All illustrations by Joseph Turvey
You have probably heard his name, if not seen his products around either in niche luxury stores or in a session hair stylist’s kit. What I have always admired about Frédéric Fekkai is his attention to detail and how he perceives elegance. Familiar with women’s requirements and needs, Fekkai never fails to please. Much respect and credit needs to be given to true legends in the beauty industry that set the standards for the newer and younger hair generation. His road to success is truly inspiring, certainly when you consider that you either sink or swim in a hard working and highly competitive destination like New York.
From Paris to New York and to global status and success, Frédéric Fekkai gives us an insight into his world of passion, creativity and of course what every body strives for, success.
Volt Café: Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background?
Frédéric Fekkai: I spent my childhood in Aix-en-Provence in the South of France. I dreamed of attending l’Académie des Beaux-Arts and becoming a sculptor, but I enrolled in law school instead to please my father. During that time, I had the good fortune to meet an amazing artist from the Jacques Dessange group who introduced me to some of the best hair stylists in the industry, and I got to see them working behind the scenes at photo shoots. I had a strong passion for the artistry of hairstyling immediately, and this led me to redefine my ambitions. I went on to become an Artistic Director for Jacques Dessange in Paris, and in 1982, I moved to New York to help launch the Bruno Dessange Salon on Madison Avenue. I opened my first Frédéric Fekkai Salon in 1989…and the rest is history!
VC: Apart from bring a hairstylist, what genuinely made you want to create hair products?
FF: I wanted to meet the needs of every hair type. Owning and working in my salon, I would see women everyday that struggled to manage their hair and at that time there were no products available that provided great results while delivering a luxury hair care experience. When creating my line I wanted to offer women the best of best worlds, high performing products that deliver results with luxurious fragrances and textures that feel good to use.
VC: You are known for the ‘effortless and glamorous’ look, interpret that in non-hairstylist terms?
FF: The simplest and the most natural are always the most beautiful. I learned this from observing the effortless chic of women in the South of France. The fundamentals of modern, fresh, uncontrived style are really basic. Clean, shiny hair and clear skin. Not too much makeup. Very little jewellery, only what’s needed to create a sense of balance.
VC: Your hairstyles never look heavy, but always seem to have body and movement, how to you create this all the time with completely different hair types?
FF: The key here is to use product that is right for your hair type, so that your hair doesn’t get weighed down. You also need to know how to apply your hair product appropriate. For example, mousse should always be applied to the roots for some volume at the crown, and finishing cream should always be applied on the ends to tame flyaway’s rather than weigh the hair down. It is also very important to get a trim every 6 weeks so hair looks polished and neat.
VC: Your Glossing Cream product is everywhere and receives so much hype, why the Glossing Cream out of your entire range?
FF: Glossing Cream was one of the first products we created, based on the fact that olive oil has always been known for its conditioning and restorative properties. It’s a product that works on all hair types and my best selling product globally!
VC: Finding someone that understands your hair is challenging, how do you know when you’ve found the right one?
FF: I think it is very important that women find a stylist who they are comfortable with and who really listens to what they want. When looking for a new hairstylist, be sure to ask yourself these questions:
Do you feel comfortable with the stylist? You should like his or her sense of style, meaning clothing, grooming, personality, everything.
Is the stylist asking YOU questions and giving ideas and suggestions that relate to your personality, rather than pointing to a style on the wall or in a book?
Is the stylist addressing the health of your hair, not just proposing to cut off split ends?
Once you’ve agreed on a look, does the stylist preview how you’ll need to blow it dry, wash it and maintain it? And are you happy with this level of commitment? These are things to talk about before actually getting the cut.
VC: It’s so easy to get stuck into a hair rut, what can you do to avoid it?
FF: There is nothing worse than someone who is stuck in a rut, or who tries to look exactly the same way every day. Even after you’ve found a look that is comfortable to you, you’ll need to hone it, refine it, and make minor adjustments to avoid this pitfall. A fresh modern look is easy to achieve as long as you realize that there is no such thing as permanent perfection. And it doesn’t have to be a major change to give you extra spark. A good trim will give you a clean look for a new season. Or maybe it’s time to change the shape or direction of your bangs. The nature of the change is less important than the constant re-evaluation.
VC: Tell me about two of the proudest or most unbelievable moments in your career?
FF: Of course opening my own salon in 1989 was a big career highlight. In 2000 my book ‘A Year of Style’ launched in the States. My favourite hairdressing moment was probably back in 1993 when Hillary Clinton came to see me, she wanted me to change her entire hair wardrobe and cut. Originally her team did not want us to discuss the cut with the press, several other New York Salons even tried to take credit for changing Hillary’s look. Eventually we went back to her public relations team and they allowed us to talk candidly to the media about her experience.
Words by Maryam Asadi
TagsFrédéric Fekkai, Jacques Dessange,