From that point on, Souleiman has worked seemingly nonstop for the world’s top designers and magazines, often with high-profile friends and collaborators Craig McDean and Pat McGrath. He has delicately placed butterflies amongst curls at Alexander McQueen, plastered down greasy swirls of hair at Thom Browne, and created delicate mesh head sculptures for i-D. In Souleiman’s portfolio, hair swoops and contorts in inconceivable fashion, becoming a medium for real art. The man is an absurd talent.
Souleiman recently told Dazed that he doesn’t work for people “who want a ponytail,” and indeed his work is always fantastical. “I didn’t love my reality,” he added, “so I created my own.”
O — How would you describe what your own hair looks like right now? You’ve changed your hair a lot. Do you have a preferred style these days?
ES—For me it is hair about convenience. Sadly, I’m receding. I’ve come to terms with it and wear my hair completely back, and I love the look of my hairline. It’s very retro, Bela Lugosi. I’ve been through so many hairstyles now. Instead of hairstyles for me, I’m into a hat! I love a good hat!
O—Growing up in East London, what sparked your interest in artistic expression?
ES—Straight up, it would be punk. [But] I’ve always been interested in art. My earliest recollection was being an 8-year-old child drawing and writing my own comics that were Marvel and DC-inspired. Love a superhero!
O—Could you tell me a bit about how you got your start? What lead to your apprenticeship with Trevor Sorbie?
ES—The manager where I was working asked me, “Why are you working here?” She told me to walk around the corner and ask for a job at Trevor Sorbie, a very well-noted salon.
O—I’ve read that you began working with Sorbie in 1982. What kind of styles did you like to do in the ‘80s? What was the big difference between working then and now?
ES—The ‘80s for me were a very free time, creatively. I did lots of avant-garde hair looks and did trade shows.