The talented multi-award winning Hair Stylist and Buoy Salon + Spa founder Derek Elvy, passed away in Wellington on April 9th after a long battle with Cancer.
He leaves behind him a hairdressing legacy that dates back over 30 years, starting back in the 80s when after managing some of the most progressive salons in New Zealand and Australia, Derek teamed up with his then business partner, Mark Lambert to set up Buoy.
It was small beginnings for the style house, which set up on a shoestring budget of just $12,000 in Newtown. The space was decorated with cow skulls and a striking medieval-derived logo. It was a bold salon and Derek and his team were creating even bolder statements with hair. It was the 80’s after all!
After four years of life in Newtown, Buoy then moved into town, making the Majestic Centre its prime central city location. The church opposite, St Mary’s of the Angels, was the source of inspiration for their new décor.
The bays were shaped as church windows with gold arches; the space was filled with sharp detailing and low lighting. “I’ve always sat comfortably with anything to do with the gothic movement. Closer to heaven further from hell.” Said Derek.
Derek was one of the most awarded hairdressers in New Zealand and Australia, with seven Australasian titles. His work was published internationally and he was the driving force behind a string of theatrical shows such as ‘To Die For’, ‘Drop Dead Gorgeous’ and ‘Glamour Chase’.
Derek also spent six months styling the elves hair on the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. It was an experience he said he wouldn’t care to repeat. “There were 14 hour days in freezing, blizzard conditions, pouring water over elves heads.”
One of the things that meant a lot to Derek was the fact that Buoy became an incubator to some great young hairdressing talent, many of whom have gone on to become very successful stylists in their own right!
“I’m probably most proud of that fact that enough people would credit their time with Buoy as the best years of their life. I think that’s pretty cool, ” He said.
Derek was a father figure to all his staff that worked alongside him. He was highly respected and liked by everyone. He was a deep thinker who always thought outside the square. Derek’s extraordinary personality left a long lasting impression on all those who came in contact with him.
He had many influences himself, among them hairdressing icon Robert Lobetta and music legend David Bowie. He fondly remembered working with David Bowie on the movie ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’ which was partly made in Auckland and Rarotanga back in the early eighties.
Derek always took pride in his appearance. In 2013 he was named one of Wellington’s 20 best dressed men by Fishhead magazine. When asked to describe his personal style Derek replied “Arty, punk and eccentric.”
When asked what makes someone well dressed? “People who don’t over think dressing, and seem to be effortlessly comfortable in their skin. The ability to make the ordinary cool and inspiring.” Was his reply.
Derek was the creative hair director behind many great fashion shows, but his collaboration with WORLD one of New Zealand’s most iconic brands, really stood out. It was a match made in heaven!
“Derek was New Zealand’s most creative and avant-garde hairdresser. For the past 35 years he has single handedly pushed the creative envelope in hair, fashion and make up. His team based in Wellington is New Zealand’s best kept secret. WORLD worked with him over several seasons and each time he transformed our Fashion Vision into a whole new level.” Francis Hooper- Creative Director at WORLD
Last year Derek embarked on one final creative project, relocating to Featherston and converting a former chocolate factory into his home filled with antiques and collectables, gathered from his travels over the years. Derek’s finished home was featured in the March 2018 issue of NZ House & Garden.
“This house is Derek’s final, big creative act,” said NZ House & Garden editor Sally Duggan. “And it is a triumph. He took a pigeon-infested old factory building and turned it into a series of beautiful, moody living spaces that are different from anything that has been in the magazine. His house will be a legacy to his truly unique life.”
A special memorial celebrating Derek’s life will be held at The Pines in Wellington on the 23rd April.