When Iraj, a masterstylist speaks of hair and scalp, he comes across almost sounding scientific. He looks at hair as organic, sensuous as fur and with many of his clients, he always felt like they needed some psychological healing more than the sharp shearing.
“The consultation part of the process is paramount,” he says. “I need to know what the client is thinking or feeling. Was there something that inspired them to have their hair coloured or are their dramatic inclinations an act of rebellion.”
Weather creative or classic, Iraj approaches every shape and style with both precision and vision. To him watching a client’s eyes light up and watching how pleased they are, is immensely gratifying. “It’s amazing how a small change can make all the difference to how a person feels.” It’s literally what he says he lives for.
With such an ability to see beauty in his day-to-day work, it should come as no surprise that Iraj has loyal clients who’ve been coming to him for over 19 years. Despite moving to other salons, people still call him up to make appointments.
Iraj’s passion for hairdressing was developed at an early age. He was fresh out of school after his Ordinary Level Examination and wanted a job. But he wasn’t willing to settle for just about anything, he wanted to continue his family legacy by getting involved in the fashion industry.
What many may not know and Iraj doesn’t boast about is his last name. Iraj Toussaint is a decendent of Yvonne Gulamhusein. Yvonne was a celebrated fashion icon of yesteryear and a household name back in the 1940s. A socialite, she was known to attract attention wherever she went. Her grace, beauty and the manner in which she carried herself, made her one of the most photographed fashion icons of her days.
Iraj fortunately inherits this legacy. “I knew I wanted to do something in the same industry. Hairdressing just seemed to come naturally,” he said. Iraj began work at the Ramani Fernando Salon in 1996 and worked under the direct supervision of maestro of tresses Johann Peiris.
To-date Johann is both a mentor and friend whom Iraj proudly speaks off. Within a short span of time, Iraj went on to manage floors of large salons. “I thoroughly enjoyed the work I was doing. I was completely immersed in it and didn’t want to do anything different,” he said.
During the 11 years he spent working, Iraj helped out with photo shoots and backstage at fashion shows. But he enjoyed the eclectic atmosphere and the sense of teamwork indoors at the salon.
He took a break when he decided that he wanted to go solo and do something on his own. Starting a venture of this nature was not easy and Iraj knew well the time and effort he will need to invest. He worked at Capello Salon for a year before opening his own at his home in Mount Lavinia, a successful venture which he carried on with for nine years.
“After a while when the clientele keeps growing you begin to realize that it’s not so easy for everyone to make their way to Mount Lavinia just for a haircut,” he says adding that it made more sense for him to be easily available and accessible to clients as opposed to having them travel the distance to meet him.
Iraj currently works at MOSH Salon, situated at Ramada Colombo. “I enjoy the sense of team work and colouration that we have there,” he says adding that there’s joy when you find a team you can work easily with. He also has all the necessary resources at hand and can easily see clients at times that are convenient to them.
Whilst he treats each client as an individual, there is a common thread running through his work. Soft touchable hair, cut in a way that allows it to be styled in a variety of ways, is the goal. “Most times clients look at images of celebrities and try to imitate their look when in fact they have an innate style which they may not have discovered,” he says. “My job is to bring that out and make them feel good about how they look.”
When asked if he prefers to give men or women haircuts the most, he adds that he finds there to be no difference between the two. “Men are as just as demanding and particular these days,” he says. “They are as fussy and are usually specific about the style they like.”
When asked if there were moments where he disliked a particular cut or colour, he adds that such moments although rare would often torment him even the following day. “I would be thinking about it when I go home and sometimes I would call the client and tell them to come back just so I can feel satisfied with the work I’ve done.”
A perfectionist to the core, Iraj is a creative visionary who simply refuses to put the scissors down.