Celebrity hairstylist David Gan claims rising stars stopped from going to him because of his ‘mothering ways’
UPSET at not getting young stars to groom
By Charlene Chua
November 10, 2010
HE BELIEVES he’s a star-maker.
FRUSTRATED: David Gan with a photo portrait of his star client Christopher Lee in his salon.
TNP PICTURE: KELVIN CHNG
That’s why he doesn’t understand why he hasn’t been given the chance to make young talent shine.
David Gan, owner of Passion Hair Salon and ‘mother’ to some of MediaCorp’s biggest stars like Fann Wong and Zoe Tay, is upset that artiste managers are no longer sending their young MediaCorp charges to him for hair styling services.
The celebrity hairstylist’s theory?
That they are not doing so perhaps because they don’t like his ‘mothering ways’, constantly fussing over them and giving them advice.
Gan, 49, is known to be a fairy godmother of sorts who dishes out home-brewed birds’ nest backstage at the annual Star Awards and diamond jewellery as wedding gifts to his fiercely loyal stable of favourites.
He also takes it upon himself to act as their fashion stylist, image consultant, career adviser and all-round mentor, cheerleader and confidante.
It’s his all-pervasive approach that has apparently got some artiste managers worried, it seemed.
A MediaCorp artiste who has her hair done by Gan and who declined to be named, admitted that she would at times take Gan’s advice over her manager’s as he was more fashion-forward.
This occasional ‘slighting’ of her manager in Gan’s favour, she said, was her guess as to Gan’s current plight.
Celebrity hairstylist Shunji Matsuo also revealed that two years ago, some artiste managers had told him that they would ‘give’ the newer artistes to him as they didn’t like Gan’s gift-giving antics.
Said Matsuo, 60: ‘The MediaCorp managers said that they will put the young artistes at my salon and these artistes will eventually become veterans.’
A spokesman for MediaCorp told The New Paper in an e-mail: ‘There is no such ban on David Gan. In fact, our make-up unit is working with him on his salon’s sponsorship of services for (new TV drama) Love In Two Cities which is currently in production.’
Gan, however, said that what he wants is the chance to sponsor all of a star’s hair services and not only for ad hoc shows.
He said: ‘What I do is cultivate a star’s confidence by always being there for them so they have this sense of comfort and security.
‘When I’m with them, I make myself a zero. I pamper them too because in order for them to become (bona fide) stars, you have to treat them like one in the first place.’
He added: ‘I won’t say that I groom stars but I do give them a good environment for them to become stars.
Chris Lee, Joanne Peh fought to stay with me
‘Yes, I’m upset because guiding talent is what I do best. If these young artistes were to be styled by me, I’m confident of producing the next Christopher and Fann.’
One actor who’s not styled by Gan is Elvin Ng, 30.
When asked, Ng said he had been approached by Gan two years ago but his hair services at that time were already sponsored by Matsuo.
After talks with his manager and Matsuo, they decided that the timing wasn’t right to switch salons.
But that may not be the case now.
Said Ng: ‘My salon is very good to me and I’ve been with them for four years. The boss was also very understanding then and said he would respect whatever decision I make. I have no contract with them. I stuck with them out of loyalty.
‘But now, my manager has changed so I may consider a switch. I’m of course very flattered that David wants to work with me and the truth is I may need advice on fashion and the like as I’m going it on my own right now.’
When told of this, Matsuo, who was in Paris, said: ‘I respect David Gan as he has been doing hair in Singapore for a long time. I would say we are different as my main clientele (comprises) professionals and executives.
‘If David were to approach Elvin (Ng), I certainly hope Elvin stays with us. We have had a very good working relationship thus far.’
Another young actor, Dai Yang Tian, also said he has heard from friends that Gan was interested in working with him.
Said Dai, 26: ‘As a guy I don’t really care about things like hair. My management arranged for Kim Robinson to take care of my hair and so far I’m happy with their services.
‘I’ve heard good things about David from Fann Wong and Felicia Chin. If he were to approach me now, I would still leave that decision to my management.’
Celebrity hairstylist Addy Lee, who counts Michelle Chia and Quan Yifeng as his clients, said MediaCorp managers used to direct new artistes to his salon but haven’t done so in recent times.
Lee, 39, said: ‘What happens now is that we do hair for artistes like for a certain show and if they like it then we will sponsor them.
‘I don’t have the practice of going up to artistes and asking them to join me. If you are good, they will come to you naturally.’
He declined to comment on Gan’s supposed star-making abilities.
Gan himself admitted that some artistes had told him that they wouldn’t ‘follow’ him, lest he gets to ride on their coat-tails.
But he also said that there were two artistes who had fought to stick with him – Christopher Lee and Joanne Peh.
Lee, 39, told The New Paper: ‘Hair is best done by one person. That’s why if I’m asked to change hairstylist, I’ll say no. I’ve had my hair done by David since 1996.’
He added that Gan has the chops to build up a celebrity’s image as he ‘knows his fashion’.
Gan is also a stickler for discipline and would nag him non-stop to get him to lose any extra weight he had put on.
Peh, 27, who switched from Matsuo to Gan, said that she and Gan have a strong mutual desire to better the local entertainment industry.
‘With him, you are always working to be better at your craft,’ she said.
Other MediaCorp celebs like Tay Ping Hui, Kym Ng and Ann Kok who have had their tresses coiffed by Gan for more than a decade, said they have never been asked by their managers to jump ship.
They also said there is good reason for them having stuck with Gan till now.
Ng, who’s in her 40s, told The New Paper: ‘For the young artistes, not getting to know David, they will know one fewer person who has had vast experience in this entertainment industry and can share that experience in terms of giving good advice. This could perhaps make or break your career.’
Agreed Kok, 37: ‘If it’s nothing against the company, the young artistes should speak up if they want their hair to be done by David.’
But Tay, 39, couldn’t say if the new generation of talents will definitely be at a loss if they don’t get to associate with Gan.
Hype Records boss Ken Lim, who signed popular MediaCorp princesses Jeanette Aw and Rui En, said he believes hard work is what contributed to both their successes – and that should be what young artistes should focus on.
He said: ‘Rui En and Jeanette’s success did not come overnight. Between them, there’s been 20 years of hard work.
‘Whether a star makes it or not depends on more than just a hairstyle or looks as looks are subjective.
‘It’s all about their attitude and commitment to their work. You can have the best managers and stylists but there’ll be no point if you don’t work hard yourself.’
So who’s doing whose hair? Here’s a list of local celebs and their crimpers of choice
Passion Hair Salon
Haircut by David: $339
Tay Ping Hui
Haircut by Kim: $2,580
Haircut by stylists that do artistes’ hair: $238 – $700
Dai Yang Tian
Shunji Matsuo Hair Studio
Haircut by Shunji: $80
Haircut by Addy: $289