In this article Pammie Carmichael-Hogg, the creator of Asian Fusion grooming reveals how it all came about and offers a few tips for those wishing to try it themselves.

Pammie and a friend
Pammie and a friend

A fascination for how a messy dog is transformed into a work of art at a grooming salon is something that has always fascinated Pammie and is probably what sowed the seeds for the eventual development of her own unique style of Asian Fusion. It was later on in life when she had a show dog, a Polish Lowland Sheepdog, that she really appreciated the skills of a professional groomer.

This was when she met Kim Mason of the Grooming Parlour in Doncaster and where the mystery of grooming was unravelled. Pammie was smitten! “As my grooming developed,” says Pammie “I would stumble upon pictures of dogs in styles that I had never seen before. They were all from other countries. I remember seeing a poodle that had been trimmed to look like a bear, not a standard ‘teddy trim’ but a proper teddy bear and I was shocked. I spent ages trying to work out how it had been done.” With her own Lhasa to work on and some willing customers Pammie began to practice creating something similar and started to develop her own unique style. Soon after other customers were asking if they could have the same styles. “I realised a need a name to call it so customers could identify it and, more importantly, to be able to tell other dog owners that they met,” says Pammie. “This was the birth of Fusion Grooming – East meets West.” Already, Fusion Grooming was starting to earn Pammie a reputation with the likes of Barbara Bird in the USA who asked her to co-demonstrate with her in Scotland. Her skill was beginning to flourish but for Pammie she still didn’t feel it was good enough. Her search for some proper instruction took her to Canine Design in Somerset with her Lhasa Mimi where Colin Taylor was doing a workshop. “I was terribly nervous trimming in front of spectators,” says Pammie. “It came to Mimi’s head and Colin asked how I would like it. I hesitated for a moment because I didn’t know how he or the spectators would react to my request.

I asked him to do a ‘Japanese face’. Colin’s response was to give one of his trademark grunts and gave Mimi a pretty face but it wasn’t what I wanted. At lunch he pulled me to one side and recommended that I go to the Starwood Academy in Bangkok! It took me two years to get in and I found some of the styles I learnt there too severe. As a result I have developed my own technique for leaving the character of the dog alone and adding my own personal style.” Since then Asian Fusion as it is now known is brewing up a storm. “Groomers can see the benefits of adding this string to their bow,” says Pammie. “For the vast majority, it fuels and fulfils their creativeness. Most importantly it pleases customers. I get stacks of mail every day from groomers here and all over the world giving testament to the difference it’s made in their daily working lives and their profits.” “The most common style I get asked for is the ‘Mimi face’,” says Pammie. “It seems to have become a titled style that I am asked to demonstrate to other groomers. Customers love it and of course Mimi is a great ambassador and model.”

Pammie demonstrating at BDGC 2013

1) The biggest tip is not to try to rush. Like all new things, it takes a little time to learn the new techniques. The second biggest tip is not to be scared. You simply need to get your scissors into the coat and let your heart take over. Quite often a style will just develop as you go on and you begin to see the anatomy underneath. And of course, because this is not prescriptive, you can’t make mistakes! I tell people that we only have happy accidents and from those we can learn and grow.

2) Try to remember that Asian Fusion Grooming is a balance between two opposite ends of a spectrum. Traditional breed trimming that we are taught in schools and the (often) very severe Asian styles. It is a way for us to offer something new and different whilst keeping in touch with the familiar. How far you tip the balance in one direction or another is entirely up to you. But remember, coat preparation is a key factor. The coat should be completely clean, knot free and dried correctly according to the
breed and coat type you are working on.

3) The absolute best breeds are the smaller ones and obviously the ones with plenty of coat hair to play with. The mixed/designer breeds that the industry has been at a loss to know how to style are quite often ideal. On these, where there is no breed standard, we can really exercise our creative natures and make something special and unique. The drop coats and wool coats make great artistic canvases too. There is no reason why the larger breeds cannot share in the fun, and I am receiving more and more pictures of standard poodles and other large breeds on a daily basis. Even the shave offs can have a teeny bit of this styling. Many times, just the face made uber cute can convert owners into regular brushers when they see what can be achieved. These styles are ideal for owners who don’t like or don’t have time to brush regularly, because mostly there is very little long hair to care for.

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Pammie and some of her styles from STARWOOD