The 2017 Wella Professionals TrendVision Awards

To the uninitiated, creative, competitive hairdressing might just sound like contest for those with a particularly good flair for a colour, cut and blowdry.

Yesterday morning, IMAGE went to the Wella studios in Dublin to watch the hairdressing elite at work. We were there to see the finalists prepare for the Wella Professionals TrendVision Awards - a dynamic industry competition showcasing a fusion of hair, fashion and creativity.

We were also there to choose the winner of the 2017 IMAGE Style Award at the Wella Professionals TrendVision Awards later that evening.

Now in its 7th consecutive year, the Wella Professionals partnership with IMAGE Magazine, offers the IMAGE Style Award winner a very exciting package of opportunities for the year ahead.

The winner of The IMAGE Style Award, chosen by IMAGE Magzine Editor In Chief Melanie Morris, is our go-to expert in IMAGE Magazine and on IMAGE.ie. They're the one we ask for advice, tips, trends and rescue remedies. They'll also judge the IMAGE Business Of Beauty Awards and lead the charge in hair features for the next year. No small task, so we needed someone with fierce vision, an editorial eye, international perspective and a great way of interpreting all that's out there.

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Over the day, the stylists created their vision, aided by their own makeup artists. It's not all hair either - fashion is a key component in the competition too. Many created the outfits their models wore themselves and several sourced Irish local and budding designers.

We watched the hair stylists at work in the Wella Dublin studios, putting finishing touches to models they'd worked with for months to ensure healthy hair, coloured, cut and crimped into fashion-forward masterpieces.

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Showing up with talent alone doesn't cut it. Bloody hard work has gone into these styles, months of practise and preparation and inspiration. Inspiration from much further than just the SS17 or AW17 runways; yesterday we saw hair created and styled by the hairdressing elite that was inspired by (and clearly represented) architecture, the ocean, digital technology and new ideals of femininity.

There's a strict science to this kind of hairdressing. Throughout their presentations, competitors gushed over how they achieved their technique with long practice and the time they had that day to creative their look, and if you don't understand the jargon it doesn't sound too far from a maths class: "I multiplied 59.6% by colour number 13, styled in a diamond shape using scissors over comb to achieve the feather texture and divided that by the square root of Wella colour number 6X895C and the ratio of that, subtracted from the clothes hanger we used in her hair and backcombed by Pythagoras's therom helped create the messy fishtail braid." Well that's what I heard.

After we had been enthralled by the finished looks and heard the stylists present their vision, we took to the Clayton Hotel to see the models walk an immense runway at the Wella Professionals TrendVision Awards, hosted by Nicky Byrne.

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Another year of The Wella Professionals Trendvision Awards meant that it was time for Wella Professionals International TrendVision Platinum-winning hairstylist Darren Lacken to pass the baton.

At the awards last year, Darren's entry in the annual Irish heat of the Wella TrendVision Awards won him a place in the Irish and UK final in London. Darren's mink- tinted ?Purdey? cut made heads turn and he won Gold status, and a place in the overall world finals, which took place in Barcelona in November 2016. While other Irish stylists have gone this far and received such accolades, what happened next was a first. Darren won the overall International TrendVision, with a Platinum award.

In the August issue of IMAGE, Melanie Morris describes Darren as "like a rock god of hair - headlining (quite literally) at Wella events all over the world. Toronto recently, next up is Amsterdam, then Belgium in September. In between, it's back to the salon to look after clients and shoot with his squad." The salon, Crow Street Collective, is owned by Darren Lacken and his partner, photographer-turned- businessman Mark Talbot.

At the awards, we watched a behind the scenes video of our August issue cover shoot. Darren did the hair for our August cover, alongside his long-term creative collaborators and friends, stylist Courtney Smith, make-up artist Roy Wong and photographer Alex Hutchinson. You can watch the behind the scenes video from our August cover shoot below.

As the show drew to a close following a presentation of talent from the Wella Style Council and a final walk down the runway from the Wella Trendvision Award finalists, Melanie Morris picked the IMAGE Style Award winner, Sharon Sheehan of AC Pure.

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Melanie Morris had this to say about Sharon:

"Every year, the Wella Professionals TrendVision Award gives the hottest hair creatives an incredible platform to showcase their expertise, and we at IMAGE love getting this 'up close and personal' access. In collaborating on the IMAGE award, we've worked with some seriously talented hair stylists and this year we're over the moon to have chosen Sharon to be our go-to expert. I've been a big admirer of Sharon's work for a long time and I'm thrilled that we'll get to have her voice, tips and expertise to share with readers in IMAGE, and on IMAGE.ie over the next twelve months."

Look out for Sharon's contributions in IMAGE Magazine and on IMAGE.ie!

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