Hair is like fabric,” states Shammal Qureshi, Director of the Toni & Guy salon in Lahore whose vision and understanding of hair is akin to a fashion designer’s interpretation of bare cloth.
“These days we are attempting to do drip dying as is done in textile design,” states Qureshi, stressing on the indelible link that Toni & Guy International has with fashion.
The hair care brand sponsors London Fashion Week, and although the local franchise had not attempted to jump on the fashion week bandwagon till last year’s PFDC L’Oreal Paris Bridal Week, Qureshi has done very interesting shoots, that look like the fashion savvy editorials in fashion glossies, with local icons and celebrities. “Our direction for the future is to be fashion focussed. We are not trying to outdo any hair dresser that is why our looks and cuts are not very conventional. The trend of colour blocking is huge on the local and global runways and we want to replicate the same in hair,” he says.
Toni & Guy’s unorthodox thought process is evident in their photo shoots. The brand created quite a stir when it published a rather scandalous shoot of the fashion couple Rizwanullah and Fayezah Ansari embracing each other. But most shoots are focused on creating shock value through creating hairstyle; for instance, model-turned-singer Meesha Shafi’s short, red, choppy look. “We want to bring a revolution in hair and it’s great that people are finally understanding that a haircut must suit their personality,” says Qureshi who recently targeted model/actor Mehreen Raheel and singer Annie Khalid sporting clothes by the eccentric Ali Xeeshan along with an exciting new look from Tony and Guy. “I like younger designers like Rizwanullah, Ali Xeeshan and Mohsin Ali who are pushing the boundaries for creativity in the country.”
Although Toni & Guy Pakistan is only two years old, Qureshi’s determination landed him a nomination for ‘International Salon Director of the Year’. The awards took place last year in London, where he stood up against giants like Frankie Chan from China and other Tony and Guy veterans from all over the world. “Just to be placed alongside these style gurus was a huge honour,” said Qureshi despite the fact that he did not win the award.
While Toni & Guy Pakistan is trying to capitalise on the recent fashion boom, music is an industry that is largely ignored by both fashion and style icons. There seems to be a preconceived notion that musicians must look unkempt to be taken seriously. While globally, musicians transcend to rock star status through a carefully cultivated image, Pakistani musicians seem to run to the other end of the spectrum. So when the band Siege approached Qureshi to do a video, he jumped at the offer and said he’d do the entire album instead. “I told Junaid (Younus of Siege) that I would create a whole progression of looks throughout the album, like I did for Meesha Shafi,” reveals Qureshi.
If this experimentation with music goes as well as Toni & Guy’s involvement with fashion, one hopes that other musicians will follow suit. “This is a really exciting time in Pakistan when fashion is no longer top down. People are building their own identity which is very important for street fashion to grow,” spoke Qureshi who gets thrilled when young students walk in the salon, professing that they had saved for months to get a makeover from Toni & Guy. Therefore the salon offers discounts for students. “It’s the students and the younger lot, who really give you the opportunity to push your artistic ability.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2012.