Backstage

  • Yannick d'Is
  • Yannick d'Is backstage at <a href='/index.php/explore/post/4498' target='_parent'>Tim Coppens Spring/Summer 2015</a> for Oribe Hair Care
  • Yannick d'Is backstage at <a href='/index.php/explore/post/4489' target='_parent'>Sally LaPointe Spring/Summer 2015</a> for Oribe Hair Care
  • The September 2014 cover of 'Interview Germany,' styled by Yannick d'is
  • Anna Ewers styled by Yannick d'Is for the September 2014 issue of 'Interview'
  • Spread from the January 2014 issue of 'Vogue Latin America,' styled by Yannick d'Is using Oribe Hair Care
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Yannick d’Is

For more than 30 years, Yannick d’Is has been making his mark on the beauty and fashion worlds. A native of France, d’Is has worked on shoots for top magazines and designers and has styled the hair backstage of some of the biggest fashion shows in the world. We talked to the prolific hairdresser about how he got his start, the key skills every young stylist should have and his secret to longevity.

How did you get your start in hairdressing?


I had an uncle who had a hair salon for men in a little town in Brittany, France. He probably influenced me the most because I was spending my summer vacations with him in his barbershop between the ages of 10 and 14. He was always dressed smart and seemed to make people very happy. This represented something very important to me. When I turned 16, I told my family that I wanted to be a hairdresser. I started my training in Paris a year later in a high-end hair salon in St. Honore. During this time, high-end hairdressing was like haute couture; it was very prestigious. The salon I was working at was situated next to the Hermes store. We had 40 employees, and it was a big change for me—this discovery of luxury and glamour. I was coming from something totally different.

Hairdressing was in a transition period at that time, where the hairdressers were doing “mise en plis” clients. The ladies were coming in regularly every week—same day, same hour—for their shampoo and roller sets. The “brushing” cut wasn’t in style yet. This was in 1967. The two famous and prestigious Parisian hair salons at the time were Carita and Alexandre de Paris. Vidal Sassoon wasn’t very recognized in France yet, but his work represented perfection and was very avant-garde for me. It affirmed my decision in becoming a hairdresser, and to this day, I do not regret becoming one.

Did you have a mentor?


I never had a mentor. Around that time it wasn’t very popular. I mostly learned through watching and assisting fellow co-workers.

Who is your hair icon?


At the moment, my list would be very long, as there are many icons and influencers whom I admire and whose work I love. If I had to choose one, I would have to go back in time because I most admire Monsieur Antoine de Paris. His life was fascinating! “Modern” hairdressing started with him.


What do you consider some of your career highlights so far?


Well this list could also be very long because of my 30 years in the industry. I was very lucky and fortunate to have worked with many creative legends, including photographers such as Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. There was a time when David Bowie visited Paris. I would be called up to go and cut his hair. He was always so appreciative and thankful. I also worked with Gaultier, Galliano and Yohji Yamamoto on their very first shows. David Lynch the film director. The list could go on. I am very passionate and meticulous with my work. I never become bored with it.

What is your hair philosophy?


Accepting change, questioning things and always being you. Taking inspiration but not trying to replicate.

What inspires you?


Youth and the energy and enthusiasm they bring. Big cities influence us while we don’t even realize it. I also love nature, art, music, literature— it’s all crucial for me.

How do you push yourself to try new things?


I try to stay aware of my environment and my surroundings. It pushes me to remain in the present and not be too nostalgic about the past. Unfortunately, I no longer have a workroom or studio to experiment and share anymore, and I miss that a lot. I did have the chance to have a workroom a couple of years ago back in Paris, where I would spend some fortunate experimental time with other hairdressers. It was very enriching for all of us, and essential for collaborating and sharing ideas. I was doing a lot of shows at that time, and it was indispensable to have a studio.

What are your must-haves in your styling kit?


Besides my usual hair tools, like curling irons, I have YS Park round brushes and combs, a Mason Pearson, a selection of good quality French hair pins, and good hair products. All of these items are crucial to my styling kit.

Speaking of good hair products, you’ve recently been working with a lot of Oribe products. Any favorites?


Dry Texturizing Spray: I love to use it to create a dry texture with a cool, unkempt feeling. This product is a necessity and can also be used as a dry shampoo.

Thick Dry Finishing Spray: It gives volume and hold and does not make the hair heavy. It’s a dry spray that can be reworked.

Volumista Mist for Volume: It creates root lift and volume where needed. It’s not sticky or tacky and dries really quickly.

Royal Blowout Heat Styling Spray: When I blow-dry the hair with a brush, I manage to get and maintain good quality hair. It also gives shine and strength.

Rough Luxury Molding Wax: It’s a product that gives me a cool texture for a lived-in feeling.

Rock Hard Gel: It’s perfect for any sculpting or tight wet looks.

Gold Lust Repair and Restore Shampoo: It will give your hair that brilliance with luster.

Conditioner for Magnificent Volume: It gives volume without weighing down the hair, and the smell is superb!

Gold Lust Nourishing Hair Oil: I use it when I need to do a treatment on overworked hair. I leave it on the hair for 20 minutes to help restore hair back to a workable state.

You‘ve been in the industry for 30 years. What’s your secret to longevity?


Passion and having fun while I work! This attitude keeps me young. I surround myself with influential people who help me push boundaries, with no limits.

How important is discipline in your craft?


Rigor and perseverance are fundamental to any work.

You’re known as being a total gentleman. Has that helped you or hurt you throughout your career?


Thank you for the compliment. I definitely think being respectful towards the people with whom you work isn’t at all harmful. It’s actually very enjoyable to work in a pleasant atmosphere. Don’t forget that it’s your work that speaks for yourself.

How do you think the industry has evolved throughout your tenure?


The industry has evolved due to new hair products that have emerged over time. The change is really noticeable. Everything is gravitating towards different textures: dry, shiny, wet, hair extensions and wigs. They have all brought a lot to the evolution of this industry. Now anyone can experiment with different looks, and it doesn’t shock people anymore. We now have total freedom with our hair.

What have been some of your most memorable shoots and shows?


One that always comes to my mind is the Thierry Mugler 20th Anniversary Show. This designer is an absolute genius. The show was a retrospective of his work. I had a huge team helping me. It was fabulous! We worked on the looks for weeks. There were approximately 70 models—old, new and celebrities. Jerry Hall, Claudia Schiffer and Julie Newmar, to name a few, and everyone had a different look, so you can imagine the fun we had creating the wigs and hairpieces!

I believe every shoot we do should be memorable. I work with many different individuals—photographers, stylists, makeup artists, etc. I always consider the time on set in the morning just before we take the first image the most important. It’s all about creating the dream.

You’ve worked with so many designers. Which ones would you like to have take over your closet?


During the ‘80s, I worked closely with Japanese designers, such as Yohi Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons. We worked together in Paris and Japan for their fashion week shows—they were great pioneers. I have a incredible respect for them. After that, there was Martin Margiela and his concept of being an ecologist, which was empowering. They all work in different universes. They transport us into this imaginary world through their collections. It’s a great feeling! To have any of these designers take over my closet would be a dream, but a personal favorite of mine is St. Laurent Homme.

What is your personal style?


For clothes, French, cool and sophisticated. For hair, clean, modern and fresh.

Who are some of your favorite photographers to work with?


I don’t like to be too selective when I get asked that question, but I have to make an exception when it comes to Paolo Roversi. He has been my friend for 35 years, and it’s a huge privilege and honor to be his friend and collaborator. He’s one of the first photographers I worked with and, to this day, we still shoot together.

You‘ve traveled around the world for work. What are some of your most memorable trips?


I’ve had the chance to travel all over the world, and the one thing that I have come to realize is that every country is beautiful in its own unique way—the people, traditions, culture, etc. Every place holds something special for me. You just have to be open-minded when you travel.

I remember this trip when I went to Yemen in 1980. It was for a French fashion magazine. During that time, no fashion magazines were allowed to shoot in this country. We went with a small crew of people because visas were very hard to get; the team consisted of eight, including myself. The photographer was an architect. He had never shot a fashion story before, but he was one of the only photographers allowed to shoot in the country. The northern region of the area was at war, so there was no possible way to shoot there. We took a couple of images in this little town high up in the mountains, practically impossible to gain access to. The locals had never seen tourists. It was surreal for them. It was such a privilege to shoot there. During this time, we would go for an entire week to do a 20-page story. Now trips aren’t what they used to be. Everything is now much shorter.

What trends are you anticipating for fall 2014?


My trend prediction for fall 2014 is that there is going to be a strong influence from the ‘70s—not the disco era, but a more understated feeling. If I had to give you a French reference, it would be Fan de Francoise Hardy (French singer). She had long hair with a nice bang, a beautiful silhouette, and that’s popular today.

The current trend is also short and geometric cuts. I usually achieve this look using wigs. Of course, it’s about being influenced by what’s been done in the past, and we need to reproduce the work, but with a current modern feeling.

What tips do you have for stylists who want to make it big in the session styling world?


Work hard, be passionate about what you do and have a strong sense of pride in your everyday life. You only get one chance, so make it memorable.

What techniques should every young stylist know?


Basically, learn to create quality hair. Learn a good blow dry and how to manipulate it. Anybody can destroy hair, but not everybody can produce good hair.

Training is crucial in this industry. We learn every day and never stop learning. It’s important to retain as much information as possible and understand technique while watching and assisting, and then to practice what you’ve learned.

On the other hand, while technique is indispensable, sometimes we need to forget about it in order to feel free and creative. Learn to analyze your mistakes.

Any personal goals you still have yet to accomplish? What’s next on your project list?


I wish to be able to work as long as I am physically able. Especially with the people I love working with, as well as to meet and collaborate with new people. I wish to still be able to create a dream through my work.

The next project, I would like to pursue is educational videos, so that I can share my craft and knowledge with young hairdressers.
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