"From The Industry of Ampro"
From "Detroit 2532 A.D."
From "Salon Domenique's"
From "Salon Domenique's"
Steven Noss is a fantasy hair stylist extraordinaire. He has dedicated his life to entertainment hair, turning was an underground industry into a full-blown career. His innovative designs combined with his high-energy presentation have made Noss one of the most celebrated stylists on the scene, earning him appearances on “America’s Next top Model”, “The Ricki Lake Show”, and “Soul Train.”
To celebrate his two decades in the business, Noss has just released Weaven’s World: A Journey With Fantasy Hair, featuring a stunning portfolio of his designs photographed by Aaron Labaki. Weaven’s World is a beautifully-conceived trip around the United States, as Noss presents designs made for site-specific shoots. From Las Vegas and Hollywood to the Everglades and Detroit, each of Noss’s settings was a deeply personal selection that reveals his understanding of American culture. As veteran Hair Wars commentator LaToya Pearson said, “Hey y’all, I call him the baddest white boy in the hair business!”
Noss speaks with The Chic about his journey through the world of fantasy hair. He recalls, “I think the earliest interest I had in hair was probably roller setting my mom’s hair in the kitchen as a pre-teen. A few years later, I saw an ad in the paper looking for models for an upcoming hair show and I responded with great interest. After I was chosen at the interview, I went to the salon and observed all the creativeness with all the prep for the show. I was absolutely amazed and totally sold on the idea of doing hair and making it a career.
“I arrived at the show, experienced the energy build during the final prep, and watched all the creativity unfold in front of me. I was like a sponge absorbing it all in. When it was my turn to be styled, I told the stylist to do whatever he wanted. I was then given the wildest "Flock of Seagulls" type of style. I definitely stood out!
“After this I started to look into starting beauty school. After I enrolled, I walked in the first day, ready to work on clients. I immediately became passionate about the craft. I started doing Jheri Curls, punk rock cuts, and colors on my friends. I was really excited to be able to chemically modify hair textures and colors.
“In my opinion, hair is like ‘the icing on the cake’ for someone’s look and lifestyle. Wearing certain looks shows power, strength, and confidence. I like to create looks for people that fit them and their lifestyles, whether they are a stay home mom, a corporate attorney, or a major celebrity. I also feel looks should fit occasions as well. Example...you can have on a $3,000 dress but if your hair isn’t right, you're in the ‘Epic Fail’ category. If your hair doesn't look good, you don't look good.
“I stepped onto the scene as the only Caucasian hairdresser in an African-American show displaying more conservative looks on African-American models. I spoke briefly with show commentator La Toya Pearson, and she told me about the Bronner Brothers trade show in Atlanta, Georgia, and suggested I attend. This is the largest African-American trade show in the United States. I was very intrigued.
“I arrived at the show very excited to see what was in store. As I was walking through the convention center I was in total awe. Then I started to stumble upon stylists doing some very unique techniques with imported hairpieces from China and Korea. For three days, I watched and I learned. I saw things like hearts, fountains, flowers, and more being created out of hair. At this point I wanted to take my styling to the next level of creativity. I was ready to indulge in this art form.
“Fantasy hair is a styling category all it's own. There are no fantasy hair schools. This is more of a self-taught craft, kind of like tattoo artists. It's kind of like a ‘grow as you go’ art. It still contains the basic styling techniques that are taught in beauty school, but you have to create your own ways of doing things to achieve the creations that you are trying to complete. Every time you do one, you learn something you can apply to your next creation. It still happens to me to this day.
“I got connected to Hair Wars on my second visit to Bronner Brothers, when I ran into one of my neighbor's nephew's from Detroit. He was working at the show selling the Detroit-based magazine Hair Designs. I purchased a copy and came across an ad for an upcoming Hair Wars show. It happened to be the weekend of my birthday, so I headed to Detroit to attend.
“I arrived at the ballroom of the hotel, to see big screens showing previous shows and a beautiful stage that would later showcase an event that changed my life. Over a six-year period, I watched with pure excitement, seeing fantasy hair creations by Detroit stylists that wrapped the designs around entertaining presentation, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats.
“In 1999, I approached show producer David Humphries about doing a presentation. Well, I hit the stage like an atomic bomb going off! I would come out and do my presentations complete with high-powered Miami Bass music, plenty of booty popping (currently referred to as twerking), and being the only Caucasian stylist displaying my fantasy hair creations on African-American models. It caused pure pandemonium in the crowd!
“With my book, Weaven's World, I selected stories that take you from developing into a stylist, leading readers through my journey and growth as to how I became a fantasy artist. For the chapter on Las Vegas, I chose the Neon Museum, which is a preservation society that houses old casino signs. I wanted to do a post-apocalyptic theme, but when I made the appointment I didn't realize the walls of the place were as high as they were so we missed most of the sunset. That gave the photos an ominous light, so there was the change in the creative to UFO Invasion, which worked out perfect! The designs I created fit right in with the change.
“For Hollywood, I was feeling a theme of the dark side of the Hollywood studio, so I rounded up unique models, rented a kind of dated studio, and played off the casting director, casting couch, the auditions, the girl who didn't get the part, and the superstar. I made sure I created odd looks to stay within the ‘Hollyweird’ theme
“The Everglades shoot shows a reptilian family on a day out on a mystical island in the deep everglades in South Florida. I wanted to do something in Miami besides the beach and it doesn't get anymore real in Florida than the Everglades. I kept these designs colorful so they would be a complement to vegetation that would surround the models.
“For the Detroit shoot, I chose the abandoned Brewster Housing Projects. I though this location was iconic for the city of Detroit because it was the first federally funded housing for African-Americans in the United States. So many celebrities grew up there: Diana Ross and the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Lily Tomlin, and Joe Louis the boxer trained in their gym. The now-blighted buildings were the perfect backdrop for the post apocalyptic theme I was going for.The designs I created are what I feel people would be looking like in the future 2532 A.D., which so happens to be my old house phone number. Since the shoot, the buildings have been demolished but I have a piece of Detroit history in my book forever.
“For the Pittsburgh shoot, Salon Domeniques was the old salon where I used to work, as well as where we taped my episode of the hit television show ‘Split Ends’. Soon after the show aired, a bank in Pittsburgh bought the building so we had to close and move. I wanted to do a shoot in an abandoned salon so while I still had the keys I went in and did my thing.
“For Studio Ala Carte, I wanted to do a simple studio shoot with guys wearing androgynous looks with custom wig pieces and custom jewelry. Notice the guy swinging the coat—that coat was featured on ‘America's Next Top Model’ (as was the dress on the cover).
“For Memphis, I am a celebrity stylist for Ampro Industries. This company has been on the forefront of African-American hair care products for 60 years. I visited the factory where the products are manufactured to do an industrial shoot with designs that are themed around their most popular products.
“I would define chic as above average style with a touch of elegance. Chic to me, as far as hair goes, would be outside the norm with a glamorous and sophisticated edge. I think the reason fantasy hair has such a strong effect is because people love hair and love to see what can be done with it. Fantasy hair will always last because something new can and current always be created. There are no limitations with fantasy hair the sky is the limit."
From "Vegas Invasion"
"From The Industry of Ampro"
From "A Day in the Everglades"
From "Studio a la Carte"