Didier came by the office a few weeks back, and after months of trying to nail down a date, we were ready. We booked Louise Parker(Saint Laurent exclusive, 18 perfect inches of thick, sandy hair), and Katrin Thormann (“A baby Kirsten Owen” according to Tom with a shoulder-length whispy blonde cut like golden silk). And when I say “we” I mean Claire and Tom—I had nothing to do with Project Didier until day-of when I happened into the brainstorm session for what to do with Louise’s hair. The problem was that it looked pretty great as-is, and same for Katrin. They were, by Didier’s standards, already finished works of coolness, and since a big cut was out of the question, he wanted more to work with. Some raw material—a lump of clay, ripe for the molding.
“I can do you!” he said, smiling in my general direction. I was standing close enough to Claire to assume he meant her and asked for probably the fifth time if anyone needed “Water? Coffee?” before saying I had lots of work to do and thankyousomuchforcomingin. It’s not that I didn’t want to have my hair done by one of the most acclaimed visionary stylists—Helmut Newton-, Guy Bourdin-level hair—but I really did have a busy day and roughly 39,000 unread emails. “You can bring your computer in here!” Tom insisted. Damn, got me there. Blast these portable computers! I figured that I definitely needed a trim anyway, so let’s do this. I would be that lump of clay. And Didier, Patrick Swayze.
He went in and began fluffing it around a bit. “No, we don’t need to cut it.” Damn, foiled again. Though secretly, this was sort of gratifying—I liked the length, and it’s high time we stop split-end shaming women that don’t get their hair cut every six weeks. It had been around five months and quite some time since brushing it as well. No matter, Didier and his assistant, Takashi, began curling tiny sections with a 1’’ iron—a Hakko Digital Perming Iron, to be exact. Didier calls it the Rolls-Royce of hair tools, insisting that the best hair appliances come from Japan. “They’re very precise, the Japanese for hair,” he said. And as with most good things, it costs around $500 and is impossible to find online. New Yorkers can try Japanese hair supply retailer, Shear World on West 23rd Street—also highly recommended by Didier.
At one point Takashi paused to comb out a section before curling it, as one does, but Didier was insistent that he lose the comb and continue curling over the tiny rats’ nests—going against everything anyone ever told anybody about how to properly style hair. They continued to curl as my brain quietly exploded on the inside. And then came the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray—half a can, at least.
The result was big, messy, curly volume—way different than the other times I’ve taken a curling iron to my hair. It looked…real, like perhaps it grew out of my head that way? Or like if Janis Joplin ran some Oléo Relax through her ends. It got that much cooler each time Didier mussed it up between shots—lobbing the top section to the opposite side, picking up other sections and letting them fall down through a mist of what remained in the Oribe can. That seems to be the key behind his technique—getting that imperfect, I-just-woke-up-in-my-Saint-Laurent-disheveledness. It’s about embracing the imperfect that’s already going on.
But! Do you try this at home? I think yes for the Part 1. I’m a big advocate for the no-brush, no-trim, no-wash lifestyle. The styling part, I think I’d leave to the Didiers of the world, for fully embracing the no-cut life means no-heat as well. No Oribe spray either, though I do need to give it credit for making the curls last well into the next day (which seriously never happens with heat-set curls) and looking even cooler for it. That and the $500 very precise Japanese curling iron. And Didier. Thanks, Didier.
Photographed by Tom Newton. Read how Didier got started in The Professional.