From soft, natural haircuts to real bangs: Parisian hairdresser David Mallett reveals how French women now wear their hair.
You might not tell by looking at them (and that's what it's all about), but behind every effortless and casual-looking French hairstyle, there are often several hairstylists: inside. David Mallett, whose Paris salon is on Rue Notre Dame des Victoires, is one such hairstylist. For his style-conscious clientele, he creates exactly the kind of dreamy, unkempt styles that we associate with aspiring Parisians.
And how do our French colleagues wear their hair now? "There's a real blueprint of softness," he says. "Even if we cut a bob that used to be all about geometric lines, it is now very soft. The French women want texture on the ends." The aesthetic is "bohemian, poetic and soft," and most importantly, he says, the cut shouldn't be too strict by any means.
The soft shaggy and mullet styles are particularly popular in France. Jim Morrison, with his tousled waves, provides excellent - if unexpected - inspiration for this. "It's a poetic, soft hair cascade that goes wonderfully with straight, wavy, and curly hair," says Mallett. "When a client has long bangs, we make sure the edges are really textured so the bangs move. French hair is a little less neurotic."
Less neurotic than who? You may be wondering. Well, less neurotic than anyone whose favorite hairstyle is ultra-smooth. The French, he says, have a "total aversion to ultra-straight hair" and consider it a look that makes the hair look "dead". Instead, it's all about natural movement: the hair should look perfectly imperfect, casual, but still fall in the right way. "They all pretend they don't care, but in reality, they spent hours and hours looking like they don't care," adds Mallett, amused. "For French women, horror hair is perfectly straightened, with a straight center parting and highlights that start at the base and run straight to the tips. That's what a French woman hates!"
Instead of getting highlights evenly distributed throughout the hair, French women prefer a freer (but still professional) hair color. Mallet says they like a darker shade at the base, with lighter, washed-out color towards the tips. "The color has to have dimension. It has to be diffuse, soft, and undefined," he says. "It should blur and merge towards the edges. Excessively fine highlights are a big no-no!"
From Jeanne Damas to Violette Serrat, we'd all love to wear French pony, right? According to Mallet, the trick is in how they're cut. "When you cut long bangs, the ends and edges have to be frayed," he says. Forget anything that is blunt cut or razor-sharp. A perfectly square pony tells you you're fresh from the barbershop, says Mallett, and that just wouldn't be French.
"A lot of my clients like to add soft waves to their hair during the day and while they don't like using the straightener for its intended purpose, they like to use it to create loose waves," says Mallett. “Another great tip is to" scrunch "your hair with your hands. Or, for our laziest customers, we advise going to bed with wet hair - you wake up with naturally disheveled hair!"
As with all other elements of French hair, the products should be completely imperceptible, add texture, or stealthily smooth out frizz, but never be too obvious. "Every French woman wants a light, voluminous wave and for that, they need a product that tames the hair without weighing it down," he says.