Black2Blond & La Biosthetique - Nebulous Beauty! with Dylan Beatch & Sara Burke

Image by Genesis Alvarez
After my book launch for #LifeOutsideTheBox on January 21st, I was feeling very low energy. But with the gentle encouragement of event coordinator Sara Miller, I pulled it together and headed out to enjoy Nebulous Beauty -  a showcase and release of a trend collection of hairstyles presented by Dylan Beatch and Sara Burke, of Black2Blond and La Biosthetique Canada. I am so glad as the event was inspiring.

The venue was 303 Columbia, a space I had not been in before.  It offered an open concept, white room with a low stage at one end and a bar along the far wall. Guests were offered a lovely glass of bubbly to sip as we mingled and had our pictures snapped at the media wall.  As I was early, I even managed to snag a place on a couch - a wonderful place to chat. Two people I was uber delighted to see as it had been a long time was Marc Riese and Anna Riese of La Biosthetique Canada.  I had the pleasure of interviewing them backstage several seasons ago at Eco Fashion Week and was very impressed. You can read that article HERE.
Image by Genesis Alvarez

Another fun moment was to pop downstairs to meeting Dylan Beatch and Sara Burke pre-show. Going backstage at any event is wonderfully crazy, but here it was a crazy shift from open white room, to cramped old basement. It had to be a challenge for the entire team.  Both artists were working furiously. Sara in particular was fascinating to watch as she seemed to be sewing the top of her models head?  I'm still curious about that? Perhaps another article!

The evening began with a tea room style runway show with hair models posing in the crowd.  All models were wearing designs by Vancouver's very own Evan Ducharme.  There were two art installation by videographers Laine Butler and Denis Ogrinc of Que Pasta Productions plus music by  DJ's Wolfy and Sam Rutledge. As the evening progressed, Beatch and Burke took the stage to offer live demonstrations. They were joined by the hair models who again posed for the audience.  How these stylists can work so quickly on stage under pressure was amazing and the final looks speak for themselves. A great evening.

I hope you enjoy this Q and A with stylist Dylan Beatch. It gives his journey to becoming a stylist and some background on this event and its concept.

Images by Genesis Alvarez

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Where were your born? Where did you grow up? 

I was born in Vancouver, however my family moved to Aylmer - now Gatineau, Quebec - before I turned one for my dad to finish his PHD in Pharmaceutical Engineering. It was a beautiful place to grow up. There were no alley ways, just hedges that divided the homes and the other neighborhood children that I would eventually call my best friends. My adolescence I spent in Vancouver. My father got a job out here and so we moved.

What were you like as a child/teen? 

I was always a little different throughout high school. I never really cared for the social norms and found my own identity through personal interest. I wore turtle necks and silver chains while I was influenced by rap music. I grew out my curly tendrils and dawned the veil of a hippie when I started to further retract from the general norm. I was very interested in music and any form of expression that where I felt the pull of meaning. I sang in bands; which gave me the thirst for the stage. I was associated with theatre groups throughout the city such as the Arts Umbrella where many people may shared similar experiences. I acquired an honest love for literature in my English and creative writing programs in school. I sought meaning and creation, it was true north for me and the path hasn't stifled since.

Image by Genesis Alvarez
Were there any early signs you would head into this very creative career?

Looking back, I believe there were signs guiding me in this hairy direction. I wouldn't say I was vain as I had poor skin quality in my youth which always weighed down my self image. This being said, I was quite obsessive with my outward appearance. I had tight curly hair which I would put endless effort into making look presentable. I would shower for and hour in the morning; pulling the tangles from my tendrils with conditioner and when finished I would shake the moisture out of my hair like a dog stabilizing myself with my hands on the bathroom counter. I would put whatever product my mother had provided for me in order to keep the frizziness at bay and walk to school with wet hair, Usually about 15-30 minutes late.  I didn't care much for schedule.

These propensities have cost me a couple jobs. The prettiest girls I found were always ones with unique hair. I found the daughter of a hairstylist the most beautiful because her hair was elegantly highlighted and straightened every day. The "goth" women were always interesting to me because their hair was so different. I dated a girl whose hair was entirely braided in those little braids you would get on a beach in some South American all inclusive resort. I always had an interest in hair and would always ask my hairstylists what they were doing and to what effect whenever they would use an interesting technique on my hair. I've actually continued to use some of these techniques from my memory as a prodding 16 year old.

Images by Genesis Alvarez

Share briefly about your journey to become a hair stylist?

My journey into the industry was fairly unorthodox. After high school my friends and I were quite poor. Some were attending college and university which I never really trusted. I watched them attend Poly-Sci courses and Philosophy courses thinking that they would make great dinner guests, but to what definite career their lofty matriculation would lead them I was not entirely sure. Looking back this was a little narrow sighted. I probably would have gone the route of literature and writing, however I wasn't ready at this point; still chasing girls and ephemeral highs. I found myself chronically fired from all of the part time jobs I didn't care much for. The tardiness being the main factor in my lack of ability to hold a job.

 I began cutting hair on my parents porch during a bought of unemployment. My father had been long bald at this point and had purchased a Conair home haircutting kit from Costco and decided that, "If I have no hair to cut then why should I be paying for it?"  I guess there is some irony in the fact that male pattern baldness begat my first set of tools. I would line my friends up in the patio, plastic hilted scissors in hand and replicate the best side parted haircut I could with the limited recollection of what my hairstylist had given me in the salon. These were the first crawling moments of a the beautiful career I have pastured.

Marc and Anna Riese hard at work downstairs in the prep area pre-show. Image by Genesis Alvarez.

I later got hired on at Ego now called a Tonic Aveda as an apprentice. It was the very salon I went to receive haircuts. My mother told my stylist at the time of my practice and he got me the gig. I was eventually terminated from Ego due to tardiness as I was still quite young and unfocused. I finished my apprenticeship at a small salon called Propaganda and ended up transferring to Black 2 Blond as they were transitioning into the La Biosthetique North American Academy and flag ship salon. I had now been working in hair for about 3 years and having travelled to New York for courses with bumble and bumble. Being privy to the La Biosthetique trend show and foundation of education, I felt it time to move on.

Talk a little bit about Black2Blond? What do you love about this salon and what makes it special.

Every bit of what I'm doing today I owe to Black 2 Blond and their continual support of all of my creative endeavors. I found myself at a low point at the previous salon I was working; with very little room to move around or branch out into any creative. My skills were growing very slowly and the colour line I was using I didn't much care for or understand how to manipulate effectively. The education program was minimal, however I responded well to the education we received. This is when I fell in love with La Biosthetique.

 Image by Genesis Alvarez.
I went to La Biosthetique's fall/winter 2013 trend collection show which is a show that showcases the new hair trend that they have created and explain to the audience of hairstylists how to do the looks and how to bring them into the salon. I ended up sitting next to the sales rep, a lady whom I had seen quite a bit flitting in and out of my previous salon. I was amazed by the quality of work that the hairstylists on stage were producing as well as the company as a whole. The show was amazing, the collection was beautiful. It was unlike anything I had seen. Later I had received an email from the manager of Black 2 Blond asking for an interview. The sales rep had decided that I needed a better home and forwarded them my details.

Since the day I started at Black 2 Blond I have been exposed to some of the most talented and inspiring hairstylists I know in the industry, a pleasant and luxurious workplace and support from mentors, educators and my bosses like I haven't experienced in any industry. In short I guess Black 2 Blond represents a place of growth and I'm very happy to be part of the team.

Image by Santiago Firero
La Biosthetique is a partner in this show - talk about this collaboration.

The La Biosthetique community provided us with support back stage in helping with the hair and makeup for the models. They generously arrived with the products to be used in preparation and the products of which we gave in goody bags for the models. They also gave us the new spa line to give away as a gift basket for the door prize. Which was more than we expected, we just kind of asked for everything that we could have and they provided us with all that we had asked.

How did the idea for Nebulous Beauty come about? What is the concept?

I have an artist statement for Nebulous beauty which I will enclose. Nebulous beauty is in reference to the ephemeral nature of the clouds shape. The concept was born of a yearning to take the things that Sara and have learned and the things that we do regularly in the salon and give them a little bit of air and new life.  A cloud has a familiar form, however they each carry their own unique shape. With this in mind we strove to take the shapes that we are familiar with and push them a little bit, creating a new way of looking at what we see regularly. We incorporated the fringe but in different ways. On the longer silver bob shape, we took the fringe and extended it beyond her hair line and let it rest over top of the sides of her hair. The effect is a combination of a bowl shape and a long bob shape. We were largely experimenting with shape and trying to push the boundaries of commercial sellable fashion.

Image by Genesis Alvarez

Fashion Designer Evan Ducharme provided the clothing for the models. How did they add to your concept.

Evan Ducharme's clothing integrated perfectly with our concept. The pieces we chose were ones that held a strong structural form and also incorporated loose billowy fabric that created a cloud like shape. They lent themselves well to the image of the cloud in that they were vulnerable to movement and wind while still retaining their form.

Image by Genesis Alvarez
Each of you completed a live demonstration on stage. That has to be a lot of pressure. Can you first talk what it is like to create a hairstyle life on stage and talk about what your specific work that night. 

It wasn't really pressure, more so a cathartic release of all that we had been working towards. In preparation for the live cut Sara and I had coloured Devin's hair and I had pre-cut my desired shape into her hair. I intended on showing the transformation from a very classic and angular shape to a very flirty and bohemian look on stage. Both of the looks were quite beautiful on Devin, however the latter look spoke more truly to her character. I did this through creating a bob feeling with an undercut prior to the stage and then cutting the top lengths to the base of where the Bob shape was sitting.

 On stage I took the top layers and cut them with a square layer technique; providing her with the playful texture that is so prevalent in flirty shapes. I chipped around the perimeters of this new shape to create softness around the face and expose the bob undercut form, creating a new shape all together. I then shortened her fringe and texturizing it in a way that she can wear with endless versatility. Because of the underlying structured bob shape, she has a lot of freedom in styling the top layers and fringe. She can part the fringe in the center or to the sides with some of the layers spilling into them, creating a very cool and flirty style or she can wear it simply as a fringe.

Images by Santiago Firero

Can you share something about the two art installations by the videographers

The two video installations were done by Laine Butler and Denis Ogrinc. Laine provided us with the psychedelic cloud advertisement. This was to anchor the ethos to our brand and lend a beautiful kaleidoscopic feel to the evening. Denis shot our collection video which was meant to showcase our collection with movement. We chose the video route over images to provide a more dynamic range of reception. Images can be easily picked apart and analyzed where as a video is constantly shifting and moving, it translates mood and feeling much better as a medium.

In closing perhaps you can each share a favourite moment or look from this evening.

Of the many beautiful moments provided by the show and the preparation before hand, there was a particular moment on stage. With all of the business of the day there had been very little time to connect with any of the models and workers on a personal level. Yes communications are light and it is a lot of fun to be working on these projects, however in the grinding moments before the stage there is simply hair to be done, faces to be painted and a room to manipulate.

Images by Santiago Firero

 When I was on stage everything was relaxed. Everything was happening in real time without pressure. When I maneuvered around the cut to Devin's fringe I paused for a moment as we made eye contact. She looked at me and smiled and I asked how she was doing. She replied with "well" and that it was funny that now that everything was rolling we could finally have a chat. I felt more gracious and more connected to all of the models in that moment and appreciated the time and sacrifice in hair that they had given as a platform for my and Sara's creativity. The blast of smoke at the end was also pretty pleasing to me. None of us knew how to work that machine and having that much come out was awesome.