Model Behavior: My Brush With Hair Modeling


About six months ago, I fell victim to an disastrous haircut at a salon in Manhattan that shall remain nameless. (Bangs are an excellent look for Michelle Obama, not for me.) After months of avoiding mirrors and handfuls of bobby pins to hide my newly hacked locks, enter Frédéric Fekkai.

All-knowing Melissa Goldstein clued me in to the Frédéric Fekkai Training Academy (where aspiring Fekkai stylists tweak their cut, color, and blow-dry techniques on mere mortals’ hair), and I was hooked. I signed up to be a “Fekkai model for a day” and was invited to attend one of their intensive training classes last week at their tiny Soho location. Below is my behind-the-scenes peek into the distinguished and legendary institution Frédéric Fekkai.

The salon in SoHo gleams, partly from the sunlight filling the room and partly from all the chrome details. It’s packed with chic stylists and a bubbly staff, one of whom offered me a my choice of drink a minute after stepping through the door. What treatment!

The program is no joke. The student who cut my hair started as a hair washer at Fekkai years ago and still had two and a half years of school to go. The class is fairly straightforward: There are about 10 students, each working at their own workstation on a particular “model.” There was an incredible range of models—I sat next to a man with dark salt-and-pepper locks and near a redheaded woman with a thick, shoulder-length tendrils. I waited with nervous excitement while my student stylist began sketching the look she wanted to achieve.

After a short chat with me, a few sketches (SKETCHES!!!), and a brief conference with the instructor, my stylist began cutting my hair. She cut my hair—start to finish—while I was standing upright. I’ve heard of a dry haircut, a no-haircut-haircut, but never have I had my hair cut standing up. She explained to me that an individual’s body weight is distributed very differently when sitting in a chair. She also prefers this method because it allowed her to cut my hair at eye level, instead of peering down at my head as she would if I were seated. Genius.

My takeaway? Hair is complicated. There’s so much to consider: the makeup of your hair, face and head structure, current cut and hair shape—the list goes on. New to me was the importance of considering the psychology of the client.

I overheard the instructor say something very interesting to the student who cut my hair: “You have to learn to read the person behind the client who sits in your chair.” He asked me if I had time to blow-dry my hair most mornings. I sheepishly replied that I do not, so he acted accordingly and didn’t blow-dry my hair perfectly as most salons do (can you imagine!?). Instead, he performed some sort of magical twisting trick on my hair with a round brush and a blow drier, casually drying my locks in all of about six minutes. He finished with the decadent Fekkai Essential Shea Pot de Crème for a beachy, relaxed look I felt confident I could achieve at home (or try to, at least).



Voilà! What do you think?

The best news of all: It was FREE (hair color involves a nominal $10).

All in all, it was a great experience (in a strikingly beautiful salon) that opened my eyes to the complexity that is hair. For a behind-the-scenes look at Frédéric Fekkai, including tips from the master himself, check out their blog or log onto to submit your name.

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