salon secrets

How Does A Runway Hairstyle Become One For The Masses?

September 22nd 2017

From the low ponytail as seen as worn by Victoria Beckham, to boxer braids by Sam McKnight showed at Balmain, including the wet look from Lanvin… FAB tells you everything you need to know about these women’s hairstyles. From their development for the runway to their adaptation for everyday wear, Delphine Courteille, a studio and salon hairdresser, tells us her story.

Credit: Fe Pinheiro

The “Fitting” Reflection Session Before The Show

Delphine Courteille, a studio hairdresser well before having her own salon, has been through dozens of fitting sessions: Anthony Vaccarello, Balenciaga, Christophe Lemaire, Lanvin with Bouchra Jarrar, Rabih Kayrouz, and so on. The hairstylist’s creative talent was recently recognized when she was made a Knight of the Ordre national du Mérite, and she has graced Parisian Fashion Weeks for several years now. “Fifteen days before the shows, the designer will ask you to come in and look at the collection: the sketches, fabrics and the general inspiration. Everyone will start thinking about things on their own. Then, two days before the show, the hairdresser [editor’s note: lead stylist] meets together with a make-up artist, a consulting stylist and one of the models. We discuss things and try things out. I usually come with my iPad, where I’ve put together a pre-selection of hairstyles. Anything can happen during these sessions. They might tell me, ‘You’re going to have to do ponytails,’ but when we test it out with the rest of the collection, we realize that it’s not going to work, so we rethink things until it does. This might take an hour – or five,” says Delphine proudly.

Less Commercial Shows, But Bigger Budgets

After her beginnings working with Charlie En Particulier (who at the time had clients who were as luxurious as they were famous: Isabelle Adjani, Isabella Rossellini, Catherine Deneuve, etc.), Delphine joined the team of Odile Gilbert, where she would work for Chanel, Lacroix, Lanvin, Céline, Sonia Rykiel, doing up to 12 fashion shows per season! “At the time, shows were less commercial than they are today. We’d use bangs and wigs with diamonds for Lacroix. For Gaultier, we’d do up long braids and colored extensions. We’d get to bed by 2am – Odile would rent out a bus because we’d take off again early in the morning. Everything was very happy. Nowadays, budgets are much tighter.”

Bella Hadid for Lanvin by Delphine Courteille
Credit: Jonathan Levy

Knowing Who To Work With Backstage

Later on, with help from her agency Atelier 68, Delphine became the lead stylist. “When you’re given the responsibility of a lead stylist, you have to surround yourself with assistants. The number of models will determine the number of assistants. It might vary from four to 30. For example, as lead stylist, I worked for Esprit in Germany, where I had 40 assistants for 70 models. We’d spend about 40 minutes doing the hair of one model. One thing is for sure: every studio hairstyle needs assistants, and we simply can’t do the hair of every model,” says the professional.

Clients Want Runway Hairstyles

“Clients always want the latest look I just created backstage!” says Delphine, with her 20 years of experience.

“Since I used to work in the fashion world, lots of people give me their number so I can do their hair before and after my time working in the studio. In the beginning, I thought of starting a small workshop for these few cuts, and for my preparation to work in the studio. But then, I realized that I had to bring my studio work into the salon. I thought, ‘What I do for photoshoots and fashion shows, I have to redo for more everyday, commercial use.”

ponytail delphine courteille for kayrouz
Credit: Manon Debief

Providing Studio-quality Work For Clients

As a visionary, Delphine realized that very few hairstylists from the fashion world also have their own salon. “In the street, I saw that some women had a rather dull look. Of course, salon hairstyling has changed, but an overdone blow-dry tends to age a person. I wanted to modernize women in the street with a great haircut inspired from the runway. Finally, I left my photo portfolio in the salon so that clients could get inspiration directly. With this system in particular, I’ve often recreated Rabih Kayrouz’s slightly disheveled ponytail. It was even published in ELLE, and then lots of people asked me for it. Also, for Christophe Lemaire, I’d created 1970s-style bobs, with bangs that open up, a bit like with Alexa Chung, which I then did many times after that in the salon. Today, even women with mostly classic looks still try to seek out a unique hairstyle.”