Thursday June 1, 2000 Phone Interview With Philippe Tordjman "Philou"
Not only is the hot new Philou line of scented hair care (Bubblegum, Green Apple, Chocolate Mint, Banana, Licorice) exciting, it's creator, French born Philippe Tordjman, is an incredible success story with all the ingredients of the original American Dream. Philippe's life is prime fodder for the silver screen.
The Philou line (named for Philippe's childhood nickname) is getting lots of attention from the press and has appeared in a string of impressive magazines like Women's Wear Daily, Teen People, YM, Jump, Seventeen, to name a few.
I was very lucky to connect with the charming and fascinating Philippe by phone for an interview about his new line of scented shampoos, his goals for the future and a peek into his philosophies about hair and life.
Not only did Philippe have me mesmerized with stories of his life, I was so ready to try his new products that I was ready to highjack a Philou truck somewhere to get my own dose of the chocolate mint shampoo.
Angel In The Air France Agency
Although I already knew that Philippe had moved to San Francisco in 1992, I was curious about how he found his way to that precise location. He laughed and told me that the story of his journey from his native France to California was so fascinating that it seems almost surreal.
He was right. His story is amazing (OK Hollywood, I am not kidding, this is stuff for the movies). With his permission I have decided to share his adventure.
Philippe told me that after he finished his studies at the most famous art school in France he decided to spread his wings and explore other countries. He lived for approximately 1 years in Spain and another 1 years in Italy. When he decided that he was comfortable with other cultures and languages he decided to take the big plunge and head for a chance at fame and fortune in the United States.
Philippe went to a very tiny local Air France agency near Lyon and told the agent that he wanted to buy a ticket for Los Angeles, California. The agent started to arrange for passage to Los Angeles when he asked Philippe if he could inquire why Philippe specifically wanted to go to such a huge, very expensive city. After some conversation, and at the agent's suggestion, Philippe altered his original plans and flew to San Francisco instead.
Although he arrived in the California with only $500 in his pocket and no knowledge of the English language, his luck was instantly obvious. He landed a job in a well known and successful salon and got the opportunity to work on some famous celebrities.
Fast forward to the year 2000. Philippe now speaks excellent English, is in major demand for his work, commands a handsome fee and has a very hot Union Square salon (Au Top Coiffure) that employs 22 people. Philippe works on many celebrities (like star Matt Dillon) and has a long waiting list for his special hair magic. Philippe loves the US, San Francisco and everything about his life.
When Philippe realized that the Air France agent had actually been responsible for Philippe's major success by nudging him away from Los Angeles towards San Francisco, he sent his mom back to the Air France office with a gift of chocolates.
The agent was not at the Air France office. In fact, his mom was told that a man had never worked at that particular office in the history of the office. No matter how much his mom tried to find the Air France man, she was unsuccessful.
When he discovered that the Air France agent vanished into thin air, Philippe realized that some heavenly force or angel had appeared at the right moment to point Philippe towards his true destiny, which was in San Francisco and not Los Angeles.
Whether an angel had anything to do with it or not, Philippe is grateful and only wishes he could personally thank the Air France agent for his sage guidance.
Art Is His True Passion
The story of how Philippe landed in San Francisco is just one of the many unusual facts about his life. When I asked him what made him decide to study hair, he laughed and told me that he never did study hair in the traditional way.
First and foremost Philippe is an artist. He studied at some of the most famous and best art schools in France. The type of art that he specialized in was art dedicated to geometric spaces. As Philippe explained it to me, this art focuses on finding a perfect combination of lines and shapes balanced around space.
Art is Philippe's passion. From his incredible artistic talents he evolved into the hair world. It seems like everything about Philippe's life is fascinating. I was not surprised when he told me the interesting story about how he got involved with working on hair.
Philippe, a talented artist with charcoals, used to create drawings of his girlfriend's hair on napkins. It turns out that his drawings of her hair were superior to anything she ever experienced with her hair at the hands of hairstylists. Philippe translated his artwork into actual hairstyles for his lady and she loved everything he created for her.
Because of his study of geometric art, Philippe has a completely different vision about how to create the perfect hair style. Indeed, Philippe uses his expertise in the art of human faces to understand and work from different perspectives.
Basically Philippe creates living art out of hair. Even better, every creation is completely unique for each one of his customers. No wonder he has such a long waiting list for appointments (yes, Philippe is still taking new clients). Having an artist create a unique style that is perfectly designed around your own face and head is something that most people only dream of.
Creating Hair Masterpieces
I asked Philippe if his hair clients discuss their hair desires or just let him create his masterpiece. Philippe said that he only cuts hair (his assistants handle chemicals and other treatments) and he only works on people who trust him to do what he feels is the best design for their hair. If you plan on going to Philippe for his hair magic, leave your photos of Jennifer Aniston at home and trust that he will do amazing things to your hair.
Care & Handling Of Long Hair
All this talk about trusting Philippe to create the best style prompted me to ask him what he would do with below the waist hair like mine. Philippe laughed and said that he probably would refuse to work on my hair and would have his assistant just trim the ends.
I was intrigued. Why would he not work on my super long hair? The reason is quite simple according to Philippe. He wants his clients to love his work and be very happy. After spending years growing my hair to its current length Philippe said that he would be pretty sure I would not be happy with the new look he would create. In fact, he said I would probably go home and cry if all my hair were cut off.
My hero. A stylist that would refuse to chop off my beautiful long hair. In fact, Philippe told me the reason he would have his assistant trim my ends. He told me that when you pay for a visit with him a lot of the expense is for his artistic creativity and one-of-a-kind hair creations. As he pointed out, there is no need to pay his prices for a good trim.
OK. So this charming man is a hair genius, has rocked the hair world with a fabulous line of revolutionary new hair products and he respects long hair. Very impressive.
Philippe asked me several questions about how long I had been growing my hair, how I took care of it and whether I used heated styling tools (rarely). He told me that based on what I said about the care of my hair, it sounded healthy and beautiful. Philippe told me that healthy long hair like mine is rare and something that should be cherished. Not chopped of by a scissor happy stylist.
I asked Philippe why he thought so many stylists wanted to cut long hair. Philippe told me that it is opinion that when a person has beautiful, healthy long hair, other people may be secretly envious and want to cut it all off. He also said that some stylists just don't know what to do with longer hair so they try to style it which means that they cut it. Philippe pointed out that most cosmetology schools teach more about sanitation and less about hair design, styling and art. This means that many stylists are stumped when it comes to handling longer hair.
I was very happy to hear his opinions about long hair. It is refreshing to know that people with flowing long locks are safe with Philippe.
I asked Philippe is he had applied some of the recent aromatherapy findings when he selected the various aromas of his hot new Philou hair care line. Although he was not specifically aware of the fact that Green Apple is an aroma that suppresses appetite and that chocolate has a calming influence, he was not at all surprised. He is a big believer in the study of aromatherapy. Philippe is also focused on how certain aromas will stimulate, relax or provide other great benefits to the human body.
Although the Philou hair care line has the extra benefits of great aromatherapy principles, they were created by Philippe to answer a need he identified in teens. As he explained it, teens were mostly left out in the hair care world. While there were products for men and ethnic groups, no salon quality products were readily available or designed specifically for teen consumers.
Creating A Line Just For Teens
Philippe created his Philou line of shampoos and matching conditioners specifically for teen hair which deserves special and gentle formulas. All of the Philou products have a pH level of 4.7 or less.
When I asked Philippe why he focused on teens, he told me that they seem to be the only segment of the population that is regularly ignored by the hair care industries. He also said that he wanted to create a line that was new and exciting and fun.
Many elements of his vision of fun have been incorporated into his wonderful product. Not only does the line come scented of bubblegum and chocolate, the caps on the shampoo and conditioning bottles are designed to look like Darth Vader helmets from the popular Star War movies.
Is Philou Just For Teens?
Although the Philou line was designed with teens in mind, it is not just for teens. In fact, Philippe mentioned that the line is very popular with all ages. Younger kids want to use the products like their big brothers and sisters. Young professionals like the fact that it is different. Older consumers love the fabulous aromas and the gentle composition of the products. The line is very versatile and great for any age and hair type. The product is a smash success.
I asked Philippe to tell me more about how the Philou line would work for certain hair challenges. He told me that the Green Apple was designed specifically to include malic acid which is use to remove chlorine and clarify the hair. It is a wonderful product for teens to use during the summer month when they hang out by the pool and forget to wear their bathing caps and get a bigger dose of pool chemicals than they should.
The rest of the products, Bubblegum, Chocolate Mint, Banana and Licorice are designed to be gentle for all types of hair. They are mild, high foaming and will work great for hair that is normal to dry. They are also designed to be gentle to hair that has been chemically treated or is damaged in any way.
Love For Experimenting
Philippe told me that he loves to experiment with creating new styles, new products and new ways of doing things for his customers and for the hair industry. In general, Philippe believes that it is time for a revolutionary new approach in the entire hair care business.
His long term dream is to offer services and products that provide consumers with fresh new options. Of course Philippe wants to make sure that the new products and services that he creates are innovative and exciting as well as offering maximum benefits for his customers.
Although Philou was conceived as a way to offer teens their very own product line, Philou was also designed to be beneficial for anyone who uses it.
Next On The Horizon For Philippe & Philou
Philippe lives in life's the fast lane. He works hard and he plays hard, participating in intense sports in his limited spare time. A major workaholic, he spends at least 6 days a week working on not only his hair art but directing his brand new line of delightful hair care products.
He told me that he has plans for all kinds of additional hair care lines. Over the next six months or so he will be adding some exciting new styling products to compliment the current shampoo and matching conditioners.
Philippe will also be expanding beyond the horizons of hair to bath and body. Watch for some yummy scented shower gels and body lotions.
I don't know about you, I can't wait.