Cultivating a Provençal Aesthetic
He has styled the tresses of celebrities the world over, from Claudia Schiffer to Renée Zellweger, not to mention Hillary Clinton. He has opened several luxury salons in France and New York City and launched a collection of hair and body care products found worldwide. He is Frédéric Fekkai, and he is a French hairstylist who has made a name for himself in New York. While in Montréal for his new partnership with Ogilvy Holt Renfrew, he showed us his product line for Bastide—a more than 30-year-old brand that he purchased with his wife in 2017.
Your Bastide product line is distributed in Quebec exclusively in the new Ogilvy Holt Renfrew Beauty Hall. Why?
I think Ogilvy Holt Renfrew is the most beautiful store in Canada. Bastide is a luxury beauty brand. I wanted to join forces with a partner on the same level.
What characterizes Bastide products?
The brand has been around for more than 30 years, it was previously known as Côté Bastide. As someone from Aix-en-Provence, I was sad to see that brands representing Provence were overly cliché. So I made one that celebrates the local land and craftsmanship. My products are modern, free of health risks, made from 98% natural ingredients and not tested on animals. Even children can use them. Bastide is a tribute to the Provençal way of life, to its colours, its scents, its landscapes.
You work exclusively with local Aix-en-Provence artisans…
Yes, with the best. I live in New York City and every time I go back to Provence, I am struck by how people take the time to choose each item they need. They buy bread at the baker, meat from the butcher, zucchini here, oranges there. They go home with the best products. That’s exactly what I wanted to do with Bastide. Whether it’s soap, candles, perfumes or creams, I work with the top artisans in every field.
What are the star products for the summer?
We have just released our Verveine perfume—a wonderful scent of verbena of Provence. We are also about to launch two face care products: a clay mask and a serum. Almost all our products are unisex.
Tell us the story of Rose Olivier perfume, one of your signature products.
One day, in Grasse, France, I was awestruck by magnificent rose bushes that had grown intertwined with olive trees. The flowers were amazing, but I was a little worried for the olive trees. The gardener reassured me that these two plants were living a true love story. I found it so beautiful that I wanted to capture the aroma in a perfume. Which led to this woodsy rose perfume.
You have been so successful. How do you explain it?
I put my heart and soul into my work. I consider myself an artisan who never tires of learning. I am curious by nature and I find inspiration in my surroundings. I also chose to do things a little differently: instead of concentrating only on hair styling, I have taken an interest in beauty in general. I was looking to find out what makes women feel beautiful. Instead of trying to change ourselves, I believe that we can perform simple, authentic rituals, to cultivate beauty and love ourselves as we are.
Text: Diane Stehle
Photos: © Alex Paillon