Japanese haircare brand Shiseido Professional knows how to throw an event. Returning after a pandemic‐induced hiatus of two years, its Beauty Innovator Award Show, held earlier this year on 26 April, was as much a crowning ceremony for the winners of its Beauty Innovator Award (BIA) 2021/2022 competition as it was a brilliant showcase of imagination and skill coming together to create hair magic. Honouring the creativity and expertise of not just the finalists of BIA 2021/2022 but also a group of hairstylists hand‐picked by Shiseido Professional for their exceptional skills, the event played host to models who brought the fantastical creations of these talented professionals to life with three presentations: “Chasing Tomorrow”, a display of avant‐garde creations by the brand’s Artistic Ambassadors; “Back to Basics”, a parade of technicolour hairdos by its Color Creators; and an exhibit of the full artistry of the BIA 2021/2022 finalists.
Kicking off the night dedicated to hair design was an opening address by Shiseido Singapore’s Managing Director Jessica Fun, Shiseido Professional’s Vice‐President of APAC Region Samantha Vong and Shiseido Professional Singapore’s General Manager Michelle Liu, all of whom thanked the many hairstylists and salon owners in attendance for their support and participation. Then, it was show mode as Team Shiseido Professional Singapore and the BIA finalists took to the stage with their models to dazzle with a range of hairdos that spotlit the breadth of talent in the field here.
Creativity Unleashed: The Show
Shiseido Professional Singapore’s Artistic Ambassadors Ken Chong, Kason Kiu, Linus Loh and Kevin Neo opened the show with a bang with “Chasing Tomorrow”, demonstrating their creativity live on stage, weaving, shaping and spraying their way to futurist, cyberpunk hair art created using an assortment of wigs and hair pieces. Team Color Creators—comprising hairstylists Kenzo How, Denton Koh, Deslyn Koh, Sean Ng, Gene Niu, Richard Tan and John Wong, all renowned for their expertise in cut and colour— then took over for the “Back to Basics” showcase, flaunting their mastery of the various hair‐cutting techniques and incredible eye for colour. Both presentations wrapped with a creator‐model catwalk that captured their dynamic as equal partners in putting one’s most fabulous foot forward.
The event came to a climax with the presentation of the top five creations in each of the BIA competition’s two categories, Art Creation and Real Creation. The former puts to the test the ability of hairstylists to translate imagination into reality by calling for them to realise their avant‐garde visions using hair pieces, extensions and accessories. The latter, meanwhile, assesses the stylists’ technical skills through a cut‐and‐colour challenge, to be performed on a model’s natural hair and using only Shiseido Professional colouring products—the trial here is keeping the model’s hair looking smooth and healthy even after it has been put through the bleaching and dyeing processes; a true test of the contestants’ technical know‐how and understanding of hair.
The anticipated BIA showcase came next with a recreation of the finalists’ submitted works on a model. While the entry requirements was to include an image of the hair creation, the real challenge came during the award ceremony where the finalists presented their looks on the runway. Their artistic visions were realised as hair styling, makeup and clothes all came together on the models.
The Real Creation category had finalists develop a cut-and-colour style with the models’ natural hair using only Shiseido Professional’s hair colour products. The challenge was to keep their hair looking healthy even after it was put through the bleaching and dyeing process—a true test of the contestants’ technical skills and understanding of hair.
Scored and selected by Shiseido’s panel of judges in Japan as well as Singapore‐based judges, makeup artist Peter Khor, Senior Lecturer of Hair Fashion & Design at ITE College East Edwin Chua, fashion show producer Jerome Awasthi, fashion stylist and designer Keith Png, and Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore’s Senior Beauty Editor Arissa Ha, the 10 creations on stage were all stunning interpretations of the competition’s theme, “Natural Bonds”. The finalists in the Art Creation category, Olson Tan of Olson Studio and Soo Ze Siang of Shunji Matsuo, showed their mettle with fantastical visions that reflect a desire to connect with nature—Tan with a magnificent creation inspired by the vibrant bird of paradise, and Soo with not one but four sculptural entries that earned nods from the judges. They were joined by Nicole Cheang of Blonde & Pastel Hair Salon, Sam Lim of Cross Hair Studio, Lisa Ng of Kiu Hair Gallery and Rohani Salleh of Shunji Matsuo (the fifth finalist, Ong Eng Zheng of Shunji Matsuo, was unable to present that evening), who held court in the Real Creation category with their edgy cuts and inventive colouring.
Kudos: The Awards
Wrapping up on a high note, four awards were doled out following the visual spectacle. Soo was crowned the Grand Prix winner of the Art Creation category, with fellow Shunji Matsuo hairstylist Rohani awarded the same accolade for the Real Creation category. Both will go on to represent Singapore in the final leg of the BIA competition to be held in Japan later this year, where they will compete against the Grand Prix winners from seven other Asian countries/regions to be crowned Asia Champion.
The win was particularly sweet for Soo, who revealed that he had participated in the BIA multiple times before, but had failed to secure the Grand Prix title until this year. Despite having to manage four creations for the show, the veteran hairstylist, known in the industry as “Comb”, kept his cool and worked steadily throughout the event to bring his visions to life. On why he stayed the course, Soo shared that he looks upon the BIA as a platform where he can exercise his creativity instead of a competition he has to win. “My daily work in the salon can be quite repetitive day in and day out, so this is a good way for me to do something different,” he said. Placing first, he emphasised, is never the end goal and motivation; rather, he’s in it for the learning experience. In fact, he encouraged younger hairstylists to “be bold and participate in the BIA, so they can [get professional feedback on how] to improve their craft”.
Rohani echoed his sentiments, stating that her motivation going into the BIA was to gain experience. She had zero expectations of winning and was surprised she even made it into the top five, given that this was her first time participating in the competition. The Real Creation category involved using a model’s real hair and that, she said, presented the biggest challenge for her. All contestants had to send in a photograph of their hair creation along with their entry and Rohani shared that she had used the same model for the show, so “achieving the same clean and uniform colour in the hair [was tough, since his hair] had been coloured not long before awards night”.
Sharing in the glory were Tan of Olson Studio and Lim of Cross Hair Salon, whose works most captured the public’s heart. After a month‐long online voting contest held on Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore’s website, they took home the Readers’ Choice Award presented by Harper’s BAZAAR Singapore for the Art Creation category and the Real Creation category respectively.
An explosion of confetti marked the end of a successful awards ceremony that showcased the quality of the talent pool on our shores. We can’t wait to see what next year brings.
Brought to you by Shiseido Professional