LIKE many good Italian children, Francesco Fontana helped out in his family’s business when he was not in school. So by 8 years old, he was already shampooing clients’ hair at the salon owned by his mother, who made a living as a hairdresser. “I didn’t know anything else [except hair],” he says of his life, growing up and doing hair at the family salon.
“After working in the family business in Italy, I went to London,” he says, confident in his skills and that he knew everything there was to know about styling and coloring hair. “Of course, I realized I didn’t know anything.” That quickly he changed when he joined the team of Toni&Guy, the leading salon chain in the United Kingdom, and founded by Toni and Guy Mascolo, who, like Fontana, were Italian hairdressers who also moved to London.
Since the Mascolo brothers’ first shop in Clapham in 1963, the company has now grown exponentially not only in the UK but also worldwide, with 475 salons across 48 countries. And it is still the only family-owned hairdressing salon company in the world.
With an ambition to excel and push boundaries, Fontana, T&G International Technical Artistic Director and Educational Technical Director for Essensuals Hairdressing, has remained one of the fundamental members of the company’s International Technical Team for nearly 16 years.
His stunning color work has been published in many respected magazines and journals, including Hairdressers Journal, Salon Business, Estetica, Creative Head, Look and Grazia.
He has been nominated as a finalist for Color Technician of the Year at the British Hairdressing Awards on multiple occasions, L’Oreal Color Trophy, and Wella Trend Vision. Working closely with T&G Global Creative Director Sacha Mascolo-Tarbuck and utilizing his unique take on color development, Fontana has been contributing to the firm’s annual educational collections starting in 2005 with “Identity,” as well as in the Essensuals window advertising campaigns, and is showcased at key industry events, including Salon International.
Fontana also works alongside L’Oréal Professionnel and is part of the 20/20 Color Expert team, which is made up of the top 20 technicians in the UK. The expert team support hairdressers with educational training, as well as focus on the link between consumer and hairdresser by discussing with L’Oréal professionals what they want to see in new product launches, new training and educational techniques, as well as giving insights on fashion and color trends.
So Fontana, in partnership with L’Oréal Professionnel Philippines, came to Manila last week to showcase to consumers, hairdressers and the media the latest in haircut, hairstyling and coloring techniques. After training the team of professional hairdresser Cherry Tiosejo-Reyes of Toni&Guy and Essensuals Philippines, Fontana presented the Future Foundation collection, which shows classic cutting techniques embracing all lengths, textures and shapes, like the one-length hair, the classic bob and luscious waves.
He also showcased T&G’s current collection, dubbed “Socialized”, which are bold, edgy cuts in captivating colors that can seal the identity of any serious hairstyle-conscious Filipina. Electrifying and very rock star, but still quite everyday wearable.
Of Fontana’s training, Cherry says, “The deeper technical knowledge gave me more creative color ideas that allow me to envision more contemporary, hip, and customized cuts that fit the challenging needs of my clients.”
A first-time visitor in Manila, Fontana says he has been “pleasantly surprised” by the warmth of Filipinos. “You have so much joy and happiness; all of you are smiling, very welcoming and very attentive.”
Sadly, our hairstyles do not reflect our joyful and fun-loving personalities. “The Filipinas are all so gorgeous but they all look the same,” Fontana notes. “There is no identity. It seems like there is one cliché; they don’t really try to find what’s great about them. They have long hair most of the time, with no great shape and it’s almost all one length.”
He adds that when it comes to color, it’s also the same boring story. “The color story there is either darker hair or ash blonde.”
Fontana stresses that his hair philosophy is quite simple: “It is to make my client look pretty fantastic.” And whether one is 25 or 65, brown, black, or fair complexion, a pretty fantastic look can be achieved once there is trust between the hairdresser and the client. It is something he wishes local hairdressers will have with their clients, so they can properly advice their clients what look will be most suitable for the latter. “When you connect to another human being, a model and client, I think they will feel you want the best for them, maybe build the trust or something, which may not happen in just one session, but you can try. Maybe they will not follow everything that you [the hairdresser] says in one go, but maybe in a few steps they will be open to adopt these.”
He disagrees that there are certain colors that may not be suitable for Filipinas because of our typically brown complexion. “It’s a little bit like makeup; you can use any color if you know where to put it. Now, there is a very simple principle when it comes to color—you need to put it next to the skin tone most compatible. For instance, if you have poor complexion, you need to use a cool color to complement the skin tone. But then that doesn’t mean if it’s against the skin, you cannot use that color. It is more about where the color is placed rather than the color itself.”
Fontana also emphasizes that hair color can be worn at any age. “Every age in our life is a beautiful time. We need to embrace it, not for our age, but for who’ve we become. I have clients who have softer, rose gold tones in their hair, some with softer peach and pinks, and they’re now young in a beautiful, tailored way. If you are in your 50s or 60s and someone tells you there are colors you cannot wear, but if you know how to wear it, then wear it!”
He advises budding hairdressers or colorists to invest in their future. “Don’t be scared to pay for education. It’s like any other profession. If you want to be successful, you need invest in your education.”
Founded by Cherry and her husband, professional basketball coach Chot Reyes, Toni&Guy Philippines brought the business of “Seriously Educated Hairdressing” to Manila with their first hair shop in 2003. Since then, it has added more branches at SM Aura Fort in Bonifacio Global City, Discovery Primea in Makati, SM Megamall in Ortigas, TriNoma in Quezon City and SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. In a bid to cement T&G’s leadership in the professional hairstyling business, it is now expanding the company’s reach via franchising.
- For hair appointments and other inquiries, go to Toni&Guy Philippines’s Facebook page.
Image credits: Stella Arnaldo and Toni&Guy Philippines (Via Picstitch)