Couture vs Session vs Salon work - What's the Difference?

Published 24th Jan 2024 by Josie Jackson

With Fashion Week season kicking off in New York on 9 February and the Couture Fashion Shows currently taking place in Paris, it’s the perfect time to research new trends and styles to offer your clients. Jack Merrick Thirlway from Neville Hair & Beauty, London for L’Oreal Professionnel, is a regular backstage at London Fashion Week, as well as Couture Fashion Week in Paris. As a stylist who juggles his time between working at Couture Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, on shoots and in the Knightsbridge salon with clients, Jack talks about the differences between couture, session and salon hair.

How would you describe the hair at Couture Fashion Week?

Couture hair has to be perfectly executed; the precision of each look has to be dressed to look expensive, with high shine and gloss. Couture hair should be worn with confidence, elegance, and should be worthy to be worn with the stunning couture collections. 

How does this differ to editorial hair and hair that you create for clients in the salon? 

Editorial hair differs by texture and movement; hair worn on the catwalk moves differently and must capture the eye in a unique way. Meanwhile, when hair is being captured on camera, we can showcase fluffier textures, or even flyaways, as these often look beautiful under the flash. Some of the most stunning editorial pictures can be from the simplest of ideas, but when seen on print look incredibly genius. 

How do you make couture hair wearable and client-friendly?

Couture styles can be worn by everybody, as long as it’s worn with confidence that elevates the look. Couture hairstyles are elegant and can be easily manipulated into salon-friendly looks with few changes. Balancing volume is key when recreating couture looks in the salon – slightly less volume will be more wearable day-to-day, and if less setting spray is used the hair will be more free to move naturally, giving the look a softer edge.

Whether it be runway, editorial or salon styling, setting and prepping the hair is the absolute key to a great outcome. If the pre-work has not been executed perfectly, achieving the final look will be very difficult.

Jack’s top tips for creating couture hair...

1. Learn how each product works and use them in many different scenarios and hair textures to be confident in how to use them backstage.
2. Have every tool in your kit; your work becomes easier when you have the correct tools. 
3. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Pushing boundaries is the best way to grow.
4 Always add more texture or movement than you need when setting; it is easy to reduce but impossible to add. 
5. Practice, practice, practice.

Josie Jackson

Josie Jackson

Published 24th Jan 2024

Josie supports the team with content for the print magazine, website and social media channels at HJ. Having grown up in a salon environment (thanks to her hairdresser mum) and even working as a Saturday girl before getting her degree in English Literature, Josie feels right at home in the industry. Although she’s experimented with a few creative colour looks in the past, she always comes back to blonde, and loves all things hydrating and bond building.

Have all the latest news delivered to your inbox

You must be a member to save and like images from the gallery.