If you strive to become something great in your life, something beyond what is expected of you, and you succeed…you just might get one of those “look how far I’ve come” moments. Londoner Daniel Doyle has experienced one of these; actually, more than one. The first one, like your first love, is a moment that you never forget. As a youngster in his hometown of Liverpool, Doyle used to pretend to cut hair. Upon reaching his adult days, he enrolled in a course at Sassoon and was soon hired at the prestigious Neville salon in London. While achieving acclaim at your vocation in the big city is all well and good, it’s still not the “wow” moment alluded to earlier; that would come when Daniel was enlisted as a stylist for the Paris Haute Couture Fashion week. The French take a good amount of ribbing from the world but there is no doubt that they know fashion and style and are recognized the world over for it. It is a major accolade from the global fashion community when they request a stylist such as Doyle to help them manifest the high fashion presentations for this premier event. If Daniel had wished to be a footballer it would be the World Cup or the Olympics that would have held allure for him. As a stylist, Paris Haute Couture Fashion is on a peer level with these universally respected events.

The term “haute couture” is protected by law in France and is defined by the Paris Chamber of Commerce (Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris). In order to earn the right to call itself a couture house and to use the term haute couture in its advertising and any other way, a fashion house must follow these rules: design made-to-order for private clients, with one or more fittings, have a workshop (atelier) in Paris that employs at least fifteen people full-time, and each season (i.e. twice a year) present a collection to the Paris press comprising at least thirty-five runs/exits with outfits for both daytime wear and evening wear. With demands such as this on attire, it is required that the accoutrements surrounding the presentation be of the utmost quality and high standards. The world’s elite models and those who style them are a necessity of this high fashion presentation. When Daniel was asked to be a stylist for the model’s hair, it was understood that he would be asked to manifest the wildly different and artistic looks that the designers had imagined. The pace is furious and can be quite stressful, meaning that only the most talented and well-tempered professionals could be involved.

Doyle was in Paris for five days to work this event. The shows he worked on included: 3rd July — Couturissimo — Orangerie Ephermere, Jardin des Tuileries Guo Pei — Bourse de commerce, July 5th — Julien Fournie — Oratorie de Louvre, 145 Rue Saint Honore, & July 6th — Ziad Nakad — Le Westin Paris. Daniel notes, “Of all the shows and venues my absolute favorite was the Temple Protestant de l’Oratoire du Louvre. This was the Julien Fournie show. The show was held in a beautiful church right in the heart of Paris. As soon as I walked in I was blown away by the sheer size and height of the building. You felt dwarfed as soon as you walked in. As I entered, they were doing a sound check. There was powerful and eerie music playing, which added to the dramatic effect of it all. I knew fashion week was a big deal but Haute Couture fashion week is the next level.”

What happens on the stage or catwalk at a fashion show has been seen repeatedly in real life as well as depicted in movies; the furor that happens behind the scenes is just as dramatic but rarely witnessed. Well before the show ever occurs, the head stylist (akin to a team leader) meets with each designer to come up with looks to augment and complement their creations. This stylist then meets with the team to come up with looks that are presented to said designer for approval or rejection. Daniel was hand-picked to be a stylist due to his skill and reputation. This type of scenario (fashion presentation) may be one of the most correlative examples of teamwork in the Arts. Just as in sports, the artists involved all share a certain portion of the success that the public sees. Just as an athlete must take care of their body, so does Doyle…albeit with a somewhat different approach. He confesses, “I try to take very good care of myself in regards to my diet and regular exercise. So on an average day I make sure I’m eating regularly and getting in my fruit and veg. This way of life however goes completely out the window when I’ve got an event as big as this one. I usually get by on sugar and huge amounts of caffeine. It’s a quick fix when you’re busier than usual. I can do it for a few days. There will be a few hours of work getting the models ready and then usually an hour or so before the girls do a walk through, a test run so to speak. This is the perfect opportunity to run over to the well-stocked buffet and grab some food. Before you know it the girls are back in your seat and you’ve not got long to finish off. This is when the energy and buzz intensifies as you’re working towards a very real deadline.”

Once the models are given a final once over and set out on the runway, Doyle and his fellow stylists are able to catch their breath and watch the astonished faces of the attendees as well as the designers. Being a stylist for an event such as this is almost a Zen exercise. The lavish and eccentric styles that Daniel creates will soon be brushed and washed out; proof that art is about the experience rather than the possession. While working the Paris Haute Couture Fashion week, Daniel made sure to take some free time to experience Paris. Early mornings that started with a strong coffee led to experiencing the beauty and history that is Paris. Remembering that young boy in Liverpool who pretended to cut hair, this man now standing in Paris is an example to all of us that achieving whatever dream you have is a real possibility.