Dunloy’s Joanne O’Neill will be hoping her stunning Avant Garde creations will wow the judges at the glittering HJ’s British Hairdressing Awards

One of Joanne O'Neill's avant garde hairstyles
One of Joanne O'Neill's avant garde hairstyles

Joanne O’Neill is well renowned for her talents as a hairdresser both at home and abroad and the owner of Joanne O’Neill Hairdressing, Dunloy has just received the news that she is the only Northern Ireland finalist in the Avant Garde section of the prestigious HJ’s British Hairdressing Awards.

The iconic photographic competition invited hairdressing professionals and artistic teams from across the country to submit a collection of four images that showcase their creativity and technical ability. Each finalist will now have to submit a further four images to create a collection of eight which is judged in its entirety, before the winners of all sixteen categories are announced on Monday 23rd November.

The event has been raising the profile of talented teams and individuals for over three decades and now the best in the industry for 2015 have been named. Joanne and the other finalists will come together with previous winners, household names and industry icons, at the esteemed event held at The Grosvenor House Hotel, London.

“This is my third time of entering the British Hairdressing awards,” said Joanne. “The first time I was a finalist as well and I am ansolutely delighted to be a finalist again this year.

“I absolutely love the Avant Garde category because not only do you display your technical skills and your hairdressing knowledge, it allows you to be creative.

“It’s such a wide open category, you can chose your own theme but I think it is important to do something that is open to interpretation, something that will appeal to the judges and also something that has a fashion sense as well.”

Creating the styles for these top drawer awards has taken Joanne a great deal of time from their inception to the finished product and she couldn’t do it without some great back up.

“You start off with a concept and then you gradually work on it and develop it,” explained the talented Dunloy hairdresser. “However, it’s all about the team you have working with you to complete the final look that’s important too. It’s so important to have a great photographer who shares a similar vision to you, a good makeup artist and designer. I was every fortunate to get in touch with Jessica Brandt, a junior seamstress on Game of Thrones. I was very fortunate to find a unique person like Jessica at just the right time.”

Joanne is no stranger to success having already scooped a number of major awards including the Irish Photographic Award Avant Garde Winner 2015 and she is three times winner of the Alternative Hair Visionary Award.

At November’s glittering awards ceremony Joanne will be up against the very best in the country including Silvio Hauke, Blue Tit, London; Lucie Monbillard, seanhanna, London; Erika Selvaggio, Taylor Taylor London; Indira Schauwecker, Toni & Guy Covent Garden and Scott Jordan, Taylor Taylor London.

“I feel like I’m a winner already,” added Joanne. “To be one of six finalists is a dream come true because these are names and salons I have followed for years. Not too many people from outside London get through to the Avant Garde final and here I am, an independent from Dunloy. I am very excited about the night because I will be rubbing shoulders with the who’s who of hairdressing from across the world and I know a lot of my clients are also excited about me making it to the final.”

So will it be third time lucky for Joanne O’Neill?

“I’m up against very strong competition,” said Joanne. “However, I have spent quite a bit of money on my photoshoot and the styling. The first two times I entered the competition, I was on a bit of a budget, however, this year I have been doing training work for Wella and using that money to put in to my competition entry.

“It’s about proving you have a strong knowledge, technical ability, cut, colour, shape and form and I have been doing this type of work for 25 years. Although my images didn’t make the final last year one of them appeared on the cover of a magazine in Hong Kong. I’m hoping this year with the additional budget I am hoping I can go one step further.

“I love my salon but I really love the creative side of things, it’s what I am about and I would love to do more fashion work and photo shoots where you can really use your creative ability.”