We sat down with hair guru Neil Moodie, founder of award winning Covent Garden hair salon and British haircare brand Windle & Moodie, to gain some insight into the art of hairstyling. With 30 years of experience in the industry, Neil and co-founder Paul Windle are both renowned hairdressers who have now also developed an innovative and eco-friendly haircare line. Needless to say they are experts in all things hair.
How did you first get into hairdressing and did you know it was what you always wanted to do?
When I was at school I wanted to be a journalist but was discouraged by my English teacher who didn’t think I would be suitable… It was the 80’s and we were all into doing each other’s hair at school, cutting and colouring. It was generally a very experimental time for hair, make-up and fashion and a lot of my friends asked me to do their hair. I suddenly had a light-bulb moment that I wanted to become a hairdresser and began hairdressing without any idea if it was the right thing. I was also fuelled to make this decision by people who wanted me to continue with further education. So I really have my discouraging English teacher to thank for.
Did you enjoy the transition into editorial, what was the biggest change?
The transition was completely unplanned. After almost giving up hairdressing, I decided to become a hair colour technician at Toni & Guy salon in Kensington when it was still a smaller, non-franchised company. Then I met photographer Corinne Day in 1991 through a mutual friend after which I began to colour her hair. In 1993, Corinne asked me to colour the hair of a new model for a shoot for The Face Magazine. Just two days before the shoot, I got a call from Corinne that the hairstylist they booked had dropped out and asked if I could style the hair. I then committed the cardinal sin and called in sick at the salon on a Saturday to able to make it to the shoot.
The shoot was published three months later, and there was one picture where I had sprayed the model’s hair pink at the ends. It seems this picture launched my editorial/fashion career because the week thereafter I received a call from the bookings editor of Vogue Italia who asked if I could go to Milan and reproduce the pink ends for their shoot.
Corinne enjoyed working with me and she liked my ideas so when she kept pressing me to work with her, after some initial trepidation, I agreed. I was thrown in at the deep end and Corinne became my mentor. The first advertising campaign I booked was with Corinne for Miu Miu and the rest is history. The change was huge as the approach to hairdressing is completely different from salon work. I soon realised that my hair “dressing” skills were coming a lot more into play than my cutting and colouring skills. The concept of hairstyling requires much more thinking outside the box.
You’ve worked with so many incredible photographers, brands & celebrities, which shoot are you most proud of?
That’s a really hard question to answer because I’ve done so much work over the past 24 years and to pick just one would be impossible. Though there are a couple of things I’m most proud of:
1) The 9 portraits of Kate Moss taken by Corinne Day for the National Portrait Gallery in London. These are now part of their permanent collection and knowing that my work is on display forever at that gallery is quite special.
2) All my Vogue covers feel special; to have your work featured on the frontpage of Vogue, which only issues 12 covers per year, is an incredible feeling.
3) Any shoots I have done in the past where people even now comment they are iconic images of their time. It gives me a warm feeling knowing that my work has had a real influence on others. Even though it’s not just the hair but the whole image that’s had an impact.
As a hair dresser & stylist you’re on your feet a lot, what are your go to shoes?
I mainly wear trainers to work for better support for my feet. My go to’s are Nike Air Max 90’s and I usually tend to go for limited editions or colour block ones. I also like New Balance and my Adidas Stan Smiths by RAF Simons. I wear a lot of black so I like to throw in some colour to my wardrobe with my footwear, socks and underwear. My Grenson Brogue boots are a current favourite and I also wear Doc Martin brogue shoes a lot. I also love Converse All Stars but you have to wear an insole in those as they have no foot support whatsoever.
I always wear PRO II Wellbeing Insoles in all my shoes as I suffered from Plantar Fasciitis for a couple of years until recently, which is a painful heel condition that occurs in elderly people or youngsters who are on their feet a lot. These insoles helped me through that period and it took many treatments and home therapy sessions to overcome the pain. I still wear the insoles as a prevention because they give great heel support.
What can you not live without?
A Mason & Pearson Brush, Japanese Hair Pins, WAM Revolving Irons, Beard trimmer Victorinox luggage, Tom Ford Tobacco & Vanilla fragrance, music and good food. I also have a secret addiction to Vanilla flavoured Coke Zero, but my new year’s resolution is to cut down on that as I’m aware that I drink too much of it.
What’s your advice for someone wanting to start the year fresh and have a new hair style?
Firstly, it’s only hair, it grows!
On a more serious note: Try on some wigs to see how you would look with another hairstyle, but make sure they are a bit more high end. Try wigs that are close to your own hair colour so you get a more true representation of what the haircut will look like.
Talk to your hairstylist about what they think would suit you. Other things to remember are: to check that the haircut is right for your face shape; make sure you pick something that’s flattering for you and not just because it looks amazing on your favourite celebrity. On top of that, is your current wardrobe compatible with your new haircut? If you have chosen a haircut that requires more daily maintenance, are you the kind of person who will make extra time for that? Being able to carry it off is important too.