Thursday, 29 August 2013

Spotlight - Mr Franco Vallelonga

Any rakish gent will know the importance of a great haircut. The way that you have your hair almost defines your whole look and influences the way that you dress. Mr Franco Vallelonga is one of the UK's most famous and talented hairdressers. 

Known for his understanding of what men want and how to get that look, his work has been featured in magazines such as, as well as on numerous fashion campaigns. Franco's amazing grooming has been featured in 7th Man, Attitude, Esquire, i-D, Mens Health, Shortlist, The Telegraph and Wallpaper along with loads of other titles. Franco has chosen the favorite of his images for this post, and all images have been kindly reproduced with permission from Franco. 

I have been lucky enough to steal some of Franco's precious time and ask him a few questions about his career and his thoughts on mens hair generally and for the coming season. 

Interview with Franco Vallelonga 

RG: Tell me about your background and how you came to be a hair stylist? 

FV: I was born and raised in Perth, Australia by Italian parents. I was the youngest of 3 children. I was always determined to do something that I would really enjoy when I got older and was quite arty from a young age. I wanted to be an interior designer in high school, but at 15 did some work experience in a hair salon After this, it felt very natural for me to be in a hairdressing environment. The guys at the salon offered me an apprenticeship so I followed this path. I later studied and received my Art & Design certificate and began to study Interior Design. I missed hairdressing so much that after 6 months I went back. I moved to Sydney in 1999 and after a year headed to London. In 2004 I won a place as part of a Fellowship for British Hairdressing F.A.M.E team which led me to start working on hair styling teams for New York, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks as well as on photographic shoots. 

RG: Tell me about the team that you work, their talent and experience. 

FV: I work with many teams, Era Artist Management represents me. The team there represents photographers, art directors, hair stylists, stylists and make up artists and offers a full production and constant liason through the day. I have been lucky to work with some amazing people. I love meeting new teams especially when we produce amazing work together. I also work at Percy & Reed Salon ( around 6 days a month, mainly Saturdays, just to see my clients that I have been looking after for years, from when I was working full time in a salon. My clients have seen my progression and have become friends who have been very supportive and encouraging. I have been working there for a few months now and its great working somewhere where everyone gets along. 

RG: What are your male clients coming to you for at the moment? 

FV: Most of my male clients come to me for the usual hair styling and shaping advice. I trained as a barber for the 1st year as an apprentice before training in womens hair too. Most men want hair to look good and be low maintainence. Maintaining great looking hair involves more than good communication with the client. I generally like to cut men's hair in a way that works with the natural movement that they have. I like hair to grow out and still look as good as it did on the day of their appointment. A lot of my clients have their beard shaped too and that is becoming as important as the hair on their heads. Defining a neck line can make or break your full designer beard. 

RG: What are the key trends and styles for mens hair for Autumn 2013? 

FV: A more groomed look. A more traditional short back and sides with side parting, but not as slick as S/S 2013. More texture on top is an alternative to the slick side parting. If you have a wave in your hair, you should embrace it and enhance it. We are still seeing shorter back and sides but more length and volume on top. 

We will also see more shine with styling cremes and gloss products being used. An alterative style is a natural finish (wash and wear). Longer, textured styles created with mattifying products like sea salt sprays, loads of texture and volume. 

RG: How do we achieve these looks? 

FV: Think more relaxed and groomed as opposed to super sleek. After washing your hair and towel drying, apply a small amount of product, either a leave in conditioner or styling creme depending on what your hair needs. Side part your hair working with your natural parting if you have one. Comb in into a sleek side parting but then use your fingers to comb it through and loosen it up. Wait until its semi dry or dry to do this. After, use a gloss product to give it extra shine and hold. The second style is easy. After washing your hair and towel dying, apply a small amount of sea salt spray to your hands and work into place with extra matte paste after. 

RG: What products can your recommend? 

FV: I tend to like trying new products all the time. Every product has something slightly different from another and you really need to find the one that works best for you. Here are some products I used for the looks coming out for Autumn 2013: 

Wella SP Men Hair & Body Shampoo 

Ojon Super Sleek Restorative Blowout Perfecter

Wella SP Men Cream Wax 

Sebastian Shine and Flexible Hold spray

Bumble and Bumble Brilliantine  

Bumble and Bumble Surfs Up 

Percy & Reed Superstar Supersized Bodifying Cream 

Bumble and Bumble Thickening Creme Contour 

RG: What is it about you that sets you apart from other stylists? 

FV: I do a lot of male grooming on shoots and I guess most groomers are make-up trained, where as I am hair trained. With Male grooming it is really important to have a good understanding about hair and being able to do a trim up if necessary. Of course, knowledge about facial hair is a must. I guess I like to keep at the forefront of what’s happening and what new products are out. Men’s fashion has really boomed in the past few years and men are really concerned about what they look like. 


RG: What makes a rakish gent?

FV: I think the key to a great looking man is someone who has made a conscious effort, but looks effortless. 

I woud like to personally thank Franco for his time and for being so accommodating. I think you will agree that he is an incredibly creative and knowledgeable person that really knows what he is talking about.

Find out more about Franco Vallelonga at

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