Photography via IMAXTREE

Notes From Backstage at Milan Fashion Week F/W 2019 From Toronto Hairstylist Olivia Colacci

After ten years working the international fashion show circuit, Olivia Colacci opened her hair studio Twentyseven in an effort to slow down, but the Toronto native isn’t staying away from the rollercoaster-paced thrill and surreal glam of fashion week completely. “Fashion week is the best education I could get,” says Colacci. “I learn firsthand the newest trends and hair techniques from the best of the best—hair stylists I’ve followed for years, pinning up their work and dissecting their hairstyles. It’s priceless.” Colacci’s plan is to do one city per season and alternate so she spent last week in Milan working with the likes of Guido Palau and James Pecis and gave us the scoop on the looks she helped create.


The natural look was well-represented in Milan—a stark contrast to the high-concept stylings we saw over in London. At Etro, Colacci worked alongside James Pecis to create undone texture, neither too tightly curled, artificially waved nor straightened, to pair with the brand’s rich embroideries and jacquards. At Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini’s ’90s-supermodel-inspired show, where the team was headed up by Sam McKnight, Colacci described hair as having a “cool girl wave” with invisible side parts and an au naturel feel. Finally, for Eamon Hughes’s Byblos look, to complement designer Manuel Facchini’s Arctic Circle-themed collection, Colacci helped create sky-high ponytails and hair that flowed naturally down models’ backs.

The takeaway: “Work with what you were given,” says Colacci. “Talk to a stylist that will teach you how to make what you have even better. Retire your flatiron.”



No-frills hair was another big theme last week, with stylists doing away with overly fussed with hair in favour of a more androgynous look. James Pecis kept things smooth and sleek, with somewhat severe hair swept across the forehead for Gabriele Colangelo’s minimalist-focused collection. Over at MaxMara, where “Bella Hadid had her bodyguard with her at all times,” the look by Sam McKnight, had a similarly masculine feel from the front, done up in wet-look French braids and deep side parts—the perfect accessory to creative director Ian Griffiths’s Nancy Pelosi-inspired power coats.

The takeaway: “Everyone always thinks that a wet look is created with gel or water, try using mousse and a diffuser to set hair in place and keep hair looking wet. Gel tends to crack and get flaky or look like a helmet,” advises Colacci.


On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Guido Palau pulled out all the stops for Dolce & Gabbana. True to the brand’s tradition of over-the-top accessorizing, he used barrettes, hats, flowers, headbands and more. And over at Vivetta, Peter Gray went against the natural grain with backcombed hair for a “bigger the hair, closer to god” look. Contrary to what that mantra may conjure, the effect was more futuristic housewife than pageant queen, complementing the collection’s mix of hyper-modern and traditional motifs.

The takeaway: “Hair accessories are HUGE,” says Colacci. “Use barrettes, pins, clips, headbands, even bobby pins to make a design.”

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