Peter Gray

“The total look is EVERYTHING! How a great pair of heels makes a woman feel can affect the outcome of a close up beauty shot” says superstar session stylist Peter Gray.

A man often lost in a haze of sleep deprivation and travel, Peter Gray is among the world’s foremost hair stylists: a prolific image-maker revered in the fashion industry for his manically creative cutting techniques and technical excellence. Gray established his reputation in London in the 1990’s working with photographers Sølve Sundsbø, Miles Aldridge and Richard Burbridge and has been creative director of hair on the runways of Maison Martin Margiela, Junya Watanabe, Vivienne Westwood, Badgely Mishka and Hermès.

He’s been christened one of the four kings of fashion week alongside Garren, Eugene Soleiman and Danilo: styling icons whose hair designs rule the runway. Gray has contributed to a range of luxury titles including Italian, American and British Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Numero, Dazed and Another Magazine. His celebrity clients include Gwenyth Paltrow, Thandie Newton, Liv Tyler, Claire Danes, Michelle Williams and Cate Blanchett.

Gray was born and bred in Zimbabwe and the fashion world was not always his grand plan. His academic parents wanted him to study law, however a Saturday job in a hair salon became his vocation. Soon he was relocating to England from South Africa—it was the late 1980’s and Gray worked briefly at Toni & Guy and Cazaly and Co. in London. He then moved to Manchester in Northern England to work for Vidal Sassoon. After five years of crazy nights at the legendary Haçienda nightclub (then booming with house music and ecstasy), Gray moved back to London to teach in the Sassoon academies, working first as International Editorial Director before moving to a consultancy role with Proctor & Gamble. Gray then became International Editorial Consultant, advising on ecologically responsible product development until 2005.

Gray always considers the client’s expectations, and will try to exceed them, remembering that vision and creativity are only valid if they contribute to the overall image. That level of team work and innovation has earned him advertising campaigns for Armani, Yves St. Laurent, Givenchy, Lanvin, Hugo Boss, Lancome and Moschino. In 2010 Gray collaborated with his ex-assistant Masa Honda on a sculptural hair show at Asia Beauty Expo in Japan, inviting 17 stylists, including Nicola Formichetti and Patti Wilson and recent Parsons and Central Saint Martins alumni to customize and re-invent a men’s jumpsuit.

As well as creating imagery in the world of fashion, Gray is also a prolific filmmaker. He forged a niche directing music videos including several for Super Furry Animals singer Gruff Rhys, and has worked with the actor Gabriel Byrne on a short film for Nick Knight’s SHOWstudio.

“My career as a hairdresser has given me the opportunity to collaborate with amazingly creative film people, most of whom have lent their talents to fashion in the form of commercials or music videos, where traditionally one had to contend with huge expenses and limited outlets. The internet and digital video has opened the door to innovation and distribution of the moving image on a huge scale opening the doors to a whole new vocabulary of fashion film.”

What is next for this wildly creative talent and his amazing team: the PG Zoo? “I hope that my most successful creations are still to come!” says Gray.

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Text by Keanan Duffty
Photography by Takahiro Ogawa
Portrait by Anthony Friend

THE OBSESSION ISSUE

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