Knowledge Is Power Hair

The 1000-Year Cut

** Return to stylist chair to await Fabrice. Amuse self by surveying room and identifying work of local plastic surgeons: Count three Gerald Imber noses, five Daniel Baker eye jobs, and a number of gently tautened face-lifts that could be anyone, but most likely are the work of Sherrell Aston.

"So what are we going to do for you?" asks Fabrice Gili, boyish 32-year-old with feathered forelock smacking of early Camelot. "It's the millennium. Should we go for a different look?"

Writer not quite ready for different look, however. Will be bringing same look has sported since seventh grade into new millennium. Drawing from extremely limited stock of phrases used by men to indicate beauty needs, writer says dully, "Just clean it up."

Frédéric Fekkai's French twist
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Frédéric Fekkai's French twist

Popping Certs from utility drawer, Fabrice explains that, at Fekkai, "we're not like these hairdressers who just do one kind of cut, like a signature. Some people get worried that we don't have the presence or the attitude of a hairdresser, but, you know, we're very low-key and organized. We like to talk to people, but not like in France, where they talk about the clients, in a mean way."

Descended from a three-generation line of stylists, Fabrice explains that he has been in business 14 years, most recently at Jacques Dessange. "My old price, which is still current," says Fabrice, who claims 1000 clients, "is $90. I've been promoted to $135. For some people it's a lot of money, but, you know, for a lot of people here it's not. It's an interesting place to work for that reason. Everybody here kind of knows everybody else. They're all kind of from the same class."

Faces, of whatever class, Fabrice goes on, change according to mental state. "So I try to determine what's best for a client. It's a study called morphopsychology, morpho meaning soul. We look first at the face and then at the hair. It's about trying to learn from someone's state of mind."

The face, Fabrice explains, as fingers section locks for surgical snips with German scissors, "is divided into forehead, eyes, and lips. You don't want too much mass in any one place. According to your type of face, if you're the sort of person with large eyes, you'll need a visual before a makeover, a picture. If you have large ears, you probably need to have it explained. If the mouth is large, you want to talk it out. That way you can go in a good direction."

One obvious way to go in good direction is trusting Fabrice's capable and highly expensive hands. Another way? Sipping champagne offered by woman circulating through salon with crystal flutes. Thus client perhaps avoids noticing that haircut—at an average of $135 plus modest $10 stylist tip, $5 for shampoo girl, $2 for coat check, and without purchasing any product—costs approx. $8 per minute. "A haircut is very intimate," says Fabrice, echoing the brilliant Fekkai philosophy that "simple is the most beautiful," as well as the most profitable. "The result has to be nice," says Fabrice. Nice equals confident equals unwarranted sensation of power. Ephemeral, true. But probably cheap at the price.

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