In terms of hair color, Frédéric Mennetrier is a master. First in a studio, then in his spotless salon, he has built a reputation as a wonder colorist. He nibbles chocolate greedily. He loves going green. He speaks with a seductive voice. He has a colorful laugh but quickly sees red when we talk to him about the secrets behind his highlights. We give him free rein to brighten up our hair, however, and take away our blues. Here, we share secrets in technicolor with a very colorful individual!
FAB: Where are you from, Frédéric Mennetrier?
Frédéric Mennetrier: I grew up in the east of France, in the countryside, surrounded by flowers and animals. I went to very strict religious school with a good standing, until high school – my parents were very attached to it! My father was a carpenter. I had always wanted to do a manual job as well. I loved hairdressing, a profession related to beauty. If you think about it, pampering and beauty has a connection with repairs.
FAB: Where were you trained?
F.M.: I served my apprenticeship at the chamber of trades. I completed my CAP (vocational qualification) in eight months as an independent candidate. At the same time, I was trained by a hairstylist who had moved to the border of Luxembourg. He was a god at cutting men’s hair! Then, I completed my BP (vocational diploma), my masters. I was lucky to meet the right people and to be very well supported. I have worked with people such as, Malcolm Edwards and Luigi Murenu, who I really like.
FAB: How did you acquire this specific interest in color?
F.M.: In the mid-90s, I started working in the studio. I went to all the shows in Paris and Milan. In this context, the clever lighting emphasizes the importance of color. This is how I started to get interested in it. Afterwards, the color took over. It has become a neurotic obsession.
FAB: Are you passionate about color in your everyday life?
F.M.: Of course! We are all influenced by color and have been since childhood. This is because colors are vibrations – they are energy, they are life. You just need to be aware of it. What I especially like is the assembly and harmony of colors. You only have to look at how Degas makes blue resonate, and how Rothko brings out the depth and vibrancy of colors. I am also passionate about the works of Michel Pastoureau, which revolves around the history and symbolism of colors. And, I have just read 300 pages written by two Germans on the psychology of colors, and the emotions that one experiences by sensing them. It’s fascinating!
FAB: What is successful coloring for you?
F.M.: A good color is one that looks natural. This applies to all arts. The magic is not knowing how it was done. Chanel once said, “If a woman is poorly dressed, we notice her dress, but if she is impeccably dressed, she is the one noticed.” It is the same for color. It must be appropriate and consistent with the person.
FAB: What do you find unacceptable in your salon?
F.M.: Home colors are not always successful, but they are not the worst. Home color packs don’t come with the professional advice of a hair dresser, so we can’t blame the women who use these products. However, hairstylists who lack basic insight are inexcusable. They don’t take the time to reflect or work with care. They are locked in habits with automatic reflexes: they put highlights around the face when clients want lighter hair and stripes on the head when they want something a little more natural.
FAB: Is there a problem of misunderstanding between hairstylists and their clients?
F.M.: Of course. According to a recent study, 90% of hairstylists believe they give the right advice, but only 5% of women think that is the case. That’s a huge gap. There is a real problem of connection in our society. We no longer know how to listen to each other or get our point across. Well, we all have our subjective views. The definition of strawberry blonde is not the same for me, for my client, for her husband, or for her lady friend. They key is to tailor your advice and and go that one step further to find a common language.