This month TONI&GUY is celebrating 20 years in Australia. Yep, it’s a pretty big milestone – they’ve been fixing up our bad hair days for over two decades. We sat down with Dennis Langford, who opened TONI&GUY’s first Australian salon back in 1995, to talk London’s trends in the ’80s, Japan and to find out where it all began.
How did you first enter the hair industry?
I began hairdressing as an apprentice in New Zealand. I was at an all-boys school so I kept it on the low-down, as you can imagine. My mum had suggested it to me,
as my school grades were terrible. I failed everything except English at 50 per cent. I did my apprenticeship at a salon in Auckland after which I became a senior hairdresser. After seven years of hairdressing in NZ and moving to the top of my game, I decided to travel. I wanted to go somewhere in the world that was unusual and exciting, so I went to Japan. I couldn’t speak the language so I couldn’t work in a salon, but I managed
to score a position with Schwarzkopf as an educator. This worked out really well as I was the only foreign hairdresser living in Japan who was teaching. I did some 53 shows in three months on my own. I was so driven
to survive in an extremely different culture. I had to make my own way and support myself. I created my
own looks from inspiration around me: street, music, fashion, architecture, video and nature. I used to wear the funniest clothes because the wackier you were, the better the Japanese people liked you. I developed my own photography, clothes and make-up. I was a one man travelling show. I learnt so much back then.
When and how did you get involved with TONI&GUY?
I heard about TONI&GUY coming to open their very first salon in Aoyama, Tokyo. I made sure I got an invite to the party and went along. There I met up with Toni and Anthony Mascolo, two of the five brothers that
had TONI&GUY in London. We got on well and they said, “when you get sick of the sushi come and work for us in London!” A few months later I did. I got my first job with them in Mayfair. This was 1983. Man, oh man, in that salon there were about 40 staff. The four hairdressing brothers used to work there side-by-side. Toni, Guy, Bruno and Anthony. To see them all in the same salon was a sight to feast your eyes on. What I remember clearly was the hair. Big and curly scrunch dries. Even the straight hair was layered and made as big as it could be, with spiky pieces everywhere. It was tasteful, beautiful, sexy and edgy. What I really noticed was the finish. It was amazing that these guys could get hair looking that good. I had lots to learn. The clients that came to the Mayfair salon would pull up in their chauffeur-driven Bentleys, with their real fur coats on and a poodle in their handbag, and the dogs would lick the froth off the top of their cappuccinos. Clients then would pay an extra 50 pence for conditioner to be used in their hair. How times have changed!
After 10 months in that salon I was the busiest hairdresser in there. I really got the attention of the brothers and soon grew to head up the education academy at St Christopher’s Place. Not bad for a Kiwi lad. I spent 13 years in the UK heading up the academy and being one of the main educators. I travelled the world, made great money and had a whale of a time. I kept doing this until I left the UK to come to Australia in 1995.
Tell us about coming to Australia...
Toni said to me back then, “Dennis, we need to open up in Australia and you are the one to do it.” We both travelled to Australia and spent a day driving around Sydney. In one day we found a premises – Darlinghurst. The advertisement read “No. 1 in the universe, No. 35 on Oxford Street.”
We opened up the very first salon in Australia. The date was November 13, 1995. I was the part-owner of my very first salon. My sister helped fund me and my brother gave me all the financial knowledge to get me going. I could not have done it without the help of these three people. They all believed in me. The brand has grown from strength to strength in the last 20 years. With 34 salons, we are now the largest TONI&GUY in operation in the world, outside of the UK. God I love my job!