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Leslie Henshaw: Hair Chameleon

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He may only be in his early twenties, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Leslie Henshaw.

Former creative director for Bond Hair Religion and current Head Colourist for Next Hair in Braddon, Leslie’s evolution from young TAFE student to successful hair stylist has been rapid, being listed as a finalist at the 2016 Australian Hair Fashion Awards for NSW/ACT Hairdresser of the Year and finalist at the 2016 Hot Shots Awards for New Rising Star.

Leslie Henshaw. Image: Supplied

Leslie Henshaw. Image: Supplied

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his creations.

A style chameleon, Leslie is interested in anything and everything that involves the idea of changing the look completely: from the smallest detail to a large scale conceptual cut and colour.

When asked to describe his style in three words, Leslie pauses.

“Creative, bright and playful,” he says. It’s easy to see why when you look at his Chromatophores series – the collection that delivered his previously mentioned accolades. Leslie used chunky vibrant stripes and patches of colours, slowly transforming hair from muted tones into mesmerising lines.

From the Chromatophores collection

From the Chromatophores collection

Leslie explains that he took his inspiration from nature.

“In some animals (such as chameleons) cells known as chromatophores give the miraculous ability to change their colour to protect themselves.”

Leslie says that this natural process made him wonder what would be like if humans could perform this amazing feat with their hair.

From the Chromatophores collection

From the Chromatophores collection

Aside from creating unique collections such as these, Leslie’s experience covers creating runway and editorial looks, being chosen as the Hair Director for Wayne Cooper at Fashion Week and being intimately involved in Sydney Fashion Week for three years in a row.

Leslie says the atmosphere of backstage gives him a buzz of energy and inspiration like no other.

From the Chromatophores collection

From the Chromatophores collection

But there are other highs—most recently he has styled celebrities such as Ruby Rose and Karise Eden, scored TV gigs styling The Biggest Loser contestants, and worked on the shows such as X Factor and The Face.

There’s a duality to his career, however, and aside from the glitter of the runway, Leslie has made sure his skills have been shared with those less fortunate.

In 2015, Leslie took part in Hair Aid, a not-for-profit skill-sharing organisation in the Philippines, where he taught homeless Philippinos’ hairdressing skills.

Hair Aid's training salon in Quezon City

Hair Aid’s training salon in Quezon City

“It was a great experience, and I’d like to do it again,” says Leslie.

But there’s no slowing down and 2017 started with a bang. Recently named a National Educational Leader for Evolve Hair Concepts, Leslie took the initiative to create the ultimate “Canberra creative team” of hair professionals.

This dream team meets regularly to create group projects that push boundaries, with the end goal of putting Canberra firmly on the creative map.

From the Chromatophores collection

From the Chromatophores collection

The ‘squad’ includes Gess Mazis (La Bimbi), Shaun Cassar (Ora Hair), Aaron Nallo (Anton’s Salon) and Anna Marcovic (Hair Spectrum).

“In Canberra, we are lucky to have some of Australia’s best hair and beauty professionals,” says Leslie. “No matter where do they work, they are excited to collaborate together and share ideas with the creative industry of Australia.”

The team is currently working on an exciting content for The Hair Colour Bible book, which is to be released later in March.

From the Chromatophores collection

From the Chromatophores collection

To see more of Leslie’s work, check out his Instagram or find him at Next Hair in Braddon.

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