Fashion Week Brooklyn talks inspiration with Jason Lee

Interview by Stephan Verwayne-Mullen
Celebrity Hair Stylist Jason Lee gives us insight on what inspires him most, and how it brings life to his mastery.

Jason Lee is a master colorist and editorial stylist based out of Toronto, Canada. He is the owner and director of Saloniere by Jaso nhn Lee, a boutique studio where after 20 years in the industry, he artfully performs his craft on a clientele of socialites, celebrities and those who appreciate an up to the minute approach to hair. He is the winner of the Slice Network's reality series Superstar Hair Challenge as well as the prestigious L'Oreal Colour Trophy. He has been a regular hair expert for ET Canada, the E! Network and the Globe and Mail. Jason continues to travel between Toronto and NYC working backstage at events such as NYFW and FWBK. Lee is also the brand ambassador for Color Wow and the Lead Har Artist for Fashion Week Brooklyn.

Q. Before realizing being a hair stylist was your calling, what was your dream career?

From the time I was very young, I always wanted to be a dancer. As a kid, I would stay in my bedroom and choreograph dance routines to Madonna dreaming of being her back up dancer! I would later go on to choreograph hair trade shows where I ultimately developed a passion for hairdressing. Most recently, I actually had my dream come true to dance for Madonna at the opening of her gym in Toronto where she selected people to do her dance cardio workout with her!! Dance has always been a big part of my life and is still a major inspiration.

Q. When helping a client decide what color will suit them, which of their features do you pay most attention to?

When I work with clients, I always first try to understand their lifestyle before even thinking about their physical features. I try to paint a story for myself about them which would include their career, day to day life and what they are drawn to. This helps me to determine what kind of technique I’m going to use, whether it’s highlights, balayage or painting. So much of that choice depends on their personal style. Once I understand that, then of course I look at eye color and skin tones. I tend to keep people’s natural colour and work on top of that for a more current style. Hair color is evolving so much right now so it’s a very exciting time for colorists.

Q. At this present moment in your life can you see yourself opening salons outside of Toronto or even Canada?

My salon in Toronto is really just an amazing private workshop for me to evolve and work on clients. My team is incredible and we work together almost like backstage at a runway show where everyone works as a unit. My business partner Anthony and I have discussed opening more salons, however, for the moment, we have a plan that we want to stick to which includes me growing as an editorial stylist/colorist more Internationally and seeing where that goes.

Q. If you could have any other celebrity hair stylist other than yourself style your hair, who would it be and why?

There are a lot of hairstylists that I think are great. One of my favourites is Garren. He’s an icon. Pretty much every hairstyle that I ever grew up looking at (and still today) was done by Garren. Oribe and Serge Normant are also big inspirations of mine as well. Their work is so specific that you can tell they’ve done it the minute you see it without even knowing who did it. Luigi Murenu is incredible and Andy Lecompte really has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening these days. In terms of color, I love Tracey Cunningham and Denis DeSouza. They are both amazing artists and both have been very nice to me.

Q. What was the most recent person, place, and/or object you found inspiration in?

I may be late to the party, but I recently watched the documentary The Artist Is Present with Marina Abramovic. Her commitment to her artistry is something that I find to be so inspirational and pure. I adore artists who are so true to themselves and believe wholeheartedly in what they feel that they would die for their work. I’ve also always been inspired by Jackson Pollock and I try to approach my work in the way that he did. Very visceral.

Q. Being that the fashion industry is diversifying so greatly, we now have a slew of models with different complexions, facial structures, and most relevant to you hair textures. Has this had any inspiration on the styles you have done for your clients?

Well I think anything becomes interesting once you do the unexpected and in terms of hair, it’s certainly interesting when you give a straight haired girl an afro using different editorial techniques, or creating a geometric Sassoon cut for an Asian girl and straighten out their hair to the point that it moves as though she is caucasian. Nothing is more beautiful than when we share cultural differences and absolutely I will create different looks for clients in the salon.

Q. In your opinion what role do you believe Fashion Week Brooklyn plays in the culture of fashion in New York City?

I think the world has its eyes on Brooklyn right now and when you step outside of it, it is inspiring a lifestyle, an aesthetic and a culture that people find completely fresh and current. FWBK is the one to watch in my opinion. It is the playground for emerging artists who will one day be performing on the world’s stage and I’m so happy to be involved in it. Even in Toronto, Brooklyn is a major inspiration to our younger generation and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t think that it’s cool right now.

Q. What is your vision for your collaboration with Fashion Week Brooklyn?

My goal is to bring top notch hair techniques and tricks for backstage at FWBK. I think it is very important to have hair that truly compliments a designer’s vision and I hope to help them tell their story. I also hope to bring an International level of sophistication to the hair for each show.

Q. What advice would you give anyone on keeping their hair style fresh and on trend for SS16?

Cut it and don’t be afraid to slick it!

Q. What are your favorite spots in Brooklyn, and what makes them so special to you?

Well my two best friends both live in Brooklyn so I do spend a lot of time there. Whether it’s at the Fulton Mall picking up grillz, or hanging at This ’n That, I’ve had some amazing times in BK.

Q. On a day off what is your favorite thing to do or place to go?

What’s a day off?

Photo / Creative direction: Dalibor Porcic
Hair: Jason Lee
Fashion: A-Z by Aleksandra Ziravac
Models: Taylor, Tayler, Nicole (TCM)
Casting director: Jerry Brown
FWBK founder / director: Rick Davy