Chopra gives us a fascinating insight into her world of
theatres, opera houses, Dior and Vuitton fashion houses,
Diet Coke puppet adverts, vintage parties and salons…
My name’s Seema, I’m a freelance wigs and hair stylist that
has now specialised in Vintage hair do’s.
For the last seven years I have worked extensively as a
professional hairstylist and theatre wigs dresser in London.
I have created bespoke wigs for fashion houses such as Louis
Vuitton, Christian Dior and Agent Provocateur and completed
large scale projects for numerous high end clients including
Mother London, Animated extras and Rootstein mannequins.
I have also completed seasons creating specialist wigs and
hair pieces for the Royal Shakespeare co and The English
National Opera. My latest work can be seen on the Diet coke
’Love it light’ campaign where I cut and styled the puppet
I currently work in two salons in London that have a vintage
edge. Diamond dolls on the Camden Passage in Islington and
Dappa hair boutique in Chalk Farm. I love working in both
of these salons, I often do events with the Diamond dolls
which has us doing period hairstyles for a group of hens
prior to the big night out. This is always good fun and
they’re not too drunk at this point, so it’s rather civilised.
We also attend vintage fairs where girls pop by to transform
themselves into ladies from a few decades ago.
At Dappa it’s quite different, I am the only hairdresser
who has specialised in ’hair ups’, the rest of the team
are incredible hair stylists and we learn a lot from each
other. They also are attached to a vintage shop that sells
very high end clothes, so it pulls in people that really
want to go for the vintage styles.
Below are just some of
Seema’s amazing wig creations – click to enlarge
How it all started
My life as a hairdresser started at Headmasters in Richmond,
I was blessed by a lovely man who took me under his wing
and taught me everything about cutting and blow drying hair.
I watched stylists intensively as they cut hair and tried
things out myself. That team were great to me, they shared
all their skills, it was tiring but it carved my future
as a hairdresser. I owe it all to them for giving me the
opportunity to shine.
I left the salon world to join the theatre. I have worked
for the Royal Shakespeare Company up in Stratford-upon-Avon
and The English National Opera in Covent Garden, this has
been such invaluable experience. Every show that we created
has been inspired by a different era whether it is the late
1800’s or 1930’s. You have to learn about it all.
Wigs are in demand
I have learnt wig and facial hair making, wig styling and
application, even special effects make up. Wigs are used
during performances to save time on getting your actor/
singer ready prior to the show. That way you can style up
to 50 wigs during the course of the day and then take 15
minutes to skilfully and firmly attach it to their head.
Also the styles can be so intricate that doing that to their
actual hair is not only time consuming but damaging too.
Each wig is bespoke, we make it at the theatre. They are
set in rollers and put into a wig oven to set it. The curl
will never fall out this way, you can never achieve that
result without baking the hair.
The hair styles have to be secure without being glued with
hair spray. These skills come in very handy at photo shoots
and also for people attending events where their hair style
has to last a few hours at least.
Getting dolled up
To know how to set hair in rollers, to know how to pin curl
and how to set hair the traditional way really helps my
hairdressing, it gives you a really good foundation. Working
in theatre has also made me really fast yet the quality
of my work is still very high.
It was great having girls lined up in the salon on New Year’s
Eve, all with rollers and pin curls in their hair, applying
their make-up for their night ahead.
Vintage parties are plentiful nowadays, girls really do
like getting dolled up in a classic and beautiful way. Men
also enjoy having their hair quiffed in a rockabilly style.
Everyone used to do it in the past, but they had a lot more
time than us in this hectic world that we live in. We don’t
set our hair over-night any more, so we have to use tongs,
rollers and a great amount of lacquer.
I love the diversity of my work. I’ve created wigs for the
Diet coke puppet fashionistas, made hand-made beards for
the armies in the Prince of Persia film and made brides
feel very special on their big day.
Stylists shy away from hair-ups and stick to the normal
cuts and straight blowdrys. If you research and find alternative
styles to create, it makes hairdressing so much more exciting.
You never get bored.
Right: Seema puts the finishing touches to 'love
it light' puppet Eleanor
Click below to see the video and Seema’s puppet wigs for
the trendy gals below, Diet Coke TV commercial featuring
three female puppets called Irene (left), Eleanor (centre),
Bernadette (right) who encapsulate the Love it Light spirit.
WATCH VIDEO >>
Creating the Mughal Portrait
I wanted to showcase some of my own ideas for wig design
through this piece. I was inspired by ’The Indian Portrait’
exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.
I collaborated with Luis de Jorge Ladrero and together we
started to bring my visions of the ’Indian courtesan’ to
We drew colours, textures and compositions from the Mughal
portraits of India in the 1600’s, I researched into hairstyles
of the courtesan dancers from that period and together with
a great team of creatives we were able to make the story
Above right: This is a dancer who lives within the
palace quarters; during the day she meditates, she focuses
and mentally prepares herself to perform her dance in front
of the Kings that evening. She appears relaxed and complacent.
(Left: The wig is seen on its stand)
Above right: Later, she is transformed... her attention
is fixed, her movements are stronger and expressive. She
has prepared her second wig which is adorned with jewellery
to compliment her dazzling costume.
I wanted to show the difference in her character during
day and night. We showed this through her styles, the lighting
and her movements and gaze. (Left: The wig is seen on its
We were able to create the ambience of a hot Rajasthani
palace within a chapel in Peckham. The lighting was perfect...to
create the warmth during the I also aimed to show the importance
and significance of wigs in performance and how it can transform
ones appearance so quickly and effectively.