With his hair care skills in constant demand by many of the country’s best known stars, Ferrybank native Michael Doyle is a busy man. We caught up with him during a recent whistlestop visit to Peter Marks salon in Waterford.
Son of the late Peter and Margaret (Peggie) Doyle, Michael grew up at 136 Rockenham, Ferrybank with his sisters Mary, Anne, Patricia and Elaine and brother Dennis. He now lives in Dublin, in an apartment, close to Kilmainham Gaol and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and is Peter Marks creative director, based at the company’s Stephen’s Green salon.
“I went to De La Salle school and intended to go to art college after this but went to Germany two days after my Leaving Cert and stayed on – I was making too much money and having too much fun to think about coming home. So, college was deferred for a year.
“Mum died when I was 16, as I was going into my Leaving Cert year. When you deal with death that young it makes you grow up very quickly.
“When I did return home to Waterford, I went in to Ollie Bible looking for work and soon after began my hairdressing career with him. I was there for about 3 years, until I fell in love and headed off to the UK.
I got work in a salon over there and was really thrown in at the deep end. I had to wing it basically but after six months working in that salon I was made manager. I suppose it was a combination of ‘the luck of the Irish’ and the effects of the ‘Blarney Stone’ all rolled into one. But I’ve never looked back.
After that I had went into partnership in Cambridge for about three years, which was a great success but I fell out of love and so I came back to Ireland.
Though his skills and expertise are in constant demand – both at the Stephen’s Green salon and on celebrity fashion shoots, Michael’s illustrious career with Peter Marks almost didn’t happen!
“I went for an interview with Peter Marks HR and after the interview they asked me to work on their training programme for a few days, to prove myself I suppose.
“Without meaning to be cocky, I said ‘absolutely not – my CV is there and that shows what I’ve done and can do’. The girl who was interviewing was a bit taken aback at first but eventually she offered me work for a day in Peter Marks in Stephen’s Green. After that they offered to take me on. I stayed for nine months and then left
“They approached me a few months later and I’ve been there 21 years this November.”
Michael’s working week is not exactly the most conventional – though he does make time for a bit of glamour when he can.
“Technically I work Wednesday to Saturday in Stephen’s Green, though it doesn’t work out that way always. Then I might be on a shoot for two or three days in a week. I’ve just returned from a shoot with Robbie Keane’s wife Claudine in their Portuguese villa, which was fabulous. I did Pippa O’Connor’s wedding recently – she looked beautiful, so elegant and not too much bling.
Throughout his career, Michael has won many numerous accolades, including the prestigious Off the Rails Hairdresser of the Year and an Irish Hairdressing Federation Hall of Fame Icon Award for his tireless efforts promoting the industry down through the years. This exclusive award is only given out every few years and to receive the award from the Irish Hairdressing Federation is to be accepted as Ireland’s top hairdressing talent.
Michael is the only Irish person to get into the Top Three at the Avant Garde Photography Awards in Paris and also represented Ireland last year in front of 5,000 people at the Royal Albert Hall for the International Visionary Awards. To aspiring young hairdressers, he’s very much an icon – and he’s very generous about sharing his wealth of knowledge.
“The awards are great – it’s wonderful to get recognition within your industry. But I do enjoy the educational side of my work as well.
“I’ve been an educator with L’Oreal in Ireland and the UK for about 12 years. I’m one of the only Irish people to have done that. I also like to keep in touch with what’s going on in all the salons, which is why I’m here in Waterford. When Peter Marks originally came to Waterford they realised within three weeks they needed a bigger premises and the brand continues to be so popular here.”
Whilst his professional life sounds fantastically glamorous and exciting, is Michael also adept at dealing with the odd female meltdown brought on by a broken nail or laddered tights?
“It can be very glamorous. For Pippa’s wedding, all the top Irish models and celebrities were there and it was a great day. But you have to be able to keep calm when things don’t go according to plan as well.
“I’m well-trained in that department. I grew up with four sisters, three older and one younger so I’m well used to dealing with the trials and tribulations of being a woman!”
And no doubt Michael’s skills and expertise are also in constant demand with the ladies in his own family.
“I don’t get down to Waterford as often as I’d like, to be honest, though I do love it when I get the chance to come down and stay with my younger sister Elaine. It’s so lovely to be able to relax and not have to dress up – myself, that is. Somehow I always end up having to dress my nieces up during my visits.
“I’m Cinderella to them. They’ll talk to me in Dublin if they’re going to any occasion and then I’ll go out and choose the dresses, accessorise for them and so on. If they know I’m coming to Waterford I’ll get the phone calls telling me to bring my scissors, asking will I sort out uneven hair colours…”
So, does Michael enjoy being the guy those seemingly impeccably groomed stars frantically call when they’re having a bad hair day?
“Absolutely. And you get to know so many of them from working on various shoots over the years. I started doing TV with the original Off the Rails and I hated it at the time – working in television makes you really self aware and I’d be highly critical of myself at the best of times. Over the years I’ve learned to just relax and be myself.
“You do get to know some of the celebrities very well when you’re working so closely with them. Claudine Palmer is a good friend of mine, as is Andrea Roche. Jodie Kidd is just the nicest girl in the world. Tyra Banks is a completely different person with a camera in her face than she is off camera.
“I love the excitement and gossip of it all but my lips are sealed on the finer details – I’m keeping them for my memoirs.”