Luca Vannella

For in-demand movie hairdresser Luca Vannella, a love and talent for styling seems to be genetic. Vannella grew up in his grandmother’s salon in Rome, where his dad also worked, and began embarking on his own career in hair at age 17. He then moved to London, where he attended Toni&Guy Academy, but soon found his way back to Italy to delve into the film industry. Today, Vannella is based back in London, where he has had a hand (and a comb) behind the scenes of many movies, such as Apocalypto (2006), War Horse (2011), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 & 2 (2010/2011) and the upcoming Thor 2. We spoke to Luca about his recent experience working as Hair Department Head on the set of Snow White and the Huntsman.

How did you research hair for this film?

Before starting a film, I do research on the historical period the film is based on. For this film, I then added a lot of fantasy to it to create a fairytale movie. The final looks in the movie are a result of a number of meetings with the film’s director and the costume designer. The actors’ thoughts are also very important because they have to feel comfortable with their characters.

Where did the inspiration for all the braids—seen on both Stewart and Theron—come from?

In that period, braids were very fashionable because they provided the easiest way to put hair up without any of the accessories we have today. Braids have always been trendy and have been used extensively in the movies throughout time. They can be traditional and period in character or creative and modern for up-to-date or futuristic productions. I also think braiding can be very creative and beautiful.

How did you choose the hairstyle for Kristen Stewart’s battle scene?

The battle look was initially Kristen’s idea. I tried to develop her vision, and we came out with braids on the sides and top of her head to create a rougher look. I think she looked very tough!

How was working with Stewart on set?

Working with her was great! She is funny and she gives you the time that you need to create her look because she really cares about her character.

What about the Evil Queen’s right-hand man, Finn? He has an interesting blonde bob with a cropped bang. Where did this concept come from?

I'm very proud of this look. It took us a long time to create it because we wanted something different, scare and cool at the same time. The inspiration came from a picture of a medieval monk with a bob. To make it more sinister, I convinced the actor to raise the hairline—to do that I had to shave his real hairline. He ended up having this strange look in his private life for six months. The final touch was to color his hair white-blonde like the queen.

How many other stylists were working with you on set to create these looks?

I had five people working with me to prep the cast. On days with a lot of the crowd, I had up to 50 hairdressers working for me.

What was a typical day like on set?

A typical day on set started very early, around 5 a.m., so that we had enough time to prep the actors before going to set. The days when the dwarfs were in scenes, we started at 3 a.m. because of all the prosthetics and difficult wigs. Once on set, because of all the action, we had to stand by with the actors and make sure they looked the same throughout the day. At the end of the day, we took the wigs off and cleaned and prepped them for the next day.

What is the process behind creating the Huntsman’s, dwarves’ and Snow White’s dirt-worn look?

The naturally worn in, dirty look is the most difficult look to achieve—it is very easy to take the dirt level too far, and the actors can end up looking as if someone made them dirty instead of looking like they just hadn't washed after running around in the woods. The dirt has to appear real whilst maintaining a beautiful and sexy look.

What’s involved in the hairstyles: extensions, wigs, color, dying?

To make a movie like this I had to use everything. For example, for the Huntsman’s look I used hair extensions and color; Finn had a cut and color; and the dwarfs and most of the other characters got wigs.

Who had the most time-consuming look?

The dwarfs had the most time consuming looks, as they each had very individual wigs which had to be then measured to fit the head prosthetics and then had to be applied very carefully. This meant we had many tests to create the final results.

After The Hunger Games was released, everyone was talking about Katniss’ trademark braid. Everyone wanted to recreate it. Do you feel braids are a big trend right now that will continue to evolve?

I think braids have always been trendy and have been used extensively in the movies throughout time. They can be traditional and period in character or creative and modern for up to date or futuristic productions.

What other hair trends do you think will be big on screen over the next few years?

Check out my next movie and you'll know!

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