Renya Xydis is the owner and creative director of hairstyling salons across Sydney such as Valonz, Salon X and Renya Xydis City. Among her clients are Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts, Toni Collette, Miranda Kerr and Hugh Jackman. Having spent almost 30 years in the industry, Xydis is recognised as one of Australia’s most successful and sought-after hair stylists in fashion. When Xydis is not in her salon or with her celebrity clients, the mother of two is working on editorial fashion shoots for Australian and international magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and working on runway shows locally and internationally. In time for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia, which begins today at Carriageworks in Eveleigh, I caught up with Xydis to talk about her week ahead, coming hair trends and the celebrities she turns down.
What does Fashion Week entail for you?
I’ve got seven shows. The last few weeks we had all the meetings with every designer and went through what they want, their vision. Last week were all the trials and [this] week is Fashion Week. In between I’m in the salon working or out shooting for magazines. After work I go home to be a mum and wife. So it’s good. It’s a lot of fun.
When it comes to hair on the runway, do designers tell you what they want or is it a collaboration?
The designer chooses a stylist and the stylist basically puts the whole vibe [of the show] together. The designers are the ones who designed the collection and are the ones that we’re working for but the stylist takes it on board to come up with the aesthetics. So they’ll say, “Renya, this is what I want with hair”… then to the makeup artist he will say “this is what I want with makeup”. And then we collaborate. Then the three of us present that to the designer. So we do two looks and then we choose one of the looks.
What are some of the spring/summer hair trends that people will be seeing at Fashion Week?
Plaiting is a big thing. Structural hair is also big. But then I’m also doing beautiful sultry hair, like sort of sexy effortless hair, which every woman wants. So when the woman comes down the cat walk you go, “Oh, I love the hair.”
What do you love about Australian Fashion Week?
I love the fashion. I’m so proud to wear Aussie designers. It’s very rare you’ll see me in international designers.
You create hair for international runways and covers of leading magazines. Where do you find your inspiration?
That’s the easiest thing because I’ve got this great space at home. When I’ve got an idea in my head I will draw it and I’ll go straight to my dollie head and do it.
You have become “the” celebrity hair stylist. How did that happen?
I think I did Nicole [Kidman] when she was 16 after BMX Bandits, and I did her for the cover of Bride To Be magazine. So I think I got the bug then. But it started off as just hairdressing for me. I just worked really hard. I worked in a salon that did editorial. I didn’t even know what [editorial] was until that one day when my boss sent me to do Nicole. But then you get the bug and then I was constantly pushing toward the editorial side. Then I had my children and I gave it up for 10 years.
How did you get back into it?
I started my salon [Valonz] in Paddington, you just got cool walk-ins. I remember someone like Johnny Diesel came in one day and Ian Thorpe was one of my clients. And then I got an agent and then I had great people like Toni Collette, Miranda Otto and David Wenham all supporting me. Then you go to Paris and you work on the shows. Then you get to do the press junkets with Heidi Klum, Joel Madden and then you just get to work with Cate Blanchett at the Oscars. It’s like a domino effect.
So, does Cate Blanchett just call you up and say, “Come to the Oscars with me?”
Well, last time I worked with her before the Oscars she said, “Would you like to?” “Yes,” I said, “I’ll go anywhere you want me to go. If you want me to go to Alaska I’ll go there for you.” I just love that woman so much. But yeah, she asked me and I went “Yes.”
Who are the most interesting people you’ve styled hair for?
Bono. Like I was like shaking … because it was Bono. He has just got this aura of power. I love Hugh Jackman, Deborra-Lee Furness, and then meeting Mr Valentino – when he came up to me and said, “I love this hair.”
Do you ever turn down celebrities?
Oh god, yes! Because you just know the type of … You know the weird ones to say ‘No’ to. You just go, “Oh, I’m not ready for that yet.” I really want to be happy when I work. I don’t want to have to struggle with their emotions.
Who have you had to say ‘No’ to?
I can’t say but every day I want to come to work and just put a smile on my face. I’m 50 now. I don’t want to have to struggle making someone happy.
When you were young did you always envisage your life the way it is today?
No, never. I grew up in Maroubra and I just wanted to get out of school. I wanted to be a cartoonist. I wanted to draw until my dad said, “You cannot.” Dad and mum wouldn’t pay for me to do a cartooning course. So I did hairdressing instead.
What’s the secret to your success?
Just being happy. Look, I’m not always happy, I get sad, and I get exhausted. But then I see my boys when I get home and we just have a family dinner. I know it sounds “whatever” but, seriously, my boys make me really happy. I go home to three beautiful men and I’m just like … I’m theirs and I love it. My family is the world for me.
Will your boys follow in your footsteps?
One is a barber, the other one is a physiotherapist.
If you could do anyone’s hair who would it be? Monica Bellucci or Sophia Loren in the 60s.
WE WENT TO Miss Frou Frou, Paddington.
WE DRANK Herbal tea.
I WORE a Isabel Marant jacket.
photo: James Alcock