Denis Holbecq envisages a scenario where stylists have the confidence to propose a change

It's been the end of a busy day for Denis Holbecq at the L'Oreal salon in Saket, where he's been conducting a hairstyling workshop since morning. He is to return early next day. After two days in the Capital, the Creative Ambassador with L'Oreal Professional proceeds to Mumbai. If there's fatigue, it lasts till you get him talking about hair, a job and a passion.

Managing director of his company Victor Victoria & Sarl Denis Holbecq Teaching as well as founder of the Victor Victoria salon in Paris, Holbecq is the king of the shears. And he wants to bring in changes, starting with hair length.

“Right now, it's not about medium-length hair or long hair. So far every magazine has been doing its photo shoots with long hair. The new trend is towards short hair,” says Holbecq, who is the person responsible for first giving supermodel Agyness Deyn the messy bob that she's now famous for. “The look is 100 per cent masculine, yet 100 per cent feminine,” he says about Agyness' crop. “In very fine hair, blond highlights give density.”

Holbecq is part of L'Oreal Professional's H3 (Hear, Hand Head) community, a bunch of hairstylists from around the globe who've taken up the task of leading innovation in hairstyling and teaching. Others in the group include John Gillespie (U.K.), Jan Larsen (Denmark), Robert Eaton (U.K.), Petra Mechurova (Czech Republic) and Piet-Jan Duivenvoorden (Holland).

“We like to call ourselves hair architects as our technique is very precise, the sections and patterns clear, and the cuts very close to the shape of the face,” he says. “It's not for the stylist's pleasure; it's about bringing out the beauty of a person. What every hairdresser needs to understand is that every woman wants to look different.” It is important, he says, to have a connection with a client.

“I want to help hairdressers in every part of the world to be professionals, to be perceived by clients as good professionals. The team wants to raise the profile of the job,” Holbecq says.

In 1993, Holbecq set up the first Victor Victoria salon in France. “It was 60 square metres then,” he recalls.

Coming back to hairstyles, he says, “Sometimes a person's overall look is not in connection with the hair. Many times I look at a person and think ‘It's just hair, where's the hairstyle?''.

Here again, short hair takes precedence. “After a designer sketches a dress on paper, gives it to a hairdresser. He will draw short hair on the figure,” Holbecq points out.

A few of the hairstyles, he likes are those of Felicity Huffman's character Lynette Scavo in,, Desperate Housewives, SATC's Carrie Bradshaw, and Rihanna's. On the latter, he says, “It was a good cut for her when she went from long to short the first time.” Also Sharon Stone and Julia Roberts. “After 40, it is good to take off some years off the face.”

Are Indian hairstylists ready to make the jump from safe to bold? “I think they are ready in the sense they know how to do it. It's the same problem that existed in France 10 years ago – good professionals, clients waiting for advice, but the hairdresser is too shy to propose a short cut,” he opines. A question of confidence? “Confidence is good, but not too much confidence. Don't be in a mist, be clear.”

While the hectic travelling that the job of a creative ambassador entails might not be everybody's preferred cup, Holbecq is happy. “I love my life. I like having luggage in my hand. Don't want to change nothing. I don't want to make projections for more than two years ahead.”


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