The Final Cut with Darcy O'Neill

Darcy O'Neill on mentors, motivation and the move to Munster

The London years
I started my career at the Morris School of Hairdressing in Piccadilly Circus while living in London in the 1960s. This was a hugely influential era with industry icon Vidal Sassoon starting to make an impact in London and later worldwide. I moved to Dublin to work with the Witches Hut and three years later I was offered the opportunity to manage the newly opened Witches Hut in Cork.

Darcy O'Neill

Munster bound
In 1978 I established my own salon, Darcy’s Design Team in Cork city, employing a team of five. This has grown to a team of twenty-seven and in 2005, a second salon, Darcy’s D2, opened in Ballincollig.

Seasonal changes
Autumn is my favourite time: hair and clothes change and we move away from the fade of summer. Haircuts and colours, just like clothes, take on a different meaning. Autumn would not be autumn without a trip back to London, the best hairdressing city in the world, and Salon International for inspiration.

Loving the look
The Coupe Savage took us away from the heavy structure of the geometrics. It created softer outlines and hair became more tousled, almost shaggy: scrunching was about to be born. The Fire Fly, created in the late 70s by Trevor Sorbie at Vidal Sassoon was a masterful haircut combining short and long hair. This cut can be adapted for use on a high percentage of our daily salon clients.

Red alert
Working in the Witches Hut in the 70s I was wearing a full beard - like the guys of today - with plenty of red coming through which I didn’t  like. Our then colourist Hugh Campbell mixed some colour and left it on a shelf for me to apply later when I was finished my clients. I applied the lot, sat in the staff room with a newspaper up to my face until it developed. Rinsed it off, looked in the mirror. Shock horror – my ginger beard was Blue Black! I was like Fidel Castro gone wrong. I later discovered one of my fellow stylists had made up a different colour and switched the bowls.

Influential icons
Vidal Sassoon and Toni&Guy. Individuals whom I have admired are Irvin Rusk, Tony Rogers and Robert Chambers.

The highlights
Spending a day at Grosvenor House in London with Roger Thompson, Vidal Sassoon’s first International Creative Director. Beverley Sassoon flew in that morning from New York to have her hair cut by Roger, and I was lucky enough to be shadowing him for that day. It was an experience never to be forgotten. Some will remember Beverley was a stunning looking woman and wore her hair in a short crop: what a haircut and how she carried it. Some of the household names of today, the young guns then, were in awe of Roger at work on Beverley’s hair.
Roger Thompson was a gifted hairdresser.

The lowlights
A lack of passion and commitment from some of the younger people coming into the industry is an issue. Finding motivation I still get immense satisfaction and pleasure from doing good haircuts and also seeing the excellent work produced by our team of creative young people.