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Who’s cutting your hair? Getting to know Gian

So, Gian, how did you first get into hairdressing?

I was finishing secondary school when I was 18, but I didn’t really have a focus on academics. My very good friend introduced me to a hair academy in Turin, Italy. It was very exciting. I loved the industry – getting the chance to transform how someone looked and maximising their beauty.

During the six years I spent at the Academy I learned a lot, colouring, shaping and even the psychology of people.

After the academy I worked as a manger for a couple of salons that my academy teacher owned. Then I had an urge to imprint my own name in what I was doing, so I opened a salon with a partner in Turin – it’s still open. But after six years of ownership the mentality between me and the business partner became a little different and we parted ways.

A friend of mine from the academy had a salon in London, who teased me with the idea of moving. At that time, I was ready to have a change, to move on and try new things.

For five years I worked in a very vibrant environment at a salon in Kentish Town, it was an upmarket salon with lots of stylists and a very challenging environment. I learned from watching other stylists, it was a very stimulating time and my colour technique improved dramatically. I spent another five years working in Highgate before finally joining Canonbury Hair 9 years ago.

What is it about hairdressing that you enjoy the most?

The artistic approach. It is a challenge to work on an undefined shape, to create a new look which allows me to open my third eye, my artist eye.

Working so long in the academy I had a long time to explore new shapes and forge new styles, colours and looks.

Today I follow the guidelines that I learnt, but you must have a relationship with the hair in the moment, a feeling to create something special. I love giving a little bit of creativity to personalise my cut – it is a piece of art to me. I’m free to express myself and that’s what I love.

However, I’m a very visual. So if someone gives me a picture, I’m able to replicate it, I’m very happy with this approach – show me what you want and we can work to achieve it – but with a little Italian flare!

How has hairdressing changed over your time working as a stylist?

In London people dare. Italy has a more classical, regimental approach to hairdressing. We offer a service, but it is more driven by what the client wants, not giving stylists the opportunity to push new trends.

The care for the hair has improved dramatically thanks to a much-improved technology allowing professionals to push the colouring service to extreme effect without damaging the hair. New products that allow lifting of old colour and Loreal products like Smartbond focus on preserving the strength of the cuticle. We don’t want to destroy the hair, so the client then regrets it over the next 10 months. We must respect the nature of the hair and think about long-term lasting results, not just a quick fix.

Are there any styles or techniques that you would say are your speciality?

I like the full approach, giving the shape, colour and flare. When I came to London I worked with a Japanese stylist who was very accurate and precise with their colouring. I was very lucky to work with them and it has strengthened my colouring skills.

I have the knowledge and experience to mix the colour to suit the client. For example, creating colours with the right shades, not overusing products and getting the end colour just perfect.

The haircut allows me to move with the hair and follow the flow. The precision of movement is essential and expressing myself with the cutting achieves the best results.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

I’m very creative. I like painting. There was a time when I used to paint quite a lot, using colour contrast. I loved it – it liberated my creativity! I’ve done three wood sculptures – they are somewhere in Italy.

My son is almost 8 years old, he is full of energy – very intelligent (like his mother).

I like boxing, skiing, mountain biking, I even used to do motocross. If it’s challenging, I’m signing up.

If you had to have dinner with someone dead or alive who would it be?

Leonardo da Vinci, a genius, visionary thinker, great artist and inventor.

What makes Canonbury Hair a special hair salon?

The relationship with the client is not a one-night stand. We have good long-term clients because we have a working partnership to be able to recommend the right results and not solely focus on how they look when they leave. In Italy sometimes I did a colour that looked amazing, but it only lasted the three days needed for a photoshoot. But for our clients we have to think about continuity and respect for the long-term results.

Our salon has a very good relationship because we care. There are not many salons that are open for 40 years, average age is maybe 4 or 5 years, 10 years max.

Favourites:

Movie – Forrest Gump, I’m an emotional person, like movies that bring tears to my eyes
Artist – David Bowie, Prince – British pop, but also classical to help me expand my emotional side
Food – Spaghetti alle vongole (clam spaghetti)
Animal – cats and dogs, but really any kind. They are beautiful creatures – my sister is a vet so forced to grow up with so many pets
Drink – Negroni