She might tend to some of Sydney’s most famous tresses – from models, to celebrities, influencers and editors – but Paloma Rose Garcia doesn’t have a lot of time for fashion world artifice.
When I enquire early in our interview whether she’d prefer to described as a ‘hairdresser’ or ‘hair stylist’, she grimaces. “A hairdresser. I’m a hairdresser.”
Later, she laughs: “I’m pretty direct and straight up. I’m very black and white. I am never indecisive.”
Paloma wears her own Lemaire blazer, similar here; Matin cotton tee shirt; Matin linen pants; her own K.Jacques slides, similar here; her own Holly Ryan gold necklace; her own Holly Ryan pearl choker.
That fuss-free approach extends to her personal style, which favours sandals and trainers over heels, and easy beach dresses that can be thrown over swimmers. “I think that the older I get, the more casual I get with my style.”
Casual, yes, but also chic. After all, Paloma has been orbiting the fashion world since she was young, having shown a preternatural talent for hairdressing.
At seven, she would attend hair appointments with her mother “and I’d be grabbing the broom and sweeping the hair and folding tinfoil”. By 12, she was a “tea-and-tidy girl” at a Sydney salon; by 15, she’d ticked off her first fashion week show and at 25 she owned a 50 per cent share in the salon in which she worked. Paloma, her eponymous salon Sydney’s Paddington, launched in 2018.
“I know what I want!” she says.
Increasingly, what Paloma wants is to help others. During the bushfires earlier this year, her salon filled with stacks of non-perishables to send to bushfire-ravaged areas around Sydney.
“Friends started a project called the Fire Relief Run [to deliver provisions to fire-affected areas] and we became a drop-off point. So many people wanted to help and make change, and we were the middle people.”
Recently, she and a hairdresser friend spent a weekend on the south coast giving more than 40 free haircuts to women whose lives had been upended by the disaster.
Paloma wears Maggie Marilyn dress
The 35 year-old mother of two has also grown increasingly passionate about social justice issues, including Indigenous rights and climate change. “I’m finding that as I get older, I’m actually getting more passionate,” she says, adding that a five-day climate conference that she attended last October put sustainability at the forefront of her mind. Now, she aims to buy from ethical or sustainable brands like New Zealand Maggie Marilyn or jeweller Holly Ryan as much as possible.
“I love Maggie Marilyn and what she stands for – and her clothes feel really comfortable. The cuts work for me, “I’ve always been curvaceous. It is what it is,” she adds. “I think I’m pretty [body] confident. We’ve all been there and tried to starve ourselves, but it doesn’t mean you end up looking like a model. I have a different shape.”
These days, although she loves fashion, her focus is on quality over quantity. “I don’t rush out and randomly buy things. I try to be considered.”
Want more stories like this? Sign up to PRIMER’s weekly newsletter here.
Photographer: Simon Upton
Stylist: Jana Pokorny
Hair and make-up: Joel Philips
Photographer’s assistant: Lewis Stevenson
Stylist’s assistant: Lucy Wood