Inside The Louis Vuitton Suitcase of Hair Stylist John Nollet

Parisian coiffeur John Nollet talks dreaming up the hair in Amélie, customizing that monogramed Louis Vuitton, and his couture hair accessories.

By: Noah Lehava
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

The moment you lay your eyes on John Nollet—the perfection of his artfully disheveled man bun, his piercing blue eyes that you can’t help stare into no matter how hard you try (trust us, we tried), that Gallic masculinity, his charming banter—you understand why the handsome Parisian coiffeur attracts a certain level of clientele. It may also have to do with the fact that he’s a master with scissors, dreaming up the now ubiquitous gamine baby-banged hair launched by Audrey Toutou in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amélie, and has subsequently been responsible for countless famous manes, on and off-screen. You know, like those of Vanessa Paradis (a friend outside the chair), Marion Cotillard, Diane Kruger, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman and Johnny Depp—NBD.

It was this sparkling roster and his decades-long reputation for having immaculate taste that had Louis Vuitton and the Park Hyatt begging Nollet to travel around the world to bring effortless Parisian hair to everyone—or everyone who resides in a very exclusive circle. He finally settled at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme in Suite 101, an experiential salon experience in which he offers much more than just getting a trim. To prep for his round-the-world venture, Nollet worked with a hundred LV artisans in France to painstakingly customize the perfect monogramed luggage to house his tools, a process that would, along with encouragement from his high-profile BFFs, inspire him to design his couture headpieces.

And guys, these hairpieces cannot be found at you local bedazzling source; these things are works of art handcrafted by Métiers d’Art—cascading plumes, meticulously beaded hair bands, and gilded barrettes. Herein, we sit down with the couturier (and writer Nausheen Shah) to talk realizing his passion at a young age, pivotal moments of success, designing one-of-a-kind hair accessories (available at Just One Eye, in case you were wondering) and that Louis Vuitton trunk.

ON FIRST REALIZING HIS PASSION FOR HAIR STYLING…


“When I was a child I began to think at about the age of 4 or 5 that I wanted to be a hairdresser. I don’t know exactly why but I had this passion in my mind. My parents used to have a hotel and restaurant and every Saturday night, when it was wedding season, I would wait to see how people were going to be wearing their clothes and hair. I remember when I was about 8 years old, I was with my mother and my grandmother going to the hairdresser and they were in a bad mood, fighting in the car. After two hours they came out smiling, with movement in their heads — they were different women. I thought, ‘wow, this man is a magician. What did he do?’ He changed all the air of the woman. So all these things combined helped me realize of my passion.”

 

ON HAVING GREAT MENTORS…


“I had the great chance of having an amazing grandmother and I told her that I wanted to be a hairdresser. For my 8th birthday I asked for all the necessary things for being a professional hairdresser — the scissors, the blow dryer and the real head which the students use.  By age 10, I asked my parents if I could work during the school holidays. They were a bit surprised but I found someone who would take me during the holidays. I was learning all this stuff at the hair salon and it was like a dream for me. After that, when I was 14 years old, I went to school in the North of France. It was a school where you go to class half the time and the other half you need to have a mentor. I found the right mentor, an amazing man. Nobody knows him, he’s not famous, but he is more than famous in my heart.”

 

ON HIS FIRST DAYS AS A STYLIST…


“I did a lot of hair for a dance company in the South of France and I had worked for the opera house too. It was a place where I learned a lot about period hair. When you work for the opera house you need to understand the volume of the period moment in the world. And it was so interesting, the house made wigs, all the stuff was part of the dream of the opera.”

 

ON THE SURPRISE SUCCESS OF AMÉLIE…


“I had a surprise, an amazing and beautiful surprise when I realized the success of Amélie the movie. When I understood that the world was talking about this haircut, I was so surprised. It was like a new passport for me; this haircut, this movie. Of course, Audrey Toutou wore this role so well, it’s not just about the haircut — the movie is amazing, the director, the story and the script. I had the chance to imagine the haircut and to have made it and I received a part of the success of this movie.”

 

ON THAT CUSTOMIZED LOUIS VUITTON LUGGAGE…


“In 2009, I had a little collection of accessories and I was proposing the accessories to my customers at the Park Hyatt in Paris and Cheval Blanc Hotel in Courchevel. I saw that I was having more than a huge success with my accessories there and I thought ‘wow, this is amazing. Maybe I don’t have to wait for clients to come to me, maybe I have to go to them.’ I was just dreaming; wouldn’t it be amazing to do a world tour with Louis Vuitton suitcases? I could create my first salon in the suitcases. This was just a dream. Then I spoke about it with someone I had worked with and I said ‘you guys, we’re going to do a world tour,’ and they said ‘okay, what did you drink yesterday?’. It was a real dream, I wasn’t sleeping. Two or three days later I was on the phone with the PR at LV and I said to him ‘I have this idea. I would love to do a world tour with Louis Vuitton suitcases and have a hair salon in the suitcases.’ He said it’s an unbelievable idea because this year is the 150 year anniversary of the custom-made [suitcases]. They didn’t have an idea yet [of what do to for it], so they asked me to design my suitcases and they were going to make it for me.

The design process took about one year. You try to find the perfect piece for the inside — I was designing all the time, it was a dream. I was working with these amazing people who are working in Asnieres, the place where special ordered pieces are made. 100 artisans, more special than the next, [worked there]. Unbelievable you can’t imagine. It’s amazing. I couldn’t speak.”

 

ON DECIDING TO CREATE COUTURE HAIR ACCESSORIES…


“My friend, who is an actress was living in LA, couldn’t ask me to come do her hair, she asked me, ‘John, would you please imagine something and send it to me. I’ll wear the accessory and do my own hair.’ I said ‘yeah, why not!’”

 

ON THE PROCESS OF CREATION…


“The process is amazing. I draft some ideas and I have someone behind me who is making the couture, just like the artisans at Louis Vuitton. The process is completely different for each piece. Now the process is beginning to be like when you design dresses.”

 

ON WHAT INSPIRES HIM…


“Everything inspires me! When you have something to create, everything in the street or the movies or travel [inspires you]. Everything!  Flower, a building, architecture, everything can take a necessary form for me.”

 

ON THE HAIRSTYLE HE WISHES WOULD MAKE A COMEBACK…


“I have so many in my mind! It’s not just one! I love the modernity. I love women the way they are, the simplicity of the hair. Sometimes the elegance is having an amazing haircut, a beautiful haircut and stay true to who you are. Because with accessories you can be who you are and you look sexy. The accessory makes a difference for the day or evening but it’s not changing your personality. That’s what I love!”

 

ON HIS HAIR (BECAUSE WE HAD TO)…


“It’s so simple for me to have this hair because I put my stuff on it and sometimes I sleep with it — the messier, the happier I am.” 

 

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