Vivienne Mackinder’s images transport hairdressers to a world where creative talent is only limited by one’s imagination. Founder of and seven time winner of the North American Hairdresser Awards (NAHA), Mackinder has worked alongside some of the most respected names in professional beauty.

Mackinder’s collections and imagery remain sought-after from editors both domestically and internationally. She has been a frequent contributor to the runway, working as key hairdresser behind the scenes with Vivienne Westwood, VH1, Vogue Fashion awards, showcasing the Oscar winning awards of Edith Head during Paris, London and New York fashion weeks.  Television experience on QVC, Celebrity Signature Infomercials to her work being shown on Lifetime and the Discovery channelShe has been a celebrity hairstylist working with people like Katie Couric for NBC today show, Down Town Julie Brown from MTV, Entertainment Tonight, Ricky Martin, Ricky Lake, Boy George, and Princess Cecile Bourbon and many others. Vivienne’s skills and passion for her craft are continuously recognized in an ever-changing industry despite the rapid turnover of trends. Mackinder was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from NAHA in 2009, the International ICON Award from the Irish Hairdressing Federation in 2011, the Leo Passage Educator of the Year Award from Intercoiffure in 2012, the Visionary Artist Award in 2013 as well as the AIPP Best Commercial Award in 2014.

We had a chance to speak to her and this what she told us.

On her beginnings 

I use to be a professional dancer, fascinated at how a performers personality changed when they were costumed and transformed with hair and makeup all of which helped them step into character. I knew my dance career was coming to an end at the age of 18 and I want to stay in theatre but go back stage. Hence I studies at the London College of Fashion which specialized in training stylists for film TV and theatre.

The early years were hard, I was not a natural hairdresser, I really struggled to understand shapes geometry and the architecture of design.  I wondered many times if I should quit?  My mum encouraged me always reminding me that I was still learning and when I was good I would have more fun.  The discipline at Sassoon’s was tough and at Trevor Sorbie the standards were very high, so I was always being stretched.  I am eternally grateful for such a strong foundation. Its true great beginnings last a life-time.

On her source of inspiration 

IEverywhere and anywhere that catches my attention – Trevor taught me the art of looking at a shape or texture and translating it into some new form.  He also taught me that there is a fine line between creativity and bad taste.  Yes I have crossed that line, but now its something that I am very sensitive to, never loose the beauty.  On I created a documentary called 100 years in hairdressing, it was amazing to research and realize its all been done before, the challenge today it to give the old a new twist.  Also when I produced the film series I’m Not just a hairdresser, I preserved the history and story of icons. Alas we have lost two great icons featured in the series, Vidal Sassoon and Horst Rechelbacher founder of Aveda, but their inspiration and work lives on to inspire future generations.  They showed how all things are difficult before they are easy, so don’t give up and don’t give in.

Value an idea –  The key today in this busy world is to slow down, to take the time to study and dwell on an idea or shape, not to microwave an idea, let it marinate.  When working on a new collection, it’s about creating a story, it’s more than a cut hair cut.

On her idols

Yes you mention Tony Rizzo and his work for the Alternative, I was fortunate enough to present at his first show, and many since that time.  A great event for a great cause.

  • Mark hayes for his creative technical skills, great sense of humour, integrity and humility
  • Errol Douglas for his class and sophistication.
  • Trevor Sorbie his creativity and ability to have produced some of the greatest hairdressers in the world.
  • Antoinette Beenders for her incredible taste and creativity including her ability to blend high fashion and trade – fresh original and always beautiful.
  • Akin Konizi for his strength and versatility of design a true well rounded master.
  • Angelo Seminara – one word Genius

On the future of her work

Geometrics are now softer, as the art of razor cutting allows for a new feeling, the continuation of curl and texture.  A growing interest in dressing and styling hair, sets, back combing and relaxed pinned looks. I hope my work inspires people to be more couture and creative, to get away from the same old long layers.  Through Hair Designer I now have a platform to share new ideas and connect with stylists around the world, inspiring them to expand their repertoire.  At the end of the day its all about education, you cant give what you do not have! With on line learning you can learn anytime anywhere, from your digital device.  A stylist does not have to wait for the next hair show or seminar to see something new.  I love variety it is the spice of life, so if I produce a soft collection then the next may be dramatic and edgy the contrast keeps me fresh.

1994 Avant Garde by Vivienne Mackinder

On hairstyles

Hair is a vital accessory to style.  Today with so many micro trends nothing is really sticking, if you look at previous decades the trends were distinct almost like a uniform.  Today it’s about a lifestyle

For example:- Rock and roll, Hippie Bohemian, Classic, Glam, Sophisticated, Sporty casual.  All have their own ‘today look’, so it’s all about lifestyle.

On fashion 

Fashion is about dressing up and having fun. Its personal what makes you feel and look good.

The gap has closed – the internet has made the world flat.  Although I would say the English are either very conservative or highly trendy and often eccentric, which I love as they are open to fun and unique hair. Italian women love glamour and sophistication and exude elegant style, even though today it is more relaxed. New York is like Sex in the City, glamorous and yet conservative. The USA is a big country so trends do vary from state to state, but a generalization would be that America is about casual fashion and lots long hair.  I still follow European trends and consider my self true to my English upbringing. I am proud to say that I still wave the flag for British hairdressing.

On her guiding philosophy  

the law of compensation.

1.continue to learn and increase my skills

2. be relevant and current offer what the market wants.

3. be unique – scarcity creates value.

4. add value to my team and clients through these 3 points show that I can – help – be trusted and care.

Vivienne Mackinder

On her biggest accomplishment 


I am a student of my own product, I have learnt and grown so much through this pioneering journey. It is a platform for immense creativity, a playground to bring together some of the best in the business. It adds value to stylists around the world.

Also, being honored for the Life Time achievement award at the North American Hairdressing awards.

On women today

Women are so capable of greatness and are doing amazing things in this world, with a gift for multi tasking, the challenge is all the roles we play. – I often meet successful but not always happy women as they are stressed by the demands of life.

On trends

I am always looking on line for new ideas… what are my hair heroes doing? I now host a blog, (at which pushes me to be a curator always searching for new and great ideas, in art and business.  (…) I prefer an individual look that fits the person from inside out and head to toe.  I think today in this crowded market it important to stand out and yet fit into your culture and tribe.  As a hairdresser your image is part of your brand and culture and what you project you will attract. I do believe in dressing for success. To dress for success, it’s the total look.  You cannot cut the head off the body, “hair is a vital accessory to the world of fashion”. The wrong accessory can ruin the total look.  “Great style completes who you are and does not compete with who you are.” Total style and beauty is from the inside out and head to toe.

Great style is being your best you. At the end of the day your attitude is the most important thing you wear.

Vivienne Mackinder via Intercoiffure

On success  

Hard work, the willingness to try something new.  My hunger to constantly learn. Going slow, steady and consistent wins the races as a quitter never wins and winner never quits. A successful person thinks and does thing differently from unsuccessful people.  Successful people have good habits; they are driven and motivated, working and smart.  They are constantly learning and the wise have great mentors to guide them on the journey. Highly successful stylist are surrounded by a great team. I would not be where I am today if were not for my teachers and mentors.

On travels 

Travel always expands ones level of awareness and is an amazing source of education. Especially to Italy which remains one of my favorite countries to explore. I love its beauty, history, culture, people, fashion, amazing food and wine…! I still believe the British hairdressing scene is the leader followed by Australia. Brilliant artistry.

On naming her work

When I am designing a collection it’s a story and often the challenge is to give the collection and great memorable name that captures the essence of the collection.  It’s like a headline it has to grab attention.