Culture & Lifestyle / Contessa Awards 2015: Highlights & South Asian Talent

Contessa Awards 2015: Highlights & South Asian Talent

Culture & Lifestyle Nov 10, 2015

The Contessa Awards 2015: Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Awards by Salon Magazine celebrated the brightest stars in professional beauty with its annual awards show held on November 9, 2015, at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in downtown Toronto.

?The Contessas, the Canadian Hairstylist of the Year Awards, have been the gold standard for professional beauty in Canada since 1988 and they're Canada’s longest-running and most prestigious awards honouring excellence and creativity in salon professionals. Each year, the Contessas award the artistry of 23 of the most talented beauty pros across the nation.

The mandate of the Contessa Awards is to highlight, promote and recognize Canada’s premier professional beauty talent. The event unites the industry from coast to coast and presents an opportunity for beauty professionals to share their knowledge, inspiration and passion for their profession with their colleagues.

Flower Runway Hair Performance by Schwarzkopf Professional
Photo Credit: Salon Magazine

Northern Birds Runway Hair Performance by Wella Professionals
Photo Credit: Salon Magazine

Alongside the award presentations, the Contessas also showcased performances by some of the best creative teams in Canada interpreting the theme of the gala, Exotica. The team from Wella Professionals created a magical segment taking cues from the landscape of northern birds, followed by Schwarzkopf Professional giving shape to a lavish display featuring resplendent flowers while Redken brought to life the mysterious world of birds of prey with sheer artistry through men’s hairstyling.

Birds of Prey Runway Hair Performance by Redken
Photo Credit: Salon Magazine

Now the Contessas may be the Oscars of the hair business, but they acknowledge and recognize talent in other areas of the beauty industry as well, including nail and makeup artistry. 

It was a proud moment for ANOKHI to see some South Asian representation with nail artist Nargis Khan, who was a nominee in the nail art category for her work. Salon Magazine is thrilled to see such talented artists coming to the Contessas each year from all walks of life and with such diverse ethnic backgrounds.

"This is a testament of how far Salon Magazine reaches out and touches a diversity of professional stylists, from all walks of life across our country. We want to continue to inspire beauty professionals from as many cultural backgrounds and styles as possible, as it creates a wealth of influences to interpret different facets of beauty. It’s a progressive and modern vision and this is where real creativity stems from," said Yasmin Grothé, editor-in-chief (French) of Salon Magazine.

South Asian Nail Artist Nargis Khan
Photo Credit: Salon Magazine


In an exclusive interview with ANOKHI, Nargis revealed the South Asian inspirations behind her work. "With my collection which has been nominated, I kept our South Asian culture in mind but with a more modern take. I've always loved and admired mehndi artists, their skill and the speed at which they work so I wanted to bring some of that inspiration into my collection," explained Khan.

Mehndi-Inspired Nail Art Designs by Artist Nargis Khan
Photo Credit: Joseph Saraceno

Mehndi-inspired Nail Art Designs by Artist Nargis Khan
Photo Credit: Joseph Saraceno

"I decided not to be conventional and use traditional South Asian colours in my work, like the typical reds and golds," said Khan. "Instead I opted for something a bit more fresh which I think added a more modern, edgier look. Something that is reflective of us and a reflection of who I am too as a modern day South Asian woman — an artist, a beauty professional, living in Toronto." 

The idea that artistic careers aren't held in the highest regard in the South Asian culture is nothing new. When asked about being a professional artist in the beauty field as a South Asian woman, Nargis expressed gratitude and just a little bit of shock: "I have been very blessed with a mother who was open to anything and everything and she let me do what I was happy doing, so I have been very lucky in that manner." 

"It's shocking to me that the arts and beauty are frowned upon in our culture as a great place to build a career and name for yourself," she continued, "especially with the kind of artistry and work coming out of India and South Asia when it comes to textiles and beauty and even mainstream fashion. We're so fashion-forward and trendsetting, yet this career choice is not always considered the best. It's quite surprising!"

Main Image Photo Credit: Salon Magazine

Daniel Pillai

Daniel Pillai


Daniel is the Digital Media Manager for ANOKHI MEDIA and the host for ANOKHI's entertainment channel, PULSE TV. As part of the dream team, Daniel manages all multiple channels under ANOKHI’s portfolio, while also training new on-air talent, and showing budding p...