Most days, you’ll find Bradford Holshouser cutting and coloring hair in the Myers Park salon he owns, teaching hair color techniques to stylists – or singing as a bass-baritone with Opera Carolina.
But on Monday, he’ll be on one of the world’s largest hairstyling stages, competing (as the only stylist from the Southeast) in the North American TrendVision hair competition in Las Vegas.
Holshouser, who was raised in Statesville, earned his stripes in the beauty, fashion and music world with two bachelor’s degrees, one in clothing and textiles (fashion design) from UNC Greensboro, and another in vocal performance from NC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. He worked in the beauty and fashion departments for McCall’s Magazine in New York in the 1990s before coming back to North Carolina in 2000 for cosmetology school and to launch the next phase of his career.
He opened his own salon, Beaux Art Salon, on Providence Road in 2005 and in addition to singing with Opera Carolina, assists with makeup and wigs for the opera as part of the design team. He’s also employed by hair color company Wella as a trainer for salons across the Southeast.
To make it to Monday’s competition, which is sponsored by Wella, Holshouser had to beat out more than 1,200 entries. He’s one of 21 contestants in three categories, and will be competing against six others in the “creative vision” category.
Holshouser entered the contest in May, coloring model Anastasia King’s hair with hues of rose gold, silver and platinum (the 2016 theme he has to work with is “molten metals”) and creating a multifaceted, partial up-do using balls of poly-fill (think teddy bear stuffing).
He says he drew inspiration from metal sculptures he studied in galleries, parks and photographs worldwide. He entered the contest with photos taken by local photographer Josiah Reed.
He colored King’s hair again before leaving for Las Vegas, and once the event starts on Monday, he’ll have three hours to style her hair. (It will actually be 2 hours and 15 minutes, he says.)
Then he’ll do her makeup, painting her face, neck and hands silver to maximize the molten metals theme. (He says he may be the only competitor who also does his model’s makeup.) Once King is dressed, she’ll take the catwalk with him in front of the judges.
First-place winners will be part of the Wella design team for New York Fashion Week in September, Holshouser says, and will advance to the international stage of competition, in Berlin.
This isn’t Holshouser’s first time at the TrendVision contest: Last year, he competed in the color category, spending all day dyeing model Caroleen Towery’s hair in front of judges, then styling it the next day before winning the “audience pick” award.
“That’s one thing I want to make sure that I always do with my creations – to make sure they’re still pretty and beautiful. Some (other stylists’ creations) are kind of more avant garde, but they’re not necessarily beautiful,” Holshouer said. “I want them to be something beautiful to look at.”