Hair & Beauty

Close Encounter | Dmitri Papas, Papas & Pace

By Louise Martin-Chew
21st Aug 2013

Dmitri Papas is proprietor of renowmed Brisbane hairdresser, Papas & Pace with business partner, Justin Pace. As the son of legendary Brisbane hairdressers, Stelios Papas and Sophie Papas, this is as close as Brisbane gets to a hairdressing dynasty. Papas & Pace work from a slick Ann Street studio, designed by charismatic architectural duo, Richards and Spence. TUL had a selectively close shave with Dmitri recently (the tightness of the hair cut balanced by Dmitri's frankness and charm). 

TUL: Your father, Stelios Papas, has had a salon since 1970 and your mother, Sophie Papas was an intrinsic part of the planning for Papas&Pace. What pressures do family successes apply to you personally and professionally?

Following in the footsteps of my mother and father is a responsibility I take seriously. Tragically, my mother passed away soon after we opened the business, yet I feel her presence within me everyday. Without Sophie I would not be where I am and this drives my passion to succeed, not just in business but, more importantly, as a human being. Family is everything to me.

TUL: You are Brisbane-based but driven by international and national trends. Can you describe your professional journey?

From an early age it felt like my destiny to be part of the profession. My father's flair and my mother's business acumen took me into the artistic and commercial aspects of hair. I trained under Benny Tognini (who had trained with my parents) and learnt from the best without any advantages or privileges. This catapulted me into the world of hairdressing, opening my eyes to the broader canvas. I understood that art, photography, architecture, and design are at the heart of hairdressing.

TUL: The Master Classes you offer nationally for Goldwell are very popular! What do you offer students that they may not get from others?

I encourage students to visualise the scope of what hairdressing may be, and the unique identity they may forge. Skills are important, and these we cover, but a healthy dose of the cultural impact of the vision of hairdressing is equally influential. It is the big picture!

TUL: What observations would you make about the Australian hair industry?

Sydney and Melbourne are not the influence they might have been in previous decades. For inspiration I am more likely to look to Berlin, New York, London, Tokyo (all central to the international art and design worlds). Here in Brisbane we punch well above our weight! Having said that, I see great work being done by Sydney studio, Shane Hennings - Noddy's on King, Renya Xydis - Valonz, and Jane Wilde's – Wildlife Salon, and in Melbourne I would direct people to Joey Scandizzo Salon, or Frank Apostolopoulos's - Biba

TUL: Hair Expo is the annual event that drives hairdressing in Australia. Held in Sydney on the June long weekend, what trends did you observe this year?

As the national industry expo, Hair Expo is as much about the business of hairdressing as about the art. Technology sees our business model evolving but possibly less than other industries—at the heart of it, people still need to come in and sit in a chair to have their hair cut! I am enjoying the trend to asymmetry and daring—in contemporary art at the moment there is a lot of 'outsider' influence. This year's hairdressing awards went to focused individual visions that looked away from the conventional.

TUL: What should everyone look for in a hairdresser?

First and foremost is trust. You should be able to communicate freely so that they have a thorough understanding of your needs. Secondly, align yourself with someone that has good style and is not 'styled'. Remember, they complement your style. I explain to new clients that they are the conductor and I am their leading man. We work together throughout the process.

TUL: How much is too much when it comes to what we pay for quality hair?

Everyone needs to be paid for quality work. If you visit a professional of high standing, you have expectations of the service they will provide and their costs to deliver that service. It is no different in the hairdressing industry where the most creative and technically advanced hairdressers are rewarded for their work. It's easy to forget that top hairdressers are continuously training and updating their skills and knowledge.

TUL: What is the best advice meted out to you in your journey? 

My mother instilled in me that my greatest investment was in myself, so I learn and do as much as I can—no matter what it costs. My step dad, Peter Beiers, taught me to push hard and never settle for anything less, and to follow my instinct and believe in myself! And, as Vidal Sassoon said, 'the only place success comes before work is in the dictionary'.  

TUL: How do you keep staff motivated and keen to push the limits of their skill set?

We have joint weekly training sessions and creative nights where we encourage everyone to really step outside their boundaries. As a team, we visit galleries, restaurants, films, and the theatre—inspiration should come from anywhere, and what keeps us at the forefront of hairdressing is making sure we create a synergy between the art, design, fashion, and hairdressing world. I tell them if they want to be the best they have to train to be the best!

TUL: What are your favourite Brisbane haunts? Eateries, fashion, food, training?

For inspiration my first stop is The Gallery Book Store at GOMA for an amazing selection of art, fashion, music, design books, and gifts. Folio Books in the city also have a great selection. 

My training haunts are many and various. A few highlights include Function Well Gym, Newstead, Kingy's Personal Training Studio, Fortitude Valley, Fortitude Boxing Club, Newstead, and Brisbane Boxing, West End and Mt Gravatt.

We are spoilt for choice in Brisbane when it comes to food. Breakfast favourites are Cirque in New Farm, Harveys, Fortitude Valley, and the Crosstown Eating House, Woolloongabba. If I'm out to lunch, Sage, in the city is great Monday to Friday. Mizu is casual Japanese in the city during the week, and for Sunday lunch with the family, Beccofino in Teneriffe. Dinner at Moda, in the city, is a world-class experience. Enoteca, Woolloongabba, has the best pasta in Brisbane and I love ducking into Canvas bar for a wine beforehand. Then there's The Euro and Urbane (city), both great for a fancy or casual meal. The Laneway is atmospheric after work. I also love e'cco in the city—a classic Brisbane institution that is fantastic without fail. 

TUL Note: Louise Martin-Chew is co-director of mc/k art (with Alison Kubler), and a freelance curator and art writer. She is currently working on a project for UQ Art Museum and has an Australia Council grant to write about the most recent work produced by Torres Strait Islander artist, Dennis Nona.

Image credit: Louise Martin-Chew

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