Three decades since making his name with a salon atop Bergdorf Goodman and a client list that reads like the society pages of Vanity Fair, Frédéric Fekkai has traded in the hustle of Manhattan for la vie en rose. The entrepreneurial celebrity hairstylist bought back the naming rights to his eponymous luxury hair-care label last year, and has returned to his hometown of Aix-en-Provence, France, where he’s acquired the boutique fragrance house Bastide. This month, he expanded its lineup of perfumes and body treatments with a “slow beauty” skin-care collection. In Toronto to launch a new Bastide scent at Holt Renfrew, a crisp combination of verbena and citrus named Verveine du Sud, Fekkai talked to The Globe and Mail about taking a temporary vow of silence, why plumped lips make him sad and what slow beauty really means.
In a post on Bastide’s Instagram, you suggested not speaking to anyone for two hours as a sort of mental vacation. Is that something you do?
Yes, so here’s what it is. I think it’s important that we associate beauty not only with products, but also with a way of life and with rituals, and if we have a discipline of that, that means we take time for ourselves. People are afraid of meditation. Here, you just take time to do anything that is careful, that is for you. Cook something, walk into your garden, a park or even around the block. Whatever it is, take time to do something just for you. This is the best meditation there is.
What’s your ritual of choice?
I love to close my office, turn my seat around, look out the window and just breathe. And I do that for 20 minutes. I close my eyes and, I tell you what, it’s incredible. It resets my day and this is not a cliché, so I recommend it to everybody. It’s amazing what breathing can do for you.
Speaking of slowing down, I’ve seen you describe Bastide as a slow beauty brand. What does that mean?
Slow beauty, clean beauty, all of this is really a movement that says you don’t have to go and rush to do things to enhance your beauty. So you don’t need to run to the doctor and do an injectable, you don’t need to try and apply a miracle cream. It’s about taking care of yourself, making sure that you drink well, you eat well, you sleep well, you have your own rituals or you cleanse your face with a great toner. I’ll give you a tip: You get apple cider vinegar, you dilute this with water, take a little bit of cotton and clean your face. Things like that.
That sounds less invasive than an injection, although you probably won’t get the same results – so is it also about resetting your beauty standards?
Yes, it’s important to make sure, first of all, that you appreciate yourself. The most beautiful thing in life is when you know who you are and you accept your beauty and enhance it subtly. To me, it’s important to make sure that you enhance your hair, your skin, if you need to fill out the shape of your eyebrow, but without eliminating your own features. You know, I feel so sad sometimes when I see a woman with plumped lips. It changes her fundamental beauty.
This idea of taking time for yourself and embracing your natural beauty isn’t new, but it seems to be having a moment. Why do you think it’s so popular right now?
I think it has to do with technology. We are much more consumed by our phone, our tablet, our computer. People now need to figure out how to consume life rather than life consuming them. We’re all hunched today. Everybody’s giving you a device to correct your posture. It shows you how we are deforming ourselves.
So how does Bastide fit into this beauty movement?
It had to be eco-friendly, sustainable, responsible, all of this. We are now avoiding silicones, which was very difficult to do, because silicone helps to distribute the product in your skin or hair. There’s an amazing company in Europe providing us with a substitute for silicones that is a derivative of a natural plant. And I wanted to do it with sophistication, to make sure the product looked good in your house. Beauty is not just about you. It’s also about the surroundings around you. If you surround yourself with beauty, you become beautiful. Again, it’s about applying beauty in addition to a great regimen. So sleep well, eat well, smile, spend time with your partner, enjoy life. And frankly, it’s true, because I see it in the south of France. People have a different glow.