Dear Alan,

Your work as an apprentice Marine Engineer won’t last long. Unemployment reaches an all-time high and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher recognizes the Royal Albert Docks as an opportunity to leverage the housing boom and Britain’s fervor for warehouse apartments. You consider relocating further north, however jobs are thin and there are no guarantees.

Despite your mother’s input, your decision to waive the apprenticeship and dedicate yourself to the New Romantic club scene is the right one. You’ll wear makeup, make your own clothes and wake up in mysterious places courtesy of London’s thriving post punk, Blitz kidz culture. Destiny soon leads you into the heart of fashion and a club queen girlfriend. You fall in love and are often found at her leading fashion outlet, ‘Boy’ a destination for music and fashion influencers; identities sought out and captured by leading titles including i-D and The Face. More often than not, a hairdresser is required, you’re there and draw on your high school Saturday job at the downtown barbershop where scissor over comb and clipper work were the common requests. Not entirely sure what’s going on, you run with it. This is the beginning of your freelance session career.

Your relationship with Club Queen ends and your focus turns to working hard assisting the likes of Orlando Pita – watching, learning and networking. Unlike today, your industry is unsaturated and the opportunities are rich. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and of this, you are a master. You meet a model/photographer by the name of Mario Sorrenti, just one of many soon-to-be major influencers that you engage and form friendships with, Kate Moss is another. She’s only 16 when you meet, but watch this space, almost overnight Moss will join the Nineties supermodel set and it will be you who is asked to die her hair pink for the Versace show. A bold move for an assistant, and one that lands on the cover of The London Times. It wasn’t your idea, but through learning skills across cut, styling and colour, and despite no formal training, you were the one with the ability to make it happen on the day. Skill is power. You don’t want to learn pin curling, but make sure you do, a romantic Australian label will later love you for it.

Life happens and you have a young son, Harrison, based in Australia. The editorial world is gaining serious momentum and it is at this time life faces you with a serious decision, do you chase your career, or chase your career and be a part of you son’s life? You choose the latter and decide to base yourself out of Paris along with the likes of Julien d’Ys, Odile Gilbert and Mark Lopez, travelling back to Australia every 6 to 8 weeks. Through your friend and photographer, Steve Hiett you’re introduced to then Editor at Large of Italian VOGUE, Anna Dello Russo. Anna likes your work and it’s soon printed throughout her respective title and across Britain’s leading front covers. Your mum catches your name in the gloss and finally understands what it is you do. It is at this time you realize, ‘this is it, this is my career.’

Australian VOGUE likes you too, and upon arriving on location you set eyes on a girl ten years your junior. It was model Belinda Riding and after 8 months of friendship, love prevails and Belinda relocates to Paris, with you. Back and forth to New York, Belinda grows tired of the travel and proceeds to break your heart via the next flight to JFK. You pack-up Paris and follow, however don’t be surprised when she’s not happy to see you. But you’re there now, so seek representation with Herb Ritts’s agent, The Agency. 12 months pass and Belinda can’t shake you. Save yourself the time and effort of playing hard to get, she’s the one.

You spend the next 14 years in New York working for the likes of Calvin Klein and Tom Ford, styling Carine Roitfeld’s hair, at home, while her kids eat vegemite on toast. You’re working between New York, London, Paris and stints in Australia, maybe you’re loosing momentum and your contemporary’s are gaining speed with every season. You may regret this but you will think about that later.

You move to Australia in 2008, with your boys and Belinda, and take great pride mentoring and educating young, enthusiastic session stylists. These days, it’s educating that gets you excited. You pass on your well-earned knowledge including the importance of remaining humble while making yourself heard, not through ego and red flags, but through your work. If you have learned anything it is that no one is the best at ‘hair.’ We’re all particularly good at one thing within a sphere – we’re all great at something – and it’s this that will get you noticed.

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