I long wanted to meet a man whose name is a monument in the world of hairstyling. So I went to Paris - the city of love, culture and beauty, where I met the most famous hairdresser in the world, Alexandre de Paris, several years ago. I not only had the honor to be styled by this great man, who did the hair of Grace Kelly and many other royal families and stars from the show business. I also had the pleasure to listen to his life story - a fairy tale from the day he was born - thanks to the Duchess of Windsor...
I am on a beauty trail in Paris. In the afternoon I have an appointment at the famous beauty salon . But now, more important, I'm in the salon of legendary Alexandre de Paris where in a few minutes I am going to be given a new look. I thought it would be nice to be professionally made up before I am leaving to Chantilly tomorrow, where I am a guest of the fashion-house Hermes, organiser of the annual society event and horse-race "Le Prix de Diane".
The reception alone makes the visit to Alexandre de Paris worth it. The salon is light and spacious - and those who wish can even eat a meal during their visit to the salon or be manicured. Here one is totally pampered and - what is otherwise sadly rather seldom these days - given individual and friendly service from beginning to end. I am more than happy to follow one of the staff members into this world of well-being.
The hairstyles created by Alexandre and his team for parties, weddings and other special occasions are trend-setters and have received many prizes over the years. So if you would like to try out a completely unconventional, beautiful or extravagant hairstyle in order to e able to make your own 'big entrance', then there is only one address worth contemplating: Alexandre de Paris!
Before the great man starts work, the customer's hair is first prepared by a young team.
Laurent (hair-stylist at Alexandre):
The reason that Alexandre has become so famous is that his name expresses lifestyle. He represents a beauty concept and a female ideal. Alexandre is Paris, France and fashion all rolled into one. We do the hair of all the models appearing in the Haute Couture shows. Alexandre's specialty is creations for film stars and glamorous hairstyles for parties and nights out. A lot of business women come here too, women that do not have much time, but still want to have beautiful, healthy and well-cut hair.
Alexandre's specialty is his famous "chignon".
"When we pin up hair", reveals hair artist Jean-Luc Minetti,"it is generally for the fashion shows. Naturally, one has to be adept and know the technique well - especially for the neo-classical chignons. the hair volume is not on the top of the head, it is at the back where the hair is intertwined". Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren, the late Grace Kelly and Isabelle Adjani - all like Alexandre's chignons and are royal customers of Alexandre de Paris.
And finally he arrives - without any doubt: Alexandre is a VIP from head to toe. He is a very charismatic personality and he adores women. I am
Alexandre de Paris
One should never disappoint a women. Our task is to recognise a woman's personality and match her hair to it. Naturally there are fashion trends, but as Jean Cocteau liked to say: What is still "in" today is already "out" tomorrow.
Please reveal your secrets. What should a woman do if she wants to have beautiful hair?
Alexandre de Paris
The first requirement is healthy, clean hair. it should always be washed thoroughly...and you should change your hair shampoo regularly. My tip is to change it even every two months because our scalp and hair needs to be fed in the same way that we feed our stomach. You do not eat just red meat and poultry....like your body, your hair needs variety.
You once said a woman needs to brush her hair frequently - and up to 100 times. Is that a joke?
Alexandre de Paris
I'm not joking! Before going to bed a woman lean over so that her hair is hanging forward and brush it 100 times. If you want strong and beautiful shin hair, you should also regularly massage the scalp - each evening before you go to bed.
Alexandre is an expensive hairdresser. "But", he says, "anything that is beautiful is expensive." The wedding hairstyles are a real dream. those wanting to treat themselves to such magnificence for the happiest day of their life will have to be prepared for a bill of approximately € 200 - cut and wash not included. Those who want it to be even more exclusive - and have the necessary fund at their disposal - can have Alexandre's team flown in on their wedding day. That is all just part of the service.
I am proud - my chignon is ready. I think it really looks great. Before we leave the salon, my camera-team and I are invited to see Alexandre's private apartment which is located in the same building. The great hair artist's private realm is an oasis of nostalgia. Grace Kelly, the Luxembourg royal family, the Liechtensteins or the Württembergs - they have all had their hair done personally by Alexandre. The Dutch, Belgian and Danish Queen and the Rothschilds are members of the exclusive circle whose portraits adorn the star artist's exotic home environment. All of them also have a special place in numerous files for Alexandre's latest book.
And well, Alexandre, how did you meet all of these famous people?
Alexandre de Paris
Through my work and because I was very lucky. I got my first chance as a young man. My parents always wanted me to study medicine, but it was not what I wanted to do. I have always wanted to be a hairdresser and be involved in fashion. As a result, my mother took me to a fortune-teller. The first card she turned over was the Queen of Hearts.
The fortune-teller said: You will meet a king's wife and she will determine your future path. Naturally, I didn't believe a word. Yet two years later, in 1936, I actually met a king's wife who made me famous!
It was the Duchess of Windsor. The Duke and the Duchess taught the young hairdresser how to dress and behave correctly. Eventually, the duchess introduced him to the High Society. Alexandre admits that contacts, title and money have always been important to him - especially for his career.
Yet, despite his glamorous life and numerous prices such as the 'golden thimble' which he received for his new trend waves, the man from St. Tropez has remained modest and does not live in the past. Despite being in his early eighties now he till thinks up new hairstyles. Alexandre's beauty concept has proved itself on a number of occasions. And although he himself now only does the hair for his prominent customers from show business or European aristocracy, the continuation of his style has long be assured. As we are leaving, Alexandre de Paris, reveals that his third book pay homage to women in general, because women - as he says - have always been the sunshine of his life!
La Mistralée Hotel in St. Tropez
This townhouse, built around 1850, was the former home of Alexandre de Paris. It is located in the very heart of Saint Tropez - a two-minute walk from the Vieux Port or the Place des Lices. Alexandre was born and bred in Saint Tropez. He restored the house and, in the course of numerous renovation projects and by paying particular attention to the interior design, transformed it into the height of Baroque sophistication. Recently turned into a charming 4-star-hotel, offers ten bedrooms of which two are suites.
The interior design of each room has been given a personal touch adding to the originality of the hotel.
Beneath high ceilings, in 19th century surroundings full of bronze and golden hues, guests will find an amazing collection of objects and styles. Corinthian pillars blend quite naturally with Renaissance-style stained-glass windows, a Baroque fireplace from Latin America, classic, sophisticated furniture and large paintings inspired by Africa. I haven't been there myself, but when you are next in St. Tropez, have a look at it...
* This special feature "Alexandre de Paris" has been one of more than 200 VIP-Portraits, produced by Nathalie Gütermann for her TV-Shows 'Nathalie's Lifestyle' and 'Nathalie's Art of Living' that were broadcasted between 1990 - 2003 in Germany and in 15 countries world-wide. The content has been updated with actual information in 2004 for Nathalies-Lifestyle.com © 1990 - 2004. The reproduction or other use of any text, photographs, etc. needs the prior written permission of the Chief Publisher.