Beauty & Fashion >> Latest Fashion Happenings >> Dare To Experiment

By Sanyukta

A company dedicated to salon professionals is offering hairstylists in India's cosmopolitan cities a chance to upgrade their skills. Blackberry Worldwide, which has a presence in London, Paris, Dubai and Kenya, opened shop in India with 'Hairscapes 2002'. At this workshop in Mumbai, participants were informed of hair-cutting techniques and styles best suited to the subcontinent. Other cities like Pune and Bangalore are on the schedule, as are other subjects like skin care, makeovers and rejuvenation skills.

Around 500 professionals paid Rs 1,500 each to participate in Hairscapes 2002. Blackberry selected Perri Patel, a leading hairdresser formerly from London to conduct the session. Mr Patel has been in the business of styling for the last 16 years. "I was affiliated to HQ Hairdressing in London, where I was learning and teaching simultaneously. But I have now moved to Mumbai for good." He trained under a famous stylist, Salma Palmer of the Kenya School Of Hairdressing, in Africa.

"Hairdressers really need to upgrade their skills at designing for different textures, lengths and structures. Over 500 people came for the workshop, and I told them how to style for youthful executives, older professionals, smart, hip children as well as outgoing youngsters who want to experiment. Considering that each hairdresser attends to a couple of clients a day, it would be wonderful if they pass on these classy techniques and styles to these customers. These would, in turn, spread the word."

That hope was for the professionals. Where clients go, Mr Patel wishes they were more adventurous! "A lot of people are confused about their hair. They'd like a change in look, only they aren't sure whether they should go about it or not!" Mr Patel says with a smile. "That's like wanting to drive a car without the steering wheel!" At the other end of the spectrum, he has seen villagers in his native Gujarat go up to the local barber and ask for complete makeovers along the lines of what they see on satellite television!

Mr Patel has worked his way up the ladder. Indeed, since he moved to Mumbai he has found a foothold in the Hindi film industry, which is the ultimate aim always. His famous clients range right from Amitabh Bachchan to newcomer Zaid Khan, Sanjay Khan's son. In between come Akshay Kumar, Aftab Shivdasani, Amisha Patel and Rajlakshmi Roy. "Actually, any new look that you see on most film stars these days, Esha Deol being the latest, would in all likelihood be mine!" he claims.

He still makes time to train other professionals, though. "We are proud to have him because we are introducing pure salon education for the first time in India," says Ms Rimpy, who is part owner of Blackberry. Surely that is a tall claim, given that various people and institutions have been doing that for many years now. In fact, Blossom Kochhar opened the Mumbai wing of her training institute, Pivot Point, just a couple of weeks ago. "Well, a lot of people hold workshops and seminars on beauty training, but they are all brand-related endorsements. L'Oreal, Godrej and Wella conduct training programmes where they indirectly sell you their products. Even Blossom Kochhar owns a brand of beauty products," Ms Rimpy says. "I believe you restrict the scope of such training when you confine it within the parameters of a brand." It is early days yet, but Ms Rimpy vouches that Blackberry will not promote itself through "gimmickry like fashion shows or catwalks".

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