, 2022-11-28 11:03:19,
Michelangelo was once asked how he’d sculpt an elephant. He replied, “I would take a large piece of stone and take away everything that was not the elephant.” Well that’s what Delphine Courteille did to my hair: She took away everything that wasn’t French and revealed the Rive Gauche dweller who was apparently hiding inside my mane all along.
Back in 2019, I interviewed Courteille for a story I was writing about the secrets of French woman hair. “Everything starts with the cut,” she’d declared, inviting me to sit in her chair and see for myself the next time I’d be in Paris. Three years and a pandemic later, I finally took her up on her offer.
A few steps from the Tuileries Gardens, Courteille’s salon is tucked away in a courtyard concealed by an imposing iron gate on rue du Mont Thabor. You need a code to get in, which seems fitting considering the many famous names in her client book: French style stars like Inès de la Fressange, Jeanne Damas and Sophie Fontanel, as well as international clients who call on her expertise when they’re in town: Alexa Chung, Karlie Kloss, Rashida Jones … The day before my appointment, Courteille shares a snap of Pharrell Williams getting his colour touched up.
I punch the code on the keypad and feel a rush as the heavy door opens, as though I’ve entered some inner sanctum of hair. The salon is gorgeous: pale peach walls, terrazzo floors and loads of curved lives and brass details. It’s soft and serene and a wee bit whimsical — worlds away from the thumping beats and black vinyl seats that dominate the salon scene back home.
Courteille is as warm and inviting as her space, all smiles and piece-y strands casually raked to one side. She directs me to her chair. “Dites-moi.” (Tell me.) I explain I’d like to keep my hair longish but maybe have it be a bit more face-framing. She nods intently, running her finger through my lengths. “Levez-vous s’il vous plaît.” (Stand up, please.) She hands me a black robe to slip on and before I know it: snip, snip, snip. Her scissors are at work before I’ve even sat back down, chunks of hair flying all around me. I’d prepared a whole folder of inspo shots to show her on my phone, but to hell with that, I guess. I can feel my blood pressure rising.
“I always cut hair when it’s dry,” she tells me, apparently sensing my surprise. “It gives me a better feel for the hair. When it’s wet, it’s heavier, and you can’t really see what’s…
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