Bb’s Laurent Philippon Describes Life as a Session Stylist
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We’re in complete awe over the beautifully soft looks that Bumble and bumble Global Artistic Director Laurent Philippon created this fashion week. The man behind some of the most iconic looks every season, he is surprisingly sweet and humble. We caught up with him backstage to talk about all things hair and learn a little more about the Mane Master.
Tell us about some of the shows you did this season.
This season I started with Club Monaco, where we did very soft waves. We worked the hair with the iron in a very soft way. I don’t like loops. I wanted to create the dream waves that some girls have naturally, so we started with Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray, which I love using as a base when I’m going to work the hair with heated tools. Then we dried the hair completely. Once this is done, we work section by section. I like to do half a loop on one side and half a loop on the other side with the curling iron, and repeat this step. Depending on the length, we use a one inch or one and a half inch curling iron. It was very important to have the hair very brushed, that’s how we get that really beautiful texture, so we brush the hair and run our fingers through it. Then we apply Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Dry Oil Finishing Spray. It’s magic, I have no other word for it. It’s like putting oxygen in the hair. It brings airiness and a really beautiful setting shine. It separates the pieces. It feels like nothing is in the hair. You know when you wash your hair and you think it’s fabulous at the end of the day, well…with this, you can achieve that feeling right away. It’s the product I used in all of my shows.
The second show I did was Lacoste. I’ve been with the designer, Felipe Oliveira Baptista, for quite awhile. We set a standard a few years ago when he arrived in the house, it’s that kind of girl who’s style-conscious but she doesn’t make much effort, or at least she looks like she doesn’t make much effort. It’s all about respecting the personality of the girl and the guy, and their natural texture, which means working with it and not changing it. For a few girls, we added extensions for fullness.
We used two main products. One was Bumble and Bumble Prep, which contains minerals and vitamins that boost the hair and gives it a healthy look, it’s almost like a conditioning water. The other was Bumble and Bumble Don’t Blow It, applied on wet hair and let air dry. We let it air dry because when you use a dryer, you lose that cool factor right away. I love blow drying, but for this show particularly, it’s a very young cast, it’s about the active, sporty yet stylish girl who has an effortless beauty. Her beauty rituals reside in the choice of product and having the right haircut. For some guys at Lacoste, we fixed their haircuts. On that kind of hair, the haircut is really important. It all starts with a great haircut, always. Sometimes we had to fix the haircut for it to fall properly. At the end when the girls were all lining up, we used my favorite product of the season, Bumble and Bumble Invisible Oil Dry Oil Finishing Spray—it’s weightless, gives great separation and also smells fabulous, all of backstage smelled like it.
The third show I did this season was Gypsy Sport. Gypsy Sport is a lot of fun for us to do. It was a bit of a challenge because the backstage was very minimal, we had five chairs and no mirrors. This is really the minimum I ask, is to have mirrors because it’s very difficult to work without them, but we turned it out somehow. Sometimes when you work under pressure, you just make things happen. The casting was amazing at Gypsy Sport. There are no boundaries in terms of style here, there’s so much variety, so many kids coming from so many kinds of urban tribes so they already have a strong look but we’re just enhancing their look. What we do with Rio Uribe, the designer, is we meet up and we go through the cast, look at what they wear and consider the possibilities with hair. Part of it is spontaneous but it’s still very controlled in terms of style. We did some finger waves, for example. We used body makeup to color some of the hair. We used a lot of brand new Bumble and Bumble Strong Finish Hairspray, which comes in new packaging, there’s no more cap. To create punky spikes, we backcombed, sprayed Strong Hold Hairspray and flat ironed. We did some braidings using synthetic extensions from Yaki. We knotted them with a large cornrow and the placement was different according to their haircuts.
Some of the looks at Gypsy Sport we wanted to look a bit sweaty so we wetted hair with Bumble and Bumble Prep and Cityswept, a finishing spray that I love to use for wet and shiny looks, I also blow dry with it sometimes. Also at Gypsy Sport some looks were high volume bouffant, but deconstructed.
At Mansur Gavriel, it was all about precision and lustered hair. We started with a very graphic center part and worked the hair section by section with thickening spray and a flat brush then blowdried to get a little bit of crispiness and the shine that you get when you work the hair with heated tools. Then we flat iron the hair once again using the flat brush. When you flat iron, it’s important to have untangled hair to get maximum shine. There were two looks at Mansur Gavriel. The first was a low ponytail in the back. It was very clean but it was not stiff, you could still feel the texture of the hair. I hid the elastic with ribbon and I used double sided tape so there are no knots and no bow. The second look was long, so if the girls didn’t have long hair, we made it long with extensions. It was flat ironed and brushed, and just before they walked out, we sprayed Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil Dry Oil Finishing Spray for that setting shine we were looking for.
What was your favorite look?
If I had to pick a favorite look of the season, it was so much fun to do Gypsy Sport and I loved the flames I created.
What’s your take on the effortless hair trend that we saw a lot of at NYFW?
That’s what I did at Lacoste, so it looks effortless but it doesn’t mean that nothing was done. The haircut is the base so it’s very important to have the right haircut. If you want to have a little bit of volume, you can use Dryspun on the roots for fullness and body. At the ends, you can use Dry Oil Finishing Spray to create separation.
What advice do you have for stylists who want to do more editorial work?
To do more editorial work, first of all you need to come to New York because that’s where it’s happening in America. The vision of a session hairstylist is a different angle from a salon hairdresser. When you’re a session stylist, you don’t have to think about whether the girl has to do her hair on her own the next day, it’s more about creating the ideal of a woman. There’s no school to become a session stylist. Somehow you need to meet a session stylist who’s already in the business, and be an assistant. That’s how I did and how everyone did it.
Can you tell us about how you got here.
I arrived in Paris when I was 18-years-old for my military service. I had one day off a week, I knocked on the door of Alexander de Paris, who was a legendary hairstylist. I was already a hairdresser and I had already won a lot of hair contests so that gave me the confidence to knock on his door. I went straight to him I didn’t go through the reception, I was a bit naive and bold. I told him I dream to work with you, I don’t want to get paid, can I come watch you work once a week and he said sure. After my military service was over, I was hired as an assistant I started to wipe the floor, do what an assistant does at the beginning. The one thing I did not realize when I went to meet him was he was styling all those shows. Back then in the late 80s, there wasn’t such a thing as a session stylist. Alexandre was a salon stylist doing all the major fashion shows, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Givenchy.
I was Alexandre’s assistant for two and half years and then I met another hairdresser, Julien D’ys, a master of deconstruction. I met him one evening in the cafe when I was hanging out with a top model at the time. She introduced us and I started assisting him. It was very challenging at first, because I learned classic French with Alexandre and working with Julien was just the opposite, he was a punk, deconstruct hair dresser so I had to learn everything again. But it was wonderful because I had the classic French hairdressing experience and the other extreme with Julien. I think my style today is a mix of both. I was very lucky to have assisted two legendary hair dressers who were already very big names in fashion.
Who are some other artists in the industry that you admire?
Eugene Souleiman, Guido, Sam McKnight. Within the young ones, I love looking at Duffy’s work and also my former assistant James Pecis. Of course, Julien D’ys is still doing incredible work for Commes de Garcons
Where do you find inspiration?
For me, it’s important to be curious. I love looking at art books, exhibitions, museum, photography, all the arts in general are something I love but I also find inspiration in poetry and shapes in nature. What I do on a daily basis is work with a photographer and a team of makeup artists, stylists, art directors, so it’s team work. We’re building an image sometimes using references and sometimes just chatting. So in order to be part of a team like that, it’s very important to have an open mind and be ready technically to do anything because you don’t know what you’re going to be working with until you get to the shoot–it could be wigs, extensions, hair color— so you have to be ready for anything. I recommend all the Mane Addicts to have a look at my book because it’s a reflection of everything I like. I love hair styling as a form of expression, especially in Africa hairstyling you can see so many different ways of placing the hair, I find it absolutely fascinating. I want to thank Mane Addicts for having me here today because we share the same passion around the art of hairdressing, which I think is a universal language.
Follow @laurentphilippon and @bumbleandbumble for more.
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