For Peter Lux, the passion and love for hairstyling started when he was a child while looking at a ponytail moving with the wind; later, he moved to London, where he took a “brave step,” and entered the world of creative hairstyling for clients such as Florence Pugh, Bella Hadid, Hailee Steinfeld, and Gillian Anderson.
The secret behind his looks? Enhancing natural textures. His must–haves? Some good oily products. Too much hairspray? There’s no such thing! That’s what we chatted about with Peter while in Venice, learning that the most important thing you need to create special hairstyling is being confident. And not feeling the pressure!
What’s your earliest beauty memory? Did you immediately fall in love with hairstyling, or was it more like a process?
One of the things that I can really remember is that when I was very little, I must have been 3 or 4 – I grew up mostly on the beach – I was a very dreamy child, and I remember finding it fascinating to look at how things moved in the wind; there was a woman, with a ponytail, with long hair, and she was walking, and I was very small, walking behind her: I looked up and saw how the ponytail moved when she was walking and it fascinated me.
This is so romantic.
Yes, I guess! I just love seeing how it moves and how people interact with their hair.
What’s freedom for you in your work?
I’d have to say freedom for me in work is the experience you have once you’ve been doing hair or any kind of craft for many years. It’s interning to see how it becomes almost innate, to the point where it just happens. I’d say that that having the years of experience would be my freedom, I suppose.
What’s your favorite texture when working? What are the products or hair textures that you prefer?
There’s really something about the naturalness of hair when you can emphasize its natural texture that’s already there, but I guess it just depends on what it is and who it is and seeing it transform. I don’t think I have a favorite texture, I really like a natural texture, but it could be a very groomed, made-up texture that I’ve achieved with products and heat styling tools, for example. When I do red carpet hair, I really enjoy using a lot of oily products. I always like the look of an undone, pricey up-do. Using oils and a lot of styling creams makes the look more modern.
What are your favorite oils?
The Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil, and I also really like the Supershine Light Moisturizing Cream by Oribe. I use the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray on the roots a lot, and then the Oribe Apres Beach, which is a dry, oiled spray on the ends, and you get that easy effortless texture. I love Oribe’s products, they are really good, they do what they say.
“Using oils and a lot of styling creams makes the look way more modern.”
You did a lot of looks over these days. Do you love the hectic moment before the red carpet, the creativity between you, the makeup artists, and the stylists? Or do you get a little bit anxious?
No, I don’t get anxious at all, it’s my favorite thing!
I love the pressure, I love it when they tell me I’ve got 45 minutes. You make a decision and you go for it. I’ve really enjoyed, most of all, the collaborative process of meeting the stylists, and being told what the person is wearing on the red carpet, what jewelry they wear, what the makeup artist thinks, what the person thinks of course, how they feel, understanding who they are, and then translate that into our vision, what we can do, what can we think would be nice and different and might not have been done before, something a bit new and different.
It’s also not as spontaneous as it sounds, I find that, when I have something big, I mean a client is attending a big event, I need some time to really think through my ideas and maybe get inspiration from references. Often my ideas come at night which is strange but it’s always been like that.
When I worked with Bella Hadid in Cannes, the dress was so amazing, and I needed a moment to think about all these different elements and options and so on. Even the one with Trish [Allison], it was my first time doing her hair, but I saw her pictures online, saw what she looks like, and I had a few ideas ready, and I had in my head what we could end up with, but it’s not like I do it on the spot, even though it happens a lot that you have to make it on the spot, I always feel that now I need to prepare my mind for what it is that I can do. It’s mostly because I always want to try and do something special, something that sticks in people’s minds.
Hair, I find, it’s such a character-defining component to the whole person; it is so much fun to really get into the element. I always find can take all the clothes away of somebody, but, let’s say, if it is just a very sharp bob, it becomes very 1920s, so it doesn’t need the clothes to show that it’s 1920s, you can just transmit that with a hairstyle, or the ‘60s, with the beehives and stuff; you can take all the clothes away. But you can just have a hairstyle, and you know exactly what it is, what the era is. I find hair so character-defining, and so it determines a look and makes or breaks a look.
“Hair, I find, it’s such a character-defining component.”
Personally, when I have a bad hair day, I know that I could do any kind of thing, like dress up and do a good makeup look, but I know I won’t feel well anyway, and the whole look would be ruined because hair is so important. The same goes for the red carpet, you notice these beautiful women, with nice dresses and makeup, but if their hair is not done well, it’s all ruined.
Yeah, I think so, too. Especially now, there are many very good hairdressers, so you have to differentiate.
Do you have any must-haves, tools you can’t work without?
I think everything that you see there is a must-have for me. I always need a good hairdryer. You don’t want to spend a long time heating up the hair, you want to dry the hair very quickly because you want to retain the hair’s integrity: a bad quality hairdryer would take 30 minutes, while with this one from Ghd I could blow-dry in 15 minutes, it’s very reliable.
I don’t use many products, that’s the one thing I don’t really feel is necessary for me, I’ve never used much product, but I like a good product, just one. I can just go with hairspray, I can do almost everything with hairspray, as long as it’s a good hairspray. I really love brushes with natural bristles because they give the hair the most shine and they don’t overheat like the ones with a metal core.
You’ve done this work for 23 years: what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned over the years?
The one thing I’ve really learned is that with styling hair, you can’t cut corners, you have to execute every step fully, you can’t just be like, “oh, it’s the back, I’m not going to do it, I’m not going to spend time on it, I’m going to do it quickly,” it never works. You have to accomplish every step, from start to finish, otherwise, you can tell it doesn’t work. That’s the one thing I’ve really learned.
Another thing that I’ve learned is that I really love to understand the person whose hair I’m doing, I love to talk a little bit, understand where they live, where they grew up, it really helps me paint a picture of who this person is, whether it is the regular woman who works as an accountant, or the Hollywood movie star, it is very interesting.
Is there a work you’ve done lately that you are very proud of?
I’m always very proud of these collaborative moments when you just know and feel that everyone is tuned in on the same level and together you create something beautiful. I feel lucky to say that I’ve had many of those moments recently. The work with Florence Pugh and Bella Hadid certainly feels like that.
I’m curious: how much time did it take you to do Bella’s hairstyle?
It took me about two hours, but that’s kind of standard. It’s nice to have the time to really refine something.
What do you have too many of?
I’ve got so much hairspray at home that I will never in my life need to buy or get sent more hairspray [laughs]. I have so much hairspray, it’s ridiculous.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
In retrospect, there are many things that, I don’t know if they were necessarily brave, but they were naïve. I was 21 when I moved to London, and when you’re so young, you think, “yeah, I’m just going to go to London, I’m just going to see how it goes!”. Now, I’m older, I have to overthink everything, and then I might still not do it, whereas, while you’re young, you kind of just do it. It was also the way I landed in this career, becoming a session hairdresser, or a hairdresser who doesn’t work in a salon: it was a Sunday, I was in London, I was 21, I was at this market with my best friend Kathrin, we got talking to this girl who owned a stall. She asked us what we do and we said: “We are hairdressers,” and she went, “My friend is a photographer and she needs a hairdresser for Saturday because she wants to do a test shoot, but her hairdresser just canceled her,” and I was like, “I can do that!” and I’d never done a shoot before, I’d just worked in a salon, starting from when I was 17, so by that point, I was working in a salon for four years, but I said, “Sure, I can do that, that’s no problem!”.
I ended up doing it, and I was kind of pretending that I knew what I was doing, but I had no experience in this, but intuition and being confident in the situation can really help, you have to be confident. I would say that that was probably very naïve, but had I not done it on this day, I think I might not be doing what I’m doing today. It’s like these little moments that took me on this journey, but I only see this now, back then I was just like, “oh yeah, I can do this,” it felt like nothing. In retrospect, I feel like this was maybe the breaking point, the one moment when I was brave, or confident, and it really got the ball rolling.
“You have to be confident.”
Last question: what does it mean to you to feel comfortable in your own skin?
I don’t really know! I guess it’s different for everybody. I guess for me it’s trying to be healthy inside and out, to respect myself, and simply like myself. Eating clean, exercise, go to the pottery studio and make pieces or go surfing.