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Top 10 beauty (and life) lessons I learned from Frédéric Fekkai
Many hairstyles ago, I met Frédéric Fekkai in Montreal. I had a taste of what the tony women who have been turning to him for advice call the “
Fekkai experience.” Since the famed hairstylist moved from Provence to New York in the late ’80s, he has been on a mission to “chic-ify” North American women. He transformed the “mediocre” salon experience into a luxurious beauty and lifestyle-coaching environment. It wasn’t just about getting a haircut. Women came to his salon for consults on makeup. (He hired Bobbie Brown to run a makeup bar. The rest is history on how well that venture turned out for Bobbie.) He offered advice on everything from nutrition to eyewear. Fekkai even hired designers from Ralph Lauren to Azzedine Alaïa to create uniforms for his staff, and he installed phones at every station for his clients. (This was way before the iPhone era.) He also bought a computer—a rare and unusual piece of equipment—for his power clients, like Tina Brown and Barbara Walters, to use. But the secret to his enduring success is his affable, charming nature as well as his genuine commitment to making women feel and look beautiful. His suggestions—as I recall from my Montreal encounter—are kindly delivered, strategic and spot-on. I was sporting a less-than-flattering shorter cut that didn’t enhance my facial bone structure. He gently delivered the news but not in a way that left me feeling uncomfortable. I reminded him of this when we reconnected over breakfast a few weeks ago in New York. “You were kind but exacting in your assessment,” I told him. “Oh,” he smiled, clearly totally drawing a blank on the encounter. “I’m glad I was able to help.”
So what did I learn this time from my encounter? Read on to discover
Fekkai’s top 10 beauty and lifestyle tips.
Lesson #1: Makeup should only enhance your beauty—not cover your beauty. “When I arrived in America in the ’80s, I noticed that women were either extremely polished or very casual and there was nothing in between. I thought I could introduce the idea of casual chic, which is something that women understand in France. It’s about being elegant without being over-the-top. I wanted to introduce them to some new styles and tell them to tone down their makeup, cut their nails and have treatments for their skin. Instead of camouflaging their skin, I wanted them to undress it.”
Lesson #2: Work with your silhouette and bone structure. “Whether it’s eyewear, makeup or hair, your look has to match your proportions.”
Lesson #3: Invest in your hair products. “I had clients with
Kelly bags and Rolex watches who used La Mer, Sisley or La Prairie, yet when I asked them what they put on their hair, they admitted they used products that cost $6.99—or, at best, $12. I asked myself ‘What’s the disconnect here?’ I explored the market and realized what was the problem. Skincare products looked luxurious and calm and haircare ones looked loud and messy. I knew this had to change. That’s why I started my ‘skincare for hair’ product line. The packaging looked luxurious, and the products were good for the hair.”
Lesson #4: Don’t be too radical (both with you hair and nutrition). “Take care of yourself, but don’t sign up for a regimen that you can’t sustain.”
Lesson #5: Teens know what they’re doing. “More young girls are wearing less makeup. At first they were plastering it on their faces, but lately I see a movement to being
Lesson #6: Less is more. “We see people who are doing too many things, from Botox to fillers. They keep going at it. Daughters see their mothers’ faces changing and they don’t want to look like that. I think that’s why we’re seeing this reversal where they’re not even wearing makeup, or very little. We did the same with our parents. We did the opposite.”
Lesson #7: Sugar isn’t your friend. “You may be able to eat sugar at 30. At 50, it is a poison.”
Lesson #8: There’s no such thing as anti-aging. “It’s just about marketing. I’m going to have a birthday next year and so are you. Aging will happen. Anti-aging isn’t going to happen. Why can’t we age beautifully?”
Lesson #9: Keep your eye on Shailene Woodley. “I’m so impressed with her. She’s all natural. She’s one to watch.”
Lesson #10: Move beyond organics. It’s all about integrated farming. “This is the new wave. If you don’t know anything about it, you should
read up on it. It’s the way we should all be eating.”
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