As we’re sure many of you know, here at Manic Panic we live and breathe vibrant hair in all colours, shapes and sizes! We love inspiring you all through colour and encouraging as many as we can to unleash their rainbow and express their true selves. Ensuring this encouragement is carried out in as many ways as possible from the Manic Panic brand, it’s so important that the people that represent us stand for the same outlook.
Manic Panic UK ambassador, Verity Clarke is all about colour and that’s pretty obvious whether you’re taking your first look at her Instagram profile or her own hair! Known for her eccentric and vibrant styling choices, Verity just had to be part of the Manic Panic family.
It has always been apparent how hard Verity has worked within her career, and we are so pleased that we can now share with you all her latest accomplishment, Strange and Unusual.
Shot in October 2021 and released in April 2022, Strange and Unusual is a collaborative project from Verity Clarke and Paul Devlin. Paul Devlin, owner of Devros-Barbers in Barrow, is an award-winning barber with a superb talent for clipper art. Luckily for us, the two of them quickly noticed their shared passion for unique creativity and have produced a wonderful collection of looks that perfectly display their talents!
We’ve been lucky enough to ask Verity some questions regarding the collaboration and how the idea came about in the first place.
Could you tell us a little bit more about where the idea came from to create the Strange and Unusual collection?
After meeting on a previous shoot, Paul and I discovered a shared love for going ‘all in’ and breaking the mould. Our work stood out to each other massively – I loved Paul’s clipper work and his dedication to costuming, and he loved my colour work, hair styling and costuming, plus we just got on really well and had some awesome banter. Something just clicked.
Both being inspired by pop culture and things out of the ordinary, we talked about creating a collaborative shoot that would highlight both of our creative sides. The concept needed to incorporate my talent for colour work and styling and also Paul’s love for clipper design work. After throwing multiple ideas around, we began chatting about Edward Scissorhands and what an icon he was for hairdressers and barbers. We both really wanted to create a shoot that involved him as inspiration, so we ran with the theme.
We can see the concept of the shoot is heavily influenced by Tim Burton, how do you think this was beneficial when it came to showcasing and portraying your work in its best light?
Well spotted! We drew inspiration from the weird & wonderful characters and settings of Tim Burton movies. The aim was to capture the colourful individuality but maintain the dark undertones of each character in every shot - with our own unique twist of course! The characters are all very strange in themselves but very much open to interpretation, which allowed us to put our own spin on things.
Covering this concept gave us a platform to highlight the strengths in each of our work. We used Paul’s geometric clipper design work personalised to each character to project the theme of the movies onto the character’s heads, and the abstract colours and shapes of the characters and settings allowed me to have some fun with colour and hairstyling. Choosing these characters also meant that we could use both male and female models and create a variety of very different looks that united together as a collection.
Do you have a favourite look that you created in this collection, and why does it stand out so much for you?
Verity: That’s a tough one – they’re all so different! But for me it’s a tie between Corpse Bride and Beetlejuice, for very opposite reasons.
The Corpse Bride look was a real labour of love that overall took months to create – the dress, headpiece and gloves were handmade and hand painted. The colour on both the model’s hair and extensions took hours; not to mention the time it took to do the makeup and all of those tiny curls on the day. However, seeing it all come together with Andy’s (photographer) amazing post-production skills was 100% worth it.
In contrast to the stunningly subtle colours and hours of prep for Corpse Bride, we’ve got Beetlejuice. The vibrant, wacky colours suit the character perfectly. Although the outfit was aged & distressed by hand, it took a lot less prep. And I’m going to let you into a little secret – I absolutely winged this hairstyle on the day! We had a model with completely different hair lined up, but she went down with covid the day before. As we didn’t have time to source a new model and removing the look from the collection was the last thing we wanted to do, I decided the best course of action was to perform a quick turn-around on the Joker. I quickly coloured and packed some green extension pieces, and once we’d shot the Joker look I brushed the model’s hair out, added this in and backcombed the ’bejesuz’ out of it! Once the backcombing was finished, we all loved it stuck out all crazy, so I perfected the shape slightly and left it at that. This was the perfect example of less is more – although I don’t advise using this approach on purpose, it’s hella stressful!
Paul: Although I love every shot in the collection I have to say the Mad Hatter is my favourite look. The big coloured hair, sharp beard and pattern work seem to come together flawlessly, I love the costume and I feel as though the whole shot just blends. It shows a perfect blend of both of our skills in colour, barbering and styling.
When you came up with this collaboration was there a particular message you wished to get across to viewers?
I think the message was to be as creative and as “outside of the box” as possible. As hair professionals, we all stand behind our chairs and cater to our customers’ needs day-in day-out, but being able to step outside our comfort zones and tune into our most creative/artistic side is challenging but equally as rewarding.
We did want to show a united front between hairdressing and barbering. Often the two sides of the industry are very segregated or have a bit of a ‘rivalry’, but we all do hair. There’s plenty of different techniques and viewpoints on ‘the right way’ to do things from both sides, but by collaborating and playing to each other’s strengths we not only creating some really great looks, but have also learned a lot from each other.
Although it wasn’t exactly the message we set out to get across, I think we showed that community is a million times better than competition. Also that Strange & Unusual can be beautiful.
We love that you’ve used Manic Panic colours in each of your looks. Do you think our products were a good fit for this collection?
Absolutely! The vast range of colours, from toners and pastels to deep blues, reds and purples, all the way through to UV brights, gave me a great palette to work with to create every single look. The versatility of being able to mix the colours together to customise them to each character meant I could have ultimate creativity and freedom to personalise the colours just how I wanted them.
My looks and ideas are often ‘too much’ for other brands, but Manic Panic embraces the wild and the outrageous. It’s great to work with a company that gets you and your vibe.
Finally, considering how incredibly creative all of these looks are, do you have any more exciting plans coming up in the future that you can share with us or is it all top secret?
Now you’re asking… We’re definitely going to be collaborating again and we actually started chatting about and conceptualising our next shoot on the set of this one! It’s very much still in the Pinterest stage right now – but we’ve definitely got a whole lot more weirdness left to share with the world. Watch this space… the only hint I can give you is: It might just blow our last collection out of the water.
A big thank you to Verity for speaking with us about this absolutely fantastic collaborative collection between herself and Paul Devlin. We are in complete awe of the talents of these stylists and we cannot wait to see what the future brings for the two of them!
You can check out more work from both Verity and Paul on their Instagram pages: