Massimo Morello, Hair Director: Inside Elite Model Look

KEVIN.MURPHY Session Master Massimo Morello is Hair Director at the Elite Model Look World Final. Backstage, from the first day of Bootcamp right through to the Final Show, Massimo will be overseeing a team of hair stylists, making sure that their work is the same between each of the 63 Finalists for their photo shoots, video shoots, and for the final runway. We sit down with him to talk World Final and his job as hair stylist.

Tell us about the Word Final! What is your role?

I will make sure to the workflow keeps moving, to check the consistency and also to style some hair as well. I feel very lucky and honoured to lead this amazing team, as we been working together for many years, in many different fashion weeks and event around the world, and they are the best! When we’re together backstage, it’s always full of laughter and positive energy.

Some Finalists will get a new look when they arrive. Why is it important to restyle the Finalists?

The girls and the guys need to look at their best, and re-styling if needed is important to highlight the model face and features. Hair is the second thing that we look in a person, it’s like a frame for the paint. A nice paint with the wrong frame will not compliment the artist, same for the hair. As always, it is about team work, a conversation will be involved between the agency, the model and myself. I don’t like to force my point of view. My role is to give suggestions on what I think it will work well.

How did you become Hair Director with KEVIN.MURPHY?

At one point of my career, I decided to sell the salon that I had in Italy and move to Australia where I lived for almost 8 years, and that’s where I met the brand KEVIN.MURPHY and we started to work together. I always loved the fashion world and the company recognised that, and allowed me to have more and more space in that area. Another reason why I think I have the job I have is because I genuinely love to be surrounded by people and to share the what we call “KEVIN.MURPHY LOVE”. This is not just a job for me, it’s a lifestyle, and the people around me are not just colleagues but are my family.

Can you give us any clues how the Finalists will be styled for the Bootcamp – and for the Final Show?

The World Final is all about the models, everything should rotate around that. It’s not about complicated hair that would distract from what they look like. The idea is to work with the natural hair and texture of the models, and make the most out of it.  However, the real trick is that sometimes making “natural” hair is the most difficult thing to do, because as soon as you start working on the hair with hot tools, hair starts looking too “done”, and that’s where KEVIN.MURPHY help us with the products! For the show all I can say that it will be the time to “shine"!

What does your job involve day-to-day?

On a day to day, my focus is mostly around the fashion area. I direct fashion shows during different fashion weeks, this year alone I had the honour to direct something like 150 shows all round. On top of this, I’m doing shows on stage where I showcase all the hairstyles and the products used in the backstage that I was involved. I am involved in photoshoots as well, and I love it! I just came back from South Africa where we had a massive photoshoot with all our clients from all over Europe and the outcome was amazing! The main idea in my job is to let the world see how this brand and the people that rotate around it is so special and unique, it’s really about to show that this is a fabulous industry full off creativity, with a human touch.

You also have a role in educating – can you tell us about what that is about?

I train the hair stylists’ educators that work with us, to give them the contents and the tools to be successful in every class they will do. Then their job is to educate the stylists all around the world. One example that I’d like to tell you about is what we call “TRAIN.ME”. Every year, we gather our educators from Europe and Asia, we stay in the same location for 4 days, and there we teach, learn, share, laughs and get ready for our job. When I started working with the brands 8 years ago we had 20 people in that room, now we are 100 people from all over the world, and this is simply amazing.  At the same time, I train in one of my favourite class that is called BEHIND.THE.SCENES and in that 2 day-class, I show all I know about the backstage world.

You trained to be a hair stylist with your dad – why did you want to become a hair stylist?

I am the third generation of hairdresser in my family - you can imagine what we were all talking about sitting at the dinner table! My grandpa used to have his salon in our family house, literally next door to the kitchen, when Grandma was cooking food for all the family, and my dad’s salon was 150 meters from our house. For me growing up and seeing hair around me was a natural thing, and I think I never ever wanted to do anything else, it almost felt like destiny. I like people, and I like to create a hairstyle that compliments the person that I have in front of me. I always joke about it and say that if I was not a hairdresser I would be a chef as I love cooking and eating, and not only Italian food. 

What’s the best thing about your job? What’s the biggest challenge?

I feel privileged to know so many down to heart and super talented people. I’ve been working as a hairdresser and stylist for 27 years, and since I joined this “family”, I keep saying that I am where I’m supposed to be. I love to travel and see different cultures and people, traditions and colours, food and habits, and all this expand my point of view in different areas specially the creativity. The challenge is the constant unknown, we have to make decisions very quickly and sometimes it is not easy to have the right answer at your fingertips. When I got the moodboard from a designer, I always take that seriously, as a designer puts 6 months of work on the line for that 10 minute-catwalk, and my challenge is to make sure to give the best hairstyle that follows the brief and compliments the collection. The sky is the limit!

If someone reading this wants to become a hair stylist, what steps should they take?

Baby steps. Everything moves really fast and when it comes to work (especially with people) you need to give yourself the time to understand if that’s really what you want. The best way is to get out there, spread the word around, go to a photographer and ask them to call you if they need a hairdresser for a campaign for a local shop, get involved with a brand like ours that works in the session industry. In the beginning of my career, I remember that I just wanted to be on set and every time I got the chance I was blunt enough to ask “can I come over and help out?” I was taking time off at weekends, like every other job, you need to be ready to sacrifice your time, and the more effort you put in, the better result you will see. Be patient and take small steps, you need to be sure that you absolutely love this job.

What’s the best career advice you ever got?

Always do what you scared to do! Sometimes you have two roads in front of you, one is the “comfortable zone”, the one that is more natural for you because you know how to do it all. The other one is a big question mark, and you might get to a point where you don’t have the answer. I always try to get into the biggest challenges and most of the time I learned something new out of it.


I want to tell you another “best” career advice that I got, and this is: when you wake up in the morning, think if you are happy about what you do and why you do what to do. Life brought me in different directions and to different countries and even my family was not on my side with all my decisions. I remember my dad’s face when I told him that I wanted to sell my salon and move to the other side of the world with barely no English! But I always followed that little voice inside me that was guiding me to do what I really wanted to do. If you wake up every day and you are happy about what you do, and love the people that work with you, well, I think you are in a very good place!

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