As fun as it is playing with products, it’s even more fun hanging out with brand founders. This month, we made the acquaintance of Frédéric Fekkai, the iconic hairstylist whose fame rivals that of the celebs he’s known for transforming. Among the juicy tidbits we discovered: On top of his storied career, he also happens to be a modern-day knight (seriously—he was knighted in 2010 by the French government). Despite his regal credentials, this innovator’s approach to hair remains thoroughly democratic. His Fekkai line caters to each individual’s unique “hair challenges,” helping to craft the style they’ve always craved. (Our current fave: the Brilliant Glossing Shampoo and Conditioner, which makes our hair shine bright like a you-know-what.) We quizzed him on his favorite hair trends, the difference between the French and American approaches to beauty, styling Hillary Clinton, and 2014’s next power hairstyle.
What part of your job gives you the biggest satisfaction?
As a stylist, I genuinely want to make all women feel beautiful. Watching a client walk out of the salon when she’s happy and comfortable with her style is so rewarding.
Do American and French women approach beauty differently?
American women are willing to take more risks, while French women have this innate sense of easy elegance. My aesthetic sensibility was shaped by observing French women, but I love the juxtaposition of how bold my American clients are! I think the best approach is a little bit of both.
You’ve been styling hair since the ‘70s. What’s your all-time favorite hair trend?
I’m not a fan of trends in general, because what can look fantastic on one person might not complement someone else in quite the same way. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have favorite hair moments in history. For example, Vidal Sassoon’s pixie cut on Mia Farrow and the bouffant look that Kenneth Battelle created for Jacqueline Kennedy were absolutely iconic hairstyles. They happened many years ago, but I still refer to them as two of my favorites and the styles are still seen today. Look at Jennifer Lawrence’s close-cropped look, which is very similar to Mia Farrow’s: It took her from the girl-next-door to a chic, elegant woman. Hair can have an incredible effect on a person and how we perceive them.
What’s the biggest haircare mistake people make?
Not treating their hair carefully or investing in the right products. I like to tell my clients: Treat your hair like you treat your skin. Keep it healthy by consulting with a stylist as you would a dermatologist for unique skincare issues.
In the '90s, you made headlines for transforming Hillary Clinton’s hair into a chic, first lady-worthy bob. What do you think will be the "power hairstyle" of 2014?
I can’t help but notice the grown-out version of the classic bob that so many women are sporting. It’s easy, chic, and works with their hair’s natural texture, as it’s not too long to be weighed down or too short to be unruly. I love that women are working with their natural texture more.
How has your approach to hairstyling changed since you launched your flagship salon?
I’ve definitely become more adventurous over the years. I think pushing the boundaries is the key to staying relevant and keeping my career exciting. I love total hair transformations, which is why I jumped at the chance to partner with Oxygen’s The Face. One of my favorite moments of the season was giving the girls makeovers. We created some really transformative looks that gave them an edgy, high-fashion presence—and most importantly, a renewed sense of confidence!