MANE MASTER: Laurent Philippon
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There’s no doubt that Laurent Philippon is one of the greatest hairstylists of the decade. With an impressive resume that includes keying nearly every major fashion week show, working with all the top models, and being published in nearly every major fashion magazine, there’s not much else one can hope to achieve in their career. That is, until you are offered Global Artistic Director for Bumble and Bumble! Laurent’s keen eye and strong skill set set him apart from the rest. With impeccable work that shows off intricacies we can only wish to put our fingers on, his work is beautiful, touchable, and always has an air of effortlessness; and he is now an integral part of the team at Bumble and bumble, creating some of the iconic looks we see backstage and foreseeing all the major hair trends. Keep reading to catch an inside glimpse behind the artist…
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started at my father’s barbershop in France when I was 12 or 13-years-old. When I was 16, I began to do a lot of French national hair contests. After winning regional and national championships, I gained the confidence to pursue my passion for hair as a career. In 1988, I was called unto the French military service, which was mandatory at the time, and received the assignment to be a fireman in Paris. I had one day off a week from my military service, so I went to Alexandre de Paris and asked for a job to work on Saturdays. After working for Alexandre, I realized I could do hair in the world of fashion because that’s what Alexandre was doing back then – session styling in the fashion world. I did mostly session work out of the salon with Alexandre and learned so much from him. Watching him do hair was like watching a ballet; his fingers had such beautiful synchronization! There was something magical watching him work and seeing the movement of the hair. He was such a classic, sweet and elegant man, and you don’t find many people like him nowadays. After working at Alexandre de Paris for two and a half years, I left after the salon was purchased by a company. One of my best friends, supermodel Kristin McMenamy, introduced me to Julien d’Ys and that was the beginning of a great collaboration. The editorial styling I did with Julien d’Ys grew my passion greatly. Working with Julien really opened my mind as I learned how to look at a model (and women in general) and be able to define her beauty. A couple of years later, I began working as an editorial hairstylist on my own.
What was one of your biggest career challenges and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was making my book, Hair: Fashion and Fantasy. It was something I’ve never done before! I had to get the copyright for every image I wanted to use and that was challenging. I was looking for one image in particular and was talking to agencies and galleries, but never got an answer. One day while I was in New York, I was sitting in my hotel room and there was a phonebook. I looked up the photographer, Duane Michals, and realized he lived two blocks from the hotel I was staying at. I knocked on his door and said, “Hello! I’m Laurent and I’m a hairdresser.” He looked down at me and said, “I don’t need a hairdresser!” I told him I was making a book and wanted the photo from a shoot we worked on together years ago. It took him a few days to find the photo from his storage and he gave it to me. I still think every day is a new challenge. I still get the first day jitters on every shoot, whether it’s a tiny editorial, a major campaign or a big show.
Who are some role models who have inspired you?
Alexandre de Paris, Vidal Sassoon, Julien d’Ys – all the super hairdressers who made hair a genuine career. They were not business men; it was about the passion of hair. I believe hair can be a true passion.
Do you have a signature look or style that you are known for?
I think I have a sense of beauty and I’ll never let the hair takeover the beauty of a girl. I want to do hair that the model would be happy to wear outside of the shoot. My goal is to make the girl beautiful.
What was your last major makeover that you’ve done?
I just chopped 10 inches off Isabeli Fontana for the May issue of French Vogue. We wanted her hair shorter for the editorial, so I brought a wig. When she saw the reference, she loved the idea of cutting her hair, so I did!
Which hair products or tools are always in your kit?
What is your favorite Instagram account to follow?
I love Camille Bidault Waddington. She’s a stylist and I just did a story with her for Purple Magazine. This girl is obsessed with fashion from the 70’s and she’s like an encyclopedia of the fashion from that era and her Instagram shows it.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Think bigger than what you are now. When you age, you’ll feel like you want to do something that’s more meaningful, you’ll become Global Artistic Director for Bumble and bumble, and you’ll be able to share your passion with many hairdressers in the network.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received? What advice would you give to new stylists?
Photographer David LaChapelle once told me, “If you want other people to think that you’re good, you have to think that about yourself first.” What I always tell young people is to drink in all type of culture – architecture, art, cinema, photography, literature. The best hairdressers are a cultural sponge.
What is the next chapter for you?
Continuing my work as Global Artistic Director for Bumble and bumble and guiding the company with a hairdresser’s eye.