoot day, but the styling or cutting is all done on the day. Just like an artist would do.
What are the trends in haircuts and colour this season?
MP: We are seeing a return to more natural hairstyling; strong styles or cuts, yet with subtle movement and softness. A more natural approach lends itself to a commercial wearability and editorial feel.
AR: At Ibiza Hair, we see hair colours across the spectrum, but in subtle muted tones that suit the individuality of each client, and also techniques that complement the haircut. Our latest collection, Redenzione, is an example of what we are creating for clients, but obviously adapted for the salon client.
What are the must-have qualities in a hairstylist?
MP: Hard working, honest, a passion for hair and a willingness to keep learning and educating themselves. Learn as much as you can from your mentors and other key influencers in the industry. You can never say you know everything, so, continual education is so very important.
AR: Do not get complacent. A willingness to learn new techniques and be open to learning about the business you work in and how it runs. Aim to be a leader in your team. The ability to network with other hairdressers in the industry. Being able to give and receive constructive criticism. Be humble, but confident at the same time.
What is a day like in the lives of Michael and Adrian?
Every morning after our staff meeting, we ask the most important question – what does everyone want for lunch? Generally it is pizza! During the day and till closing time, we create amazing work and have such a great time doing it. We are truly blessed with a beautiful team, who work hard. We could not do what we do without them. Thank you to Marie, Caitlyn, Keegan, Ashan and Latoya.
Do you plan to open your academy?
MP: We are currently renovating the salon, so, there are no plans to open an academy. Both, Adrian and I, are passionate about education and want to continue to be award-winning hairdressers and colourists because it is an affirmation of our work. We also want Ibiza Hair to continue to succeed.
What are your views on the Indian hairdressing industry?
MP: Like every hairdressing industry, we believe the Indian hairdressing industry is continuing to evolve and produce work that is recognisable on a global scale. Each country has its own aesthetic because the people and climate are different. There is a different feel to techniques, cutting, styling and colouring. Like many countries, India is no doubt looking at creating its own aesthetic and being recognised for it around the world. It is an exciting time to see what will be coming next!
What are you planning next?
MP: Adrian and I recently spent time in Asia, educating on behalf of Ahead Media, which was an incredible experience. Sharing our expertise and encouraging education is our passion. We are available for education around the world – find out what we offer, fly us there and we will educate!