Odile Gilbert and Rocco by Eric Metenier
SABINE MORANDINI : An official acknowledgment as a hair dresser, do you think it means a new artistic recognition for hairdressers?
ODILE GILBERT : Yes as I am the first! It relates to a book, a business, it relates to a lot of things.
SM : How does it feel to have the same badge than Rambo?
OG : I don't know..(chuckles) I was wondering what it means to me. Financial aids? recognition? in a way it's work, I have to make a speech, how to make a speech, etc. It's great, I can't say that I don't realize it, it's great but I stay grounded.
SM : You lived in the states, what did you learn?
OG : You learn to fend for yourself. There isn't all the security we have in France, so you have to keep moving.It's swim or drown, for me or anybody.
SM : Is creative energy compatible with commercial needs?
OG : Yes, creation is one thing, business another. They meet somewhere, but it's still two different worlds, even when you're creative, you have to stay grounded, so you have to think in terms of making money. Fashion is more and more present in the world, competition grows fierce, I go everywhere for my work, today it's China, tomorrow Russia, the day after India!
SM : Of all the people you worked with, whom are some of the one that left you the best memories?
OG : I really enjoyed working with Sofia Coppola on Marie Antoinette, I worked with Maggie Cheung lately, whom I really love. The fashion industry is a melting pot , I don't know why they picked me over somebody else, it might be a matter of personality, it's not only about your work, there's something else, a feeling with the people. Why did I meet people like Avedon, or Newton? Those are crossings of energy. I don't believe of the cliche of "excentric " people. When I worked with Galliano, people used to say, he's very "excentric". I didn't see him as such. He really works a lot. It's the same for Karl Lagerfeld, or Jean Paul Gauthier, we have to get passed the illusion, and contemplate the amount of work, day and night.
SM : Do you still have dreams of artistic cooperation?
OG : I don't know, I'm always baffled when someone calls. It happens like this, I don't plan it. When I met Sofia Coppola, I told her that I had a passion, not for her father's work, but for a documentary that her mother made that's called "hearts of darkness", the truth behind the movie, it explains the whole history of Apocalypse Now, but in her reality, as a mother who had two little children in Vietnam,
and through her movie she relates the making of the film,
with all the nightmares they went through, the difficulties, this documentary had a profound impact on me. She also did the making of Marie Antoinette, she's an incredible lady, it's often normal people, next door folks, who are the most interesting to meet.
It's a lot more impressive than people who draw a lot of attention.
I had worked with Sofia Coppola before, but it's my book that triggered this collaboration. that goes to show that we never know what will happen.
SM : How was the shooting of Marie Antoinette?
OG : Great! I took care of the queen Marie Antoinette, I created her looks, I worked on it six month before and then I worked about fifteen times on the shooting. Those are peole who know what they want, very creative. I worked with Milena Canonero, well known designer in the movie industry, who worked on Barry Lindon. In fact, it's the same research work than fashion, based on facts, and taking it from there.
SM : Do you have plans?
OG : Yes but I only talk about it when it's done, otherwise it's bad luck!
SM : How do you decide which new designers to work with?
OG : It's a matter of feeling, trust, I think that companies need to be comfortable with their collaborators, and I think it's very important to remain open, to meet new people in your craft, nothing ventured nothing gained...
SM : What was your first fashion show?
OG : John Galliano. I was exhausted, a month of preparation work, thinking I didn't want to do fashion shows. It was a lot of stress, but it triggered everything else, as I was in high demand after that.
SM : how do you approach a show?
OG : Strongly! I start by listening a lot, I never come with a bright hairdressing idea, you have to create what the customer wants. Listening is going behond words, feeling it, trying to capture a vision and translating it through the work you perform. I suggest ideas to see if we are on the same page, it 's a step process.
It's the same as doing somebody's hair, you don't do it to make yourself happy, you have to understand the person you're dealing with. Enter the realm of imagination, it's the hardest thing, it's a lot of psychology, sensitivity.
SM : Are there a lot of things on your wall when you work?
OG : No, everything is in my head. It's like a therapy, you have to extract what's in your head and translate it in writing, achievement is everything, you have to materialize your ideas.
SM : What are you most passionate about in your work?
OG : Results. You have to get passed technics, forget it, to be in key you have to integrate it. you have to accept making mistakes in order to achieve something great, it's a philosophy that works in life too. You have to be humble, we are not making art, you have to be realist, we create an image and we exist through this image.
SM : Are there new fundamental changes in the hairdressing technics?
OG : It's constant. extensions are a new way to satisfyre any desire,
if a girl wants to be brunette, we make her brunette, we don't say anymore that it's impossible. Technics give freedom. For me and everybody else, actresses, models, it triggered a revolution as intense for hair than computers in everyday life. Color is a very important factor. there is not one girl who is really blond anymore, except if she was born in Sweden.
But to be blond and colored comes with a cost, every three weeks, one has to do it again. It's one of the main source of income for salons, as women need coloration or highlights as they are aging.
The technics are still the same, i simply wonder if school provide the same level of training than it used to, as they are based more on production I trained in a hair dressing school for three years. Hairdressers don't learn all the old technics, and as fashion is a merry go round, it can be a problem. Young hairdressers coming out of school who come to work with me have to learn those technics with me. I ended up in some shows where the hair dressers didn't have enough technics, and there are no two ways about it, you have to know your basics. I will never work with a person who didn't do a school or a training of some sort.
SM : What are your marks, do you have a favorite period?
OG : No, and I don't think it's good to have one, however you have to know your periods. I go from one season to the other, from one company to the other, it's like switching channel, zapping.
SM : How would you describe your universe?
OG : Speed, evolution, zapping.
SM : What do you like in your city, what neighborhood?
OG : Paris is the most beautiful city in the world. I like the 11th district, I like living and breathing neighborhood, I like to feel the pulse, the market, the shops, a normal life. I like the Garnier Opera, it looks like a cake.
SM : Is fashion important?
OG : Yes, fashion is very important. It gives a lot of people jobs, it's an asset in France, from schools, know-how.. It exists elsewhere but here it's very impressive, it's not the same view point.
SM : My friends are very worried, do you think brushing for men is coming back?
OG : Well of course, why not! I think men beauty industry is coming back. Before beauty existed mainly through women, now men are involved too, if not more than women.
SM : Are you more lacked duck or angel hair?
OG : Angel hair!!!
Odile Gilbert will be awarded the badge of knight of Arts and Letters on July 12th 2006 for her contribution to the French "savoir Faire" in the world.Odile has one of the hottest career in fashion today, but it's a lot more than a well deserved success. It's a real crowning for hairdressers in the fashion industry.
Maya & Eric
Hairstyling pin Odile Gilbert
Directed by Sabine Morandini
68 rue de la Folie Méricourt 75011 Paris
Tel 01 40 21 70 29