French designer and haute hairstylist Charlie Le Mindu‘s work is not for the faint-hearted or remotely inhibited. Colorful, elaborate, and covered in human hair, his designs have taken the shape of over-sized lips and dainty bows, and have crowned the likes of Lady Gaga and Daphne Guinness. Not surprisingly, his latest collection, which Le Mindu is named ‘Stronger,’ is as eye-catching as the rest of his oeuvre. Featuring towering hair confections in rave-friendly shades, Le Mindu’s spring offering is the unlikely meeting point of deep space and deep house. It’s the kind of unexpected combination with which the stylist happens to be quite familiar.
Born to a Spanish-gypsy father and a drag king mother, Le Mindu has been teasing, dying, and blowdrying his way beyond limits for most of his career. “It’s hair sculpture,” he says of his wigs, wraps, and tangled clothing. “Hair for me is like a fetish. It’s like leather or latex. It’s a texture that I love.” In fact, Le Mindu is so passionate about hair that he says the aim of his line is simply put on a show rather than sell pieces. Fresh off a contact high from his spring collection, we caught up with the designer about his work, dangerous Brazilian dance crazes, and five hair trends to look out for this season.
Where are you based?
I’m half in London, half in Paris. I’m in Paris at the moment, but I go back to London a lot.
How would you describe your style?
I do haute coiffure. It was created in the beginning of the ‘90s by people like Odile Gilbert, but much before that Marie Antoinette. Basically, I just try to bring haute coiffure back onto the catwalk.
What was the inspiration behind your spring collection?
For the last collection, I wanted to bring people really far out in space. When you go there, it’s super dark, but all the bacteria have really amazing colors, so that’s why I created this hair color.
Why did you name the collection ‘Stronger?’
I picked ‘Stronger’ just because of the colors. Also, I was inspired by the song “Bate Cabelo” [which translates from the portuguese as “beat hair” and involves dancers helicoptering their hair]. It’s a dance from Brazil. One of the drag queens at the end [of the show] was doing the “Bate Cabelo,” which is basically dancing with a wig on, but not many people can do it because it’s really dangerous. I just cast him because of this basically. In Paris, he’s the only one who’s able to do so.
What do you look for when casting models for your shows?
The models are usually my friends or girls from Crazy Horse, a cabaret show in Paris. I pick those girls usually. I’m not a big fan of working with models because I’m not trying to sell my clothes or my wigs. I’m just trying to give a show. I prefer to get performers and dancers.
Where does the hair for your designs come from?
I have a sponsor called Hairdreams. They give me everything. It comes from Russia or Siberia.
What’s the best part of working with hair, and the worst?
For me, everything’s good about hair. It’s great when you have a good quality hair and you can do anything you want. I think it can be very difficult depending on where the hair is from. If it comes from Brazil and I want to make it blonde, it can be very difficult. Nothing is too difficult though, I like to experiment.
Do you have a favorite piece from ‘Stronger?’
I kind of like all of them, but my favorite is the braided neck piece.
How long does it usually take to make one of your wigs?
It takes a really long time. I have a team of five people and it takes us one week to make one wig. It’s quite long.
What happens to your pieces after the show?
They go to my press agent. They go for magazine shoots. Then, after the season, lots of them are bought by museums or go to exhibitions. I don’t really sell them to people, it’s more to museums.
When you sit down to design, do you have any rituals?
I like my studio to be super clean when I design. It depends what I want to do with the collection and then I listen to music that goes with the feeling of the collection.
What did you listen to for “Stronger?”
I listened to lots of really hardcore dance music from Amsterdam. It was really bad taste music, but it was the inspiration for the collection.
When you meet someone new, what’s the first thing you notice about their appearance?
Usually I look at people’s eyes. I have a big problem with people being fake with me. I don’t mind what they look like. I don’t care, but I mind how they look at me.
You don’t notice their hair?
No, no, no. Sometimes I do.
Can you give us a few trends to look for in the coming season?
1. Grey Hair – Definitely a good colour
3. 3D cuts on short hair
4. Weird-shaped fringe
5. And Finally !! MERKINS ARE COMING BACK
All runway photos by Valério Mezzanotti.