Ballinteer-born hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons takes us behind the scenes of his new haircare range.
"From Ballinteer to LA is gonna be the name of my book," says Andrew Fitzsimons. We're on the phone, talking about his new hair collection. That he hasn't been snapped up before today to create a hair collection is frankly insane to me. He has almost twenty years of hair experience behind him and a client list that includes Kardashians, Jenners, Susan Sarandon, Adriana Lima, Ashley Graham, Karlie Kloss and pretty much everyone you've ever saved a picture of and brought to the hairdresser. At 32, that's a pretty impressive feat. Especially when you consider that he dropped out of school at 13.
"When I was 13, my mom got me a summer job at a local Blue Rinse Brigade Hair Salon. We grew up with not very much money so I couldn't have what I wanted, so I asked my mom to get me a part-time job for the summer and she happened to get me a job at a hair salon. I cut my teeth on the old Blue Rinse," says Andrew. "It was mostly grannies which I love because grannies loved me and I loved grannies, so that was a mutually beneficial situation. When September came back around and I was expected to go back to school, I firmly made the decision at the mature age of 14 that I was going to start my full-time career as a hairstylist. When my mom knew that I was serious and I was not just trying to get out of school, she really listened to me. I was trying to do what I needed to do in an environment that was good for me, rather than school, which was not a healthy environment. It was an environment which was, for me, incredibly homophobic."
Andrew credits all of his success to the women in his life. "The salon was my first safe space. Being around women would protect me my whole life. Before that, I had no place in society. No one ever showed me that I would have a place in society. I was never shown a trajectory of what my life could look like. For every other boy and girl in school, you get painted a picture of all these different possibilities of what you could do in your life. For me it was like, we don't accept you, and you're not supposed to be here and you need to change and you need to conform. I never bought that, I never wanted to conform. I never believed any of that stuff, I thought, I need something to get me out of this environment and hair was the refuge. The salon was the refuge. And women were my protectors."
At 16, Andrew had an agent and started working in TV, film and art in Ireland, then moved to Paris at 17, then to New York at 21. "That's when I started incorporating celebrity into my job. So it's all been an evolution to now, a point where I'm working with Primark. Primark has been such a big part of my life and childhood, like a lot of people in Ireland. To be able to have moved out of a country that really didn't have a place for me, then create a whole luxury-inspired haircare line and come back to Ireland and share that with every woman - it feels very healing for me. I'm coming back to a country that I don't even recognise and I'm so proud of. It has come so far in one generation. It has turned from a very conservative, single-minded place to this, loving, colourful, warm place with, in my opinion, in my serious opinion, some of the most glamorous women in the world, who really take pride in their appearance and everything in between."
Andrew has taken all his research from near twenty years in the hair industry and created a luxury-inspired hair range with Primark, launching February 24. "With everything that I've learned from all over the world, from trying every single hair product, being on every type of set and red carpet, I'm delivering the highest quality products that I could possibly make with all of that experience. To be able to share that with the women in Ireland, at a price where every single person can afford it feels like a full-circle moment. It is just an absolute dream come true."
Products from €2.50 to just €14, and include everything from silk scrunchies to styling products to hair tools. "I wanted to have products that I could use myself on my clients," says Andrew. "We have used the best of the best of hair technology, even down to the nozzle in our sprays: they are the newest nozzles and the newest way of distributing products. The collection is a journey of what you want your hair to look like, from the shampoos, conditioners and treatments, and how to deal with it. If you want to add volume to the hair, we got the Volume line, if you want to add shine, we have the Shine line and if your hair is damaged from over-processing, we have the Repair line. I'm able to address all the complaints that I don't like in products. We made a really cool dry shampoo that is completely invisible. I don't like when hair feels or looks dry, it can compromise the look of the hair, so we incorporated coconut oil into our dry shampoo so it refreshes the hair, but also the hair is still touchable, still shiny, you don't get that dusty look that you can from some dry shampoos. We made a hairspray based on like, 17 of my favourite hairsprays, very specific things that I need; to be able to brush it out, to not be flaky, to still have shine through the hair. I really just tried to make products that everybody needs at home, but to step them up."
The Andrew Fitzsimons x Primark haircare range launches February 24. Check out the incredible campaign and a selection of products from the range in the gallery above.
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