Show-stopping presentations, incredible talent, some of the biggest names in Canadian and international beauty and over 1,000 attendees! The 34th Contessa Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Awards 2023 sure were grander and more glamorous than ever before.

After a virtual ceremony for the past two years, the Salon Magazine-produced, longest-running hairstylist awards made an in-person return this year. The gala took place on Sunday, November 20th, 2022, at the Westin Harbourfront Castle. And it was one heck of a celebration.

Contessa Awards 2022
via Contessa Awards

Incidentally, we were part of the celebration and here’s how the exciting night went down—

Some Background

For the uninitiated, Contessas are a highly regarded award event in the Canadian and international beauty industry. A celebration of excellence and creativity as they are, they recognize top talent in hair, colour, makeup and nails.

Entries to 24 coveted titles are evaluated by a panel of independent judges and industry experts on originality, creativity, technical execution and on-trend appeal. The quality of photography, makeup and wardrobe are also considered.

Contessa Awards 2022
via Contessa Awards

Talking about the awards, Veronica Boodhan, Editorial Director of Salon clarified, “the Contessa Awards are all about creativity and self-expression. It’s not always the popular or the safe look that wins because we are in an industry that is so creative.”

Setting the stage ablaze

The real action obviously happened on stage, thanks to enthralling presentations. First by Toronto-based hairstylist and multi-Contessa winner, Norm Wright. Then by two of the industry’s leading brands, Matrix and Wella Company.

The Wella presentation was a mix of three distinct groupings. Dana Lyseng, Wella Top Artist explains, “I wanted a show about unity and inclusivity. So, we started with a grouping of dark colours, moved to ethereal looks and finally to colourful ones. We wanted to show that everybody is beautiful.”

Contessa Awards 2022
via Contessa Awards

As for the Matrix presentation, it was all colour and drama, the fun kinds. Rodrigo Araneda, Artistic Director for Matrix Canada, wanted the show to be a reflection of his personality and it sure was.

“Matrix is a colourful company and so am I. I wanted to create something bright and fun. So, we took Contessa’s celebration theme and decided to celebrate three iconic hairstyles— ponytails, braids and Afro or texture. Together with my team I just wanted to create something fun,” Rodrigo quips.

Of Inspiring Collections

Talking about the awards as a creative platform, Lindsay Lorimer-Stewart, VP, Marketing and Branding at Chatters, said, “The value in hairstylists honing in on their craft, expressing themselves as artists and pushing the limits with creativity is unparalleled. At Chatters, our vision is to ‘create a world where beauty has no boundaries’ and I truly believe the nominees & award winners have conveyed this through their incredible creativity, passion, and hard work.”

And sure enough, the collections showcased exhibited incredible and unparalleled creativity. It was obvious that creativity triumphs in popularity at Contessa. Winner or not, each of the finalist entries lived up to the Contessa standard of creativity and originality. And each was an inspiring piece of art.

Bright coloured hair
via Contessa Awards

As Lyseng of Wella put it, “On this forum, I want to see something that’s different. I want to celebrate somebody who’s come up with something we’ve never seen before. It’s not trends, but creativity that blooms from this forum. When I go look at all the collections that are going to inspire me to go create something for myself.”

Trend Conclusion

At the beginning of the night, Veronica confidently claimed, “These hairstylists are on the pulse of new trends in the industry and the world. So, you’ll see trends emerging from the Contessas.” And we sure did!

Our takeaway— bold and bright colours will be the reigning hair trend for 2023. According to Lyseng, this is because “we are walking out of dark times.”

Bright Coloured Hair 2
via Contessa Awards

Rodrigo went on to support the bright colour trend but added, “We will see more colour blocking than bladed looks this year.” He also confirmed that volume and texture are making a grand return.  So, it might be time to put those flat irons away.

As if reading from the same trend book, Lindsay predicts, “You heard it here first; the modern shag will be the IT cut of 2023. This cut is the perfect way to embrace your natural wave/texture with the ability to heat style for a more polished look.” She further added, “The fringe is no longer for straight hair only. Set out to embrace your curls or coils with face-framing strands.”

As for hair colours, Lindsay assertively chimed in, “Brunettes are back! While copper continues to see popularity, 2023 is the year of the brunette. With a shade for every skin tone, we suggest working with your stylist to select the perfect hue for you.”

This trendy, creative and straight-up glamorous night is how the Contessa Awards 2023 marked their in-person return. And we have just one word for it — befitting!