William Collier: Synopsis of a Memoir, pt. 20 - The Olympic Hairdressing Competition

December 31, 2015

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Since the airlines were not deregulated until 1978 airfare to Stuttgart was more than double what it is today. I remember putting in many late nights working and watching every dollar in preparation for my trip. I was thankful for all the support I received from friends and clients who were cheering me on. My girlfriend at the time was traveling with me. While planning the trip to Germany it was decided that we should see a few major cities in Europe while we were there. The Olympic Competition lasted about three or four days, and then on to Zurich, Switzerland, Paris, London, and back to Seattle.

Upon arriving in Stuttgart we traveled by bus to Dusseldorf, Germany where the competition was being held. Andre met us in Dusseldorf; we were both delighted to see him. After settling in at our hotel, of which I have only a vague recollection, the three of us had dinner and discussed the upcoming events of the next few days. The competition was held in a large indoor facility, resembling a sports stadium. There are certain rules that create the perimeters that guide the participants. These rules are available well in advance of the competition and are used by the judges to determine the winners in various categories. There is an extensive amount of regional and state competitions that take place throughout the year prior to the national competition. I am not an expert on competition protocol, having never competed myself; however, I know that it is a huge commitment and a valued achievement for those that make it to the Olympic level.

The opening ceremony on the first day was quite spectacular. The part I found most interesting was the introduction of the Porsche 914 automobile. This was coordinated with the Porsche factory located in neighboring Stuttgart, consisting of maybe twelve to fourteen new red Porsches, performing a well-choreographed driving extravaganza. Of course there were beautiful models sitting on the mid-engine compartment with their legs draped over the back of the passenger seat. I am sure the speed did not exceed ten mph.

The next few days were filled with a variety of categories being judged, such as men’s barbering techniques that included hair cutting, and facial hair shaping, which was meticulously applied. There were many categories being judged over the next couple of days, some more interesting than the others, all leading up to the Grand Prize 1st Place in the ladies hairdressing competition. This seemed to take the entire day, creating a very dramatic process of elimination. The United States team of which Paul Morey was a member, had placed somewhere in the top five. The German team placed 1st and turned out to be a big deal for us, as Andre had trained under and worked for Bern Gress. Bern Gress being the head trainer for the German team gave us full access to the celebration that took place at his salon.   What a party it was….


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