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A Hair Affair with Gareth Bromell

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A Hair Affair with Gareth Bromell

Hair stylist and Castleconnell native, Gareth Bromell moved to London when he was just a teenager to embark on a career move that would change his life. In just a few years he would find himself working on blockbuster sets, brushing shoulders with the biggest names in modelling and partying with Taylor Swift herself. Gareth currently works as an Editorial session hairdresser, working on site at Fashion Weeks in Paris, Milan and New York, as well as styling for magazine covers such as Vogue, ELLE and Harper’s Bazaar along with his other business venture HENSHĪN, a sustainable concept hair and make-up beauty bar, based in Castletroy Shopping Centre. 

We caught up with Gareth in one of his recent visits home for a chat in the upstairs area of Limerick’s cosy Red Hen bar. It was hard to imagine this was LA’s most sought after hair stylist; a man so remarkably down to earth and grounded, still possessing the undeniable trace of his Limerick accent. We first asked about the reality of culture shock as a Limerick native living in the heart of LA: “I come from Castleconnell which is a tiny village beside the River Shannon,” He begins, “and then I’m in Malibu at some actor’s house or onset of a movie or TV show or Vogue photoshoot. It’s all very surreal, I have to pinch myself sometimes. I always try and bring it back down and not to lose my head, I mean, it’s only work at the end of the day.” 

“I don’t really get intimidated by those people.” Bromell explains when asked if he’s built up an immunity to the glam life of LA and its icons, “At the end of the day, these people are all human beings and we’re all the same. We just work in different fields, different avenues. But have I ever been Starstruck? I was once when I saw Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac on a dance floor in a disco club in L.A. Naomi Campbell was there and other celebrities were there, but when I saw Mick Fleetwood, that’s when I got starstruck.” 

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 The curiosity was insurmountable, begging me to ask for the full repertoire of clients and collaborators, encouraging an explosion of name-dropping — a habit he seemed to be consciously avoiding until then. In a subtle attempt at appeasing this curiosity, we asked Gareth for his favourite and most charming celebrity encounters: “Taylor Swift was really lovely. She’s a lovely, lovely girl.”  

In 2016, Bromell made headlines for creating the iconic post-breakup shag style for the pop-star. The stylist also worked as a stylist for the past two Avengers films with Iron Man himself, “Robert Downey Jr. is very funny and very personable. He’s quite a character.” The list goes on and we have no intentions of stopping him anytime soon, each name more impressive than the one before. Bromell also includes several elite names in the fashion industry who he has had the pleasure of collaborating with; from models like Bella Hadid to highly-regarded, fashion photographers, “When it comes to photographers, I’ve been on set with 

Peter Lindbergh and David Sims who are enormous fashion photographers and to be on set with those kinds of people is amazing.” 

For Bromell, this truly remarkable career had an unexpected beginning in a field so far-removed from the one which he currently resides in: “I never really wanted to be a hairdresser. I wanted to be a chef and at the age of thirteen — which was very young,” Bromell notes. “I started working in hotel kitchens after school. I got accepted into Limerick Senior college at a younger age than I should have been. I was turning sixteen when I started there to do their catering course.”  

Forced to leave following several incidents of bullying and an overall lack of interest, Bromell was introduced to a hairdresser in Limerick’s iconic Hugh Campbell’s where he was offered a job, paving the way for a long, successful career in the industry. 

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While he began working in salons, Bromell’s current line of work is another world entirely: “It’s more creative.” He explains, “When I do photoshoots for magazines and stuff like that we come up with a story, we create characters. There’s a lot more creative freedom when it comes to what I do with the photoshoots and stuff like that.” Bromell talks us through the finer details using one of his most recent and favourite projects to date: “I did an ad campaign there recently for BCBG Max Azria which is a big, young girls’ brand in LA and I had a lot of creative freedom in how we made the model look and the story of the model. I got a surprise then when I saw that whole ad campaign up on a billboard in Times Square, that definitely has to be a highlight.” 

With an established career as a stylist, extensive list of A-List clients and an ad campaign featured in Times Square, we were surprised to hear that one of Bromell’s greatest and proudest achievements to date was carried out here in Limerick City just before our interview: “Today I got to give a lecture to 70 youths. I was in LIT for a charity, an Irish charity called Foróige and for me to be able to share my experiences of my youth and my troubles — which I turned into something positive and I’ve gone on to have a great career, and to be able to go back and talk to those kids and help them, that would be a huge highlight in my career.” 

Gareth Bromell shares his story | Limerick Mental health Week 2019

“Being an Ambassador is really important to me because it’s about sharing, and I think what I learned through my journey was that sharing is key.”Limerick Mental Health Week Ambassador and world renowned hairstylist, Gareth Bromell, shares his journey through depression and mental health issues, helping us to highlight our theme this year: suicide prevention ? #LimerickMHWwww.limerickmentalhealth.ieLimerick Mental Health Week 2019

Posted by Limerick Mental Health Association on Thursday, September 12, 2019

 

As mentioned previously, while growing up in Limerick, Bromell fell victim to cruel incidents of bullying that forced him to quit school and eventually start a new life in London. “Growing up in Limerick was hard for me, to be honest. From a very young age I was always one of the quieter ones. I wore geeky glasses and kind of stood out from the crowd; blonde hair, blue glasses. I was bullied a lot and I found that very difficult when growing up, even in the years after I left school, I was finding it really hard to accept who I was. I met a couple of mentors in Limerick before I 

left for London and with their influential guidance in my life, it made me a more realised person in accepting myself as an individual.” 

“For me when I was younger, being bullied all the time, I had a couple of suicide attempts. The pressure went on until right before I left Limerick. The last time when it happened, I was really low and my parents were really struggling too. It’s so sad for parents to see their kids suffer while they can’t do anything about it. For me, I had to take that dark time and turn it into light, to take responsibility of myself as an individual, to try and get better myself. And I did, all of those situations have become kind of confidence builders for me. They’ve made me a stronger person.” 

Gareth took these negatives and shaped them into an inspiring and motivating lecture for the young people of Limerick who share his struggle, reaching out to them and sharing his own personal experiences. “My career has gone from moving to London, not knowing anybody, to moving to California, not knowing anybody and then to New York,” he explains with pride in his voice. “It’s all built to me accepting myself for who I am and being confident with my individuality as a person. With all of that, I look at the mental health issues and encourage people, as difficult as it is, to talk to someone and not to internalise it. Don’t let people berate you and segregate you.” 

Finally, I ask Gareth what he missed most about his home: “I miss the people, my home, Limerick City, I miss it all.” He answers almost immediately, “I love  coming home. It’s an amazing country and amazing city. Culturally, I really didn’t anticipate that things would be so different when I moved to America, but it really is different. We’re a very special bunch of people here in Ireland and especially in Limerick. It’s a wonderful place to come from.” 

Gareth is ambassador for Limerick Mental Health Awareness and is nominated for multiple awards at this years image.ie beauty business awards, you can vote for him and the HENSHĪN brand here: https://bob.image.ie/voting/ 

Interview by: Christine Costello 

Follow Gareth’s Story on Instagram @garethbromell 

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