Behind the scenes at Brisbane Fashion Week 2022 (BFW22) in glitz and glam, Ben Wright is far from the dusty red streets of his home state of Queensland.
In the corner of a quirky little newspaper office on Mount Isa, he first pried open the pages of Vogue magazine and fell in love instantly.
“I think I was the only 14-year-old to buy Vogue on Mount Isa,” he laughs.
“I loved seeing the amazing hairstyles on those pages and dreamed of one day creating those styles and being part of that industry.
Since then, the 24-year-old has worked in Brisbane’s award-winning salons and successfully behind the scenes at fashion shows and shoots across the country, including Melbourne Fashion Week and Australian Fashion Week.
Wright remembers the moment he realized this was the world for him while preparing for his new role as BFW22’s hair director.
“It was my Nan who sent me to the hairdresser,” he said.
“I was always with her when school was off. She was always one of those fancy nanna’s. Whenever I was at the salon to get a perm, cut, color or blow dry, I would go with her.” I did.”
“I couldn’t take my eyes off what my hairdresser was doing. I was hooked.”
“Passion is contagious”
From an early age, he began cheekily telling his mother about the clothes she bought him.
“Ever since I was a child, I have loved fashion and always wondered what I was wearing.
“My mom must have stopped buying me clothes for Christmas when I was nine or ten because I refused to wear what she bought for me.”
As soon as he could, Mr. Wright walked into his favorite salon, the Capricorn Hair Studio on Mount Isa, and asked for a job.
Owner Michelle Donald still remembers that day.
“He said, ‘I want to be a hairdresser, that’s all I want to do and this is where I want to work. I’m happy to work for free if you take me on.’ she said.
“I said, ‘You don’t have to work for free,’ and that was it.
“He started work that Saturday. He was perfect and we bonded instantly. His enthusiasm and passion were contagious.”
From salon to backstage
Whether on set or in store, Wright’s greatest motivation comes from the people he works with.
“When you’re in a salon, you get that satisfaction from the little acts of making someone feel good, looking beautiful, and changing how people feel about themselves.
“When you see someone so happy when you leave the salon, that feeling stays with you.
“You can feel the adrenaline and excitement behind the scenes and on set. We work with so many different creatives in a fast-paced, exhilarating atmosphere.
“Ever since I started dancing competitively at Mount Isa, I have loved this feeling, it still sticks in my mind and is a big part of why I love my dance.”
As his career skyrocketed to the next stage, the 24-year-old encouraged others to join the industry.
“If you’re a little lost or intrigued about what the industry could be like, if you’re passionate about hair, you’ve got a natural creative talent, you’ve got people and energy. If you love the high environment, what’s happening in the world right now, this is the industry for you,” he said.
“Walk into your local salon, ask questions, and get your hands dirty. Even if it’s just for a day’s work experience, give it a try. It’s the best world in the world.”
For his first-time employer, his accomplishments come as no surprise.
“It never surprises me to read or hear about Ben’s success,” said Donald.
“He was destined for greatness. As a bush boy with big dreams, I am very proud to know that nothing held him back.”
Wright’s hair creations will hit the runway at BFW22, August 22-26.