The pioneering hair colorist on his early champions and staying true to his roots.
Written By JAYME CYK
When he was just 14 years old and working at a beauty parlor in the French village of Bar-sur-Aube, celebrity hair colorist Christophe Robin learned a life-altering lesson about loyalty. “Become a colorist,” his salon manager advised. “There are very few good ones, so your clients will be more loyal to you.” Robin never could have imagined how dedicated—or famous—those clients would prove to be. (Just one example: Catherine Deneuve’s been a Robin devotee for 20 years.)
“[In the eighties] coloring your hair was not a trend. It was just to cover grays, and I was really disappointed with that,” explains Robin. “But my early training really defined my work—I always take very good care of hair before coloring.” His fastidiousness paid off: Within six years of his arrival in Paris, a gaggle of supermodels (including Stephanie Seymour, Kristen McMenamy, Elle Macpherson, and Claudia Schiffer) was entrusting Robin with their million-dollar manes—soon to be followed by Robin’s boyhood icon and muse-to-be, the aforementioned bombshell Deneuve.Robin views his story as something of a fairy tale. He grew up on a farm outside the village of Champagne (population: 160), watching his mother and her friends color their hair every Sunday and becoming enraptured by their transformations. At age 17, he arrived in Paris and landed a job with visionary hairdresser Jean-Louis David. One day, he was on set for a shoot with Stephanie Seymour when a hair emergency occurred: her hair was not shiny. Robin sprung into action and whipped up a peroxide-free golden shade. Seymour, impressed with her instantly glossy tresses, began telling all her model friends about Robin. The rest is hair history.Seven years after cementing his status as the supermodels’ colorist of choice, Robin opened his first salon in a small courtyard off Rue du Mont Thabor. There, he dispensed his specialty color and moisturizing treatments—the latter of which he developed to keep even the most processed, dramatically bleached hair looking lustrous. Soon thereafter, Robin launched his first two take-home products (Moisturizing Hair Oil with Lavender and Cleansing Mask with Lemon, still bestsellers), and has since expanded into a full line of hair products with a cult fashion-and-beauty-world following. In March, he is moving to 16 Rue Bachaumont in the 2nd arrondissement in Paris, where he is also opening an adjacent boutique that offers free hair washing so customers can try his products before they buy. Below, The Violet Files gets to know the godfather of modern color care.
Name: Christophe Robin
Known For: The marriage of impeccable color and healthy shine
Clients: Catherine Deneuve, Kristen McMenamy, Vanessa Paradis
Years in the Industry: 31
Beauty Essential: Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt
Mentions in The Violet Files: Top Flight: Best Beauty Treatments for 2016 with Fajer Al-Rajaan
Agent: Ali Bird @ The Wall Group
Celebrity colorist Christophe Robin on hair, leisure, and his dream appointment.
“When I was a child living on a farm, I had a poster of [Deneuve] from the film Peau d’Âne,” Robin says. “I dreamed about her. And then one night in 1995 when I was closing up she called my salon for a color consultation…She’s the queen of France and all the world. I went to the Oscars with her one year and everyone—from Steven Spielberg to Clint Eastwood to Jack Nicholson—stopped her because everybody adores her. It’s a big credit that she has been my client for more than 20 years. Catherine always protected her life very deeply. She would not allow anybody to talk about her because she was so private. She waited 10 years before trusting me—not about hair, but about personal things.”
“My partner and I have magnolias, we have hydrangeas, we have roses. For Christmas we will have planted 180 plants and trees. My back still hurts. But gardening is truly necessary for me because I grew up on a farm. I travel to cities all the time and I need to breathe. I need to walk barefoot in the morning on the grass. It keeps you down to earth and makes you very humble.”
“Meryl Streep is my dream appointment. Anything she does, I’m clapping. I think she’s the best actress in the world. Her relationship with her hairstylist is amazing. When she played Margaret Thatcher she won the Oscar and her hairstylist won the Oscar for best hair and she threw an enormous party for him. I met her once and I fell in love. I would do anything for Meryl.”
“I’ve had dogs all of my life and I can’t imagine my life without one. I ride my scooter everywhere in Paris with my dog, Lili, under my arm. She is a border terrier—the best dog ever. Border terriers are so cool and easy. They can sit on a chair all day or run 15 kilometers with you behind a horse.”
“I like to put a bamboo comb in oil all night to clean it and nourish the bamboo. When you comb the hair with it, it transfers some of the oil and closes the cuticle. Backcombing can be terrible for hair, but a bamboo comb that has been in oil helps comfort it.”