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The Hairdo

A hairdresser is someone who must understand their client. They must have a keen sense of that person’s personality, their likes and dislikes as well as a complete understanding not only of hair styling but of the client’s facial structure, skin tone, and the like in order to be able to style, suggest and implement a style that is flattering and also relevant. Is their client a politician that needs a certain level of conservativeness to their hair or is she a 20s-something diva that wants to be different and fashion-forward? Whatever that may be, your stylist in order to properly serve you has to understand and intuit all of these things and more. A good hairstylist makes you look your best at any given time. If the client is famous then it’s all the more important because the stylist is connected to the celebrity and the celebrity might very well live and die by the hairstylist’s work. 

When hairstyles were complicated in the 1950s and piled high with hairpieces just going to bed was a chore requiring a melange of pins, clips, and nets. In the morning it was all ruined and the only person who could really sort it all out was the hairdresser. This of course made women dependent on their hairdressers. Having the perfect hairdo meant that you passed society’s acid test and waited hours to have your hair done by the best of the best. For example in the 1950s Alexandre de Paris was the top hairdresser for the European nobility and did the hair of the style icon of the time Wallis Simpson the Duchess of Windsor. 

During that time Paris was the epicenter of Haute Coiffure with hair stars such as Jacques Dessange, and Jean-Louis David. Rosy and Marie Carita opened their legendary salon in 1951 on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. They set out to give clients the full-body experience, which was a novel idea at the time. Bridget Bardot and Catherine Deneuve were their celebrity clients. The company still exists and is now owned by Shiseido.

Jacques Dessange learned hairdressing in Sologne, France at his father’s barbershop. He moved to Paris and worked for luminaries of the time such as Louis Gervais among others and while employed developed the idea of having natural and lively hair, which went against the social norms of the time. Of course, this is how new trends start. Someone has to not only be good but be daring, and have a vision as well as the right clients in order to change an industry’s direction. Timing as they say is everything. In 1956 Dessange opened his salon on Avenue Franklin Roosevelt. At the time he was the hairdresser to the stars and he had a very clever slogan, “I do not go to the hairdresser, I go to Dessange”. 

Jean-Louis David was yet another well-known French Hairdresser. Though he passed in 2019 he had a string of franchised hair salons and his own branded products that are still going strong. There are also other chains like Camille Albane ad Mod’s hair which is for the younger set that enjoys fuss-free styling.

Vidal Sassoon represents the genius of the English-speaking world in hair. He started out in London on Bond Street. In the 1960s he pioneered the idea of a short carefully cut look that emphasized the natural beauty of healthy hair which at the time was a completely different and fresh approach. It was called the Five-Point-Cut and his motto was – wash and go something women of the 1950s and early 1960s loved after being chained to a mirror with big stuffy-lacquered hairdos. This independence from hairdressers was a godsend for women and represented the theme of the swinging sixties. Even today Vidal Sassoon’s name and haircare are synonymous. 

John Frieda learned his craft in London as well, while working in his father’s salon in the suburbs. He broke away in the mid-1970s opened his own salon and by then John Freida was a secret buzzword for hair in London. The Royal family used his services and he is famous for Lady Diana’s layered haircut that can be seen in her engagement photos to Prince Charles. He went on to open six salons in Europe and America and was known for his “Thickening Lotion” and “Frizz-Ease.”

Nicky Clarke is also another big name in hair who did the dos of the famous and the glitterati. Designers like Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, and Givenchy trusted him with the hair of the models in their runway shows. He now produces a line of hair care products that are sold worldwide. 

More notable hairstylists and salons are as follows:

Sally Hershberger: She is a celebrity hairstylist known for creating Meg Ryan’s iconic shag haircut. She has worked with numerous A-list clients and has her own line of hair products.

Cuban-born Oribe Canales was a legendary hairstylist who passed away in 2018. He was known for his innovative techniques and for creating glamorous hairstyles for celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell. His brand, Oribe Hair Care, is still popular among professionals.

Ted Gibson is a renowned hairstylist who has worked with top fashion designers and celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Lupita Nyong’o. He is also a regular on TV shows like “What Not to Wear” and “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”

Jen Atkin is a celebrity hairstylist who has worked with clients like Jessica Alba. She is also the founder of haircare brand Ouai.

Harry Josh is a hairstylist who has worked with clients like Gisele Bundchen and Miranda Kerr. He is known for his signature hair dryer, the Harry Josh Pro Tools Dryer, which is a favorite among professionals.

Frederic Fekkai is a French hairstylist who opened his first salon in New York in 1989. His salons are known for their luxurious atmosphere and expert hair care services, and he has a loyal celebrity following.

Jose Eber is a legendary hairstylist who has worked with A-list clients like Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand. He opened his first salon in Beverly Hills in 1987, and today his salons are located in cities around the world.

Bumble and Bumble is a New York-based salon that was founded in 1977. It quickly gained a reputation for its innovative haircuts and styling products, and today it is a popular destination for fashion insiders and celebrities

In 2023, it’s more of an individualized time for hair. We know what we like, we know what looks best on us (or so we think) and it’s the job of 99.99% of hairdressers and professionals to give us what we want. Occasionally when asked it’s their job to perhaps suggest something new, something fresh and out of the ordinary. But that privilege is reserved for someone who has demonstrated they understand us and earned our trust.

Mme V. Fontaine (Fashion Blogger for

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