No one can beat Israel when it comes to fantasy hairstyling… at least not this year. In early May, Israeli hairstylists Alon (Alexei) Selezniov and Hai Shooshan took the gold and the silver respectively at the OMC Hairworld World Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, wowing judges and spectators with their eye-popping creations.
OMC, founded in 1946, is the largest professional hairstylists’ organization in the world, with members in 50 countries.
Part hairstylists, part sculptors, Selezniov, Shooshan and their fellow creators combine technical skill and artistry to construct over-the-top, colorful hair styles that make the models who don them resemble otherworldly creatures.
According to Shooshan, fantasy hairstylists are self-taught — at least in Israel. “We don’t have anywhere to learn this. We even make our own products,” Shooshan tells The Times of Israel. “I make my own gels and sprays, because regular products can’t give the hold we need. I’ve even invented my own comb [called the SplitHair], which is patent-pending.”
In fantasy hairstyling, there are no rules and anything goes. The idea is to use hair —lots and lots of it—to make the most over-the-top, gravity-defying styles possible. Stylists use both natural and synthetic hair. The extravagant peacock design Shooshan showed in Frankfurt during the May 3-5 competition is made entirely of hair, save for some feathers.
“The judges are looking for height. Always more and more height,” he explains. “And they are always looking for something new. So, I made a peacock fan that opened and closed by remote control.” A video of the creation shows that it also breathes smoke.
Shooshan, who did his professional training in his native Haifa and later in Tel Aviv, did not start out doing fantasy hairstyling, which is a relatively new phenomenon. Now, fantasy hairstyling accounts for 30 percent of his work. It’s mainly for films, TV, magazine shoots, and fashion shows.
The 30-year-old entrepreneur, who has a salon on Tel Aviv’s Ben-Yehuda Street, has never studied art. He would very much like to go back to school, but he says that juggling his business and family life (he has a wife and a daughter) is all he has time for right now.
As busy as he is, Shooshan does stop for a moment to savor the Israeli one-two finish at the championship. “I was very happy that we took the gold and silver,” he shares proudly.
The medal ceremony fell on Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) “There we were, two Israelis on the podium in Germany,” he recalls. “I brought up an Israeli flag with me, and Alon and I held it up together.”