Glass talks to celebrated UK hairdressing duo Andrew and Liz Collinge

HUSBAND and wife hair extraordinaire’s Andrew and Liz Collinge are one of the most widely recognised makeover teams in British hairdressing. Descended from a family heritage of hairdressing himself, Andrew Collinge is one of the most widely celebrated hairdressers in Britain. Just like his father before him, Collinge held the Presidency of the Fellowship of British Hairdressing, as well as winning the same institution’s Lifetime Achievement Award and was voted British Hairdresser of the Year twice.

But before these great accolades, Andrew and his wife Liz were among the first to spearhead the on-air makeover format when they began their broadcast careers on This Morning, skyrocketing them both into the public consciousness; the makeover slot, initially just a trial run, was hugely popular with audiences.

Ever since, on-air makeovers have become a stalwart of television, a movement that Andrew and Liz are, at the very least, partially responsible for. Dubbed the “King and Queen of Makeovers”, Andrew and Liz completed over 500 on-air transformations in their eight-year run on the show. But they didn’t stop there; rather, Andrew and Liz grew and expanded their business. In the following decades, they have opened numerous salons, operated an in-house luxury makeover service at beloved London department store, Harrods, and won several of the top awards in hairdressing.

Now both 60, they show no signs of slowing down. Glass spoke with these two legendary figures to find out the secrets behind their success, how they manage their personal and professional working relationships simultaneously, and who, after getting their hands on royalty and celebrities alike, they count as their most memorable client.

andrew lizAndrew and Liz Collinge

Andrew, did your family heritage inspire you to go into hairdressing?
I would imagine that being brought up in a household where both parents work in a family business had an influence on me, but when I was at school I always imagined I would follow a different career path. It was working in one of the salons over the summer holidays toward the end of my education that I saw how exciting and varied a hairdressing career could be, and that made me want to take up an apprenticeship.

Following on from that, were there other moments that made you want to go into hairdressing as a career in your own right?
My father, Peter Collinge, was a very successful competition hairdresser in the early 1950s and I know it gave him tremendous skills, over and above working in the salon. When I started out I decided to try my luck entering a few local competitions, one of which resulted in me reaching the final in London. It was then that I realised I should leave the family business, at least for a while, to try and build up my own reputation and to have more to offer for the future.

Liz, do you feel that working on television, doing live makeovers on This Morning changed the trajectory of your career?
At the time Andrew and I worked together on photo shoots and on hair shows, so to get the call to work on a live TV show was an exciting challenge. Initially, This Morning had a trial run but it was an instant hit with the public, with the makeover slot being one of the favourite items, so much so that we were invited back and ended up working weekly on the show for the next ten years. This exposure gave us a big consumer profile which resulted with both Andrew and I launching our own product ranges, so without a doubt, This Morning was a big moment for both of us.

What was the experience of offering makeovers at Harrods like?
We opened the Make Over Studio in Harrods in 1997. It was a great success and for the next seven years, Andrew and I worked there on a regular basis. An appointment included an in depth consultation, a restyle with Andrew and a makeup session from myself. We also worked with Bruno Lial, an amazing colourist who not only did a brilliant job but was fantastic with our clients who all loved him. I think the secret with these makeovers was the amount of time we spent with each person and the hints, tips and advice we gave throughout the appointment.

Our clientele was varied, ranging from a family treating a mum, someone going back to work, or simply someone who felt a bit stuck and needed advice on how to move forward with their look. It was great fun meeting new people every day and a very rewarding experience as we felt we could really make a difference.

Andrew & Liz CollingeAndrew and Liz Collinge

You make a wonderful team. What is the key to your professional partnership, and how do you maintain that outside of work?
I guess there is a simple answer – “respect”. That is where all good relationships are grounded. We do complement each other, albeit with very different personalities, but the secret is we have the same goals both at work and in our private life.

Andrew, you’ve won several awards, including British Hairdresser of the Year Twice and two Lifetime achievement awards, which your father also won. What do accolades such as these mean to you?
British Hairdresser of the Year was something I worked hard for but it was a long journey. I was nominated on a number of occasions before picking up the title and although there was disappointment at times I think the whole experience made me a more accomplished hairdresser, it certainly made me more determined to succeed. The lifetime achievement awards were a completely different experience as they came as a complete surprise. To be recognised by your peers is very humbling and makes all the hard work worthwhile. Of course, to follow in my father’s footsteps is very special for me.

Like your father, you were elected president of the fellowship of British hairdressing. What does this role mean to you, and what were you most proud of achieving in that position during your time there?
The Fellowship is a great organisation as it gives so much back to the hairdressing industry. Its membership includes the who’s who of British Hairdressing, all of whom from time to time will offer their services to pass on their skills and knowledge to the younger generation. Over the years every single Hairdresser of the Year has been a Fellowship member which speaks volumes for this special organisation.

During my presidency, I was keen to promote member salons to the greater public as it can be difficult at times to find a salon, particularly when moving into a new area.

Liz, how important is it to you to offer quality training for the next generation of hairdressers through your Andrew Collinge salons?
Training is the backbone of our business and as a result, practically every stylist in our salons has joined us from school to take up their apprenticeship with us and continued their careers with our company. Many of these stylists have gone on to be trainers themselves within our college and we now also have the next generation of talent choosing to work for us.

Andrew, having worked with celebrities and royalty, who has been your most memorable client to work with?
The most memorable occasion was styling Shirley Bassey’s hair when she appeared on This Morning. In her dressing room putting the finishing touches on her as she was going through the scales warming up her voice was something I will never forget, she is an absolute star. However, the most special occasions have been the Royal Weddings, which are only topped by when I styled my daughter Ella’s hair on her wedding day last year. [Andrew and Liz styled the hair of Sophie Rhys-Jones on her wedding day to HRH Prince Edward in 2000 and also styled Autumn Kelly’s hair for her 2008 wedding to Peter Phillips, the Queen’s eldest grandson].

Could you pinpoint the highlight of your career?
Although it is hard to choose, I think it would have to be winning British Hairdresser of the Year for the first time in 1993.

CO by Andrew Collinge – Styling range family photo cbbThe CO by Andrew Collinge styling range

Last year you launched CO, a styling range – with all the hair styling ranges out there, what makes CO different, and what was the inspiration behind creating it?
There seemed to be a real gap in the market for products which were effective, but that also left the hair looking and feeling natural. This is a professional range so a lot of time went into testing the products in the salon and getting feedback from clients and stylists.

What is the stand-out product from the range?
It is so difficult to choose one when we have put so much into each formulation. However, we have recently been involved with The British Style Collective creating various styles and providing Get the Look kits with tips for each client. Argan Oil was the star of the exhibition. It is a very sophisticated oil which is lighter and silkier than others on the market.

It is the versatility of all of our products which also makes them unique. Argan Oil can be used on wet hair to achieve a super shiny, sleek blow-dry. It can be used on dry, frizzy hair to enhance the curls and also for prepping the hair for braiding and up-do’s.

Where do you see the future of the Andrew Collinge brand going?
I see a steady progression in all areas, whether it be salons, training or products. We have just moved into our fourth generation with our son Charlie taking over the running of the company. He is doing a fantastic job and Liz and I have no doubt that with his team he will go on to take us forward and continue to enhance the brand.

by Thomas Marrington

Learn more about Andrew Collinge and his salons here

CO by Andrew Collinge is available in all Andrew Collinge salons and online here

 

About The Author

Thomas Marrington

Glass Online Fashion and Grooming writer

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