There’s been so many times in which I’ve doubted myself, or thought I was too old to try again – but you have to follow your heart, trust yourself and never give up.
WENDY GUNN, INTERNATIONAL L'ORÉAL COLOUR TROPHY WINNER
Meet Wendy Gunn; an artist, in every sense of the word.
With a fondness for Monet, a penchant for the sublime, and a profound proclivity towards all things Parisienne… but of course. A true creative with a keen eye for magic; one who boasts an admirable 50 year commitment to her craft, a thriving salon and an array of passport stamps to boot.
Now, Queensland’s own Wendy Gunn is etching her name amongst the greats, as the first Australian winner of the prestigious L’Oréal Professionnel Style & Colour Trophy. An award that saw her chosen among 32 national finalists from around the world.
“The experience was something else; a truly surreal moment!” Wendy recalls with characteristic exuberance. “I’d been so focused on winning for such a long time, that when Australia was called out, I stood for a moment in astonishment… before grasping the fact that I’d actually won. I think that’s when I discovered the true meaning of ‘dancing for joy’.” And dance she did; to the sounds of cheering onlookers and a reverberating applause, no less.
Dancing aside, it’s evident when speaking with the colour master that she carries an almost boundless vitality – an experience-led tenacity and humble self-assuredness that’s no doubt informed her approach to the craft. And her artistic journey to date. “As I was preparing for Colour Trophy, I created a mood board containing my inspirations and celebratory images. I looked at this every day in preparation and was clear in my intention to win.”
So clear in fact that Wendy devoted herself to the pursuit with full fervour, ceaselessly honing her vision, as true artists do. “I must have driven my model Carol mad, as I would stare at her for moments on end. All I could talk about and visualise was the hair, and I mentally prepared myself for the work I would be creating. It was a new level of mental training and an approach to colouring of which I had never before experienced.”
“A week prior to Colour Trophy, I spent some time in the South of France. I booked myself in for a private painting class so as to learn how to mix colours from powder like the old masters,” Wendy continued. “Learning to paint has taken me on a different journey in my life and work; the techniques ultimately inspired my approach to Carol’s colour, and I hand mixed each shade in the same way I’d mixed the paints in class. I started working more like an artist.”
When quizzed on the inspiration behind her winning look, Wendy thoughtfully shares; “So much time and thought went into the selection of my model, and it was really important for me to portray the changing face of Australia. Carol, the daughter of mixed nationalities, represents that beautiful blending of cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities; she represents change.”
On a technical, perhaps more micro level, Wendy drew aesthetic cues from the natural world around her, in a matter not dissimilar to her French Impressionist heroes; “To me the sky has always been such a beautiful canvas; and the hair reflects the blending of [a pink tinged] sky and setting sun; hence the gold-pink touches. I’m inspired by the beauty of nature and its ever-changing displays of colour. I’ll forever be blown away by beauty.”
As is – along with Wendy’s unwavering passion and determination – eternally evident in both her winning image and day-to-day work alike. “There’s been so many times in which I’ve doubted myself, or thought I was too old to try again – but you have to follow your heart, trust yourself and never give up. I entered the Australian L’Oréal Colour Trophy four times before winning, and was so grateful to be named a finalist, let alone a winner of the 2018 competition.”
It was Wendy’s decision to re-enter (and win) the Australian competition in 2018 that would ultimately grant her the opportunity to participate in this year’s global offering, among an inspired array of top artists from across the world of hairdressing. A fortuitous – and hard earned – moment that’s (evidently) made all the difference.
“At the end of the day, it’s more about the journey than the destination, and whether you win or lose, you’re learning. You can’t let the fear of failure stop you, because if you do, you’ll never make things happen. Write things down; if you contain your thoughts to your mind, nothing will ever manifest. You also have to be prepared to put in the work. The person who wins, is the person who does the work… you have to train to succeed in life.”
Wendy’s final pearls of wisdom: “There’s a little quote I love and live by: ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?.” I’m no longer concerned with my age, or confined to a certain mindset. This week I’m turning 70… winning the Colour Trophy has not only given me a new lease on life, it was also a reminder that one is not defined by their age. It’s the choices in life that truly define you. And I choose to live my life fully.”
Amen to that.
To follow Wendy’s journey, visit: instagram.com/wendyhairmagician/