Supercuts: a tribute to subcultural hairstyles through the ages

“We wanted to create something that felt familiar but also unexplored,” says Carlo Avena, the hairstylist and creative director of a stunning new photo essay. Using analog film as a medium, the team – which included Charlie Soffe, Katie Scott, Nat Bury and Emily Wood – experienced running footage on VHS screens and digitally digitizing it, alongside more traditional photography methods.

The result is a story of contrasts. “On the one hand, we have a sharp black and white approach to film photography that could represent the vulnerability of photos, simple, strong and effective,” he says. “On the other side we have a darker section that is more ritualistic, brutalist and a raw approach.” This darker side creates a more sinister feel to the images, leading to what Avena calls a new age battle between modern and classic.

When it came to the look of the hair, it was important to be bold and have the freedom to play around. “Always aim big!” he says, explaining that when working on brand campaigns, the creative is often out of his hands, so the ability to create and perform was a luxury. “If I’m preparing a story, the hair has to be pretty big, right.”

For inspiration, he turned to the perennial subcultural images of Derek Ridges as well as the canvases of Quentin Matsys, in particular “The Ugly Duchess” with her hair in a split point and the portrait of Jacob Obrecht for the bowl cut. The result is hair that doesn’t follow the rules. “If the rendering is too correct and you’re spending too much time on small details, drastically change something,” says Avena. “Cut it with clippers or cut some bangs.”

David R. Brewer