Pro Talk: Christophe Robin
“I grew up in a little village with 160 people in the Champagne area. I was supposed to become a farmer in Champagne like my parents, but I left when I was 14 years old. I was ready to escape and I ran to the city close by and I was taken in by a fellow but I could have worked in any other place. I used to see my mother and her friends on Sunday coloring their hair, taking care of themselves so it was always a moment I liked. I loved the smell of the products and everything.
I walked into a salon and I felt a change. I started as an apprentice to a colorist. Domanique was her name. She was a real artisan. She told me, “you should be a very good colorist because they are very rare. There are just a few and your clients will be ten times more loyal if you become an expert.” At the time,a colorist was not trained to be identified by the top models yet, so color was thought of as something you did in a salon to cover gray hair.
After, when I arrived in Paris, I worked for Jean Louis David. I was 17 years old, very tall and I didn’t look too young. They loved me there. They believed I was very talented, so I worked right away at the training center and at the same time I was the one that was creating techniques for the group. I was creating techniques that were short, fast, economic, and easy. They used to say that if you pick up somebody from the street, 3 months after, they can become a colorist for our salon. Jean Louis David had a wonderful team and one of them called me to see if I could do an advertisement for L’Oreal. I was 17 years old but nobody else wanted to do the hair color at that time. It was with a top model; I started to play with the hair color. It was good that I learned to build the hair, because all these girls liked to change their hair color. They liked it because I was not ruining their hair. Right away I did my own product — oil and shampoo.
People who did my formulation, were like, “you’re crazy, you’ll never sell this product, it’s not the trend, it’s not the trend of fashion girls, a fad thing, women are busy now, you can’t do products like that where you have to wash your hair for 20 minutes.” The two first products I did, are still my best products. The lavender oil and the clarifying shampoo.
Usually oil, when it gets inside your hair, it has the tendency to remove the artificial pigments. The liquid ingredient, sylphic, most of the time stay right on your hair, they don’t always get inside. When it gets inside, it removes the color.With my oil there is Vitamin E, so when it gets into the hair, you need to leave it on an hour, minimum. It’s really a basic product that everybody should have and do it once a week.With shampoo, you do it after so your scalp – your hair – feels clean forever and shiny.
After Collette, the trendy store that opened up, wanted to my products and everybody wanted to have what Collette had, I started. I’m very proud of my product to show clients that I don’t do products just to do products. I keep the integrity of doing products and formulations that I really like and that I’ve tried. I’m so happy to see all of the products sell well. There’s not one that doesn’t sell well.
When I started to do all the models, most of the time I had no clue who they were because I was coming from the countryside and fashion for me was another world. Working with Peter [Lindbergh], I was lucky, because working with the biggest one, is always the nicest one. I was so lucky to work with [Jean-Baptiste] Modino. A lot of makeup artists helped me too, telling me, “you can do highlights as a stylist but you will never catch the eye.” There’s no contrast. That’s how I learned to break the technique. At first it was very much for the fashion people, like models Linda Evangelista, Kristen McMenamy, Stephanie Seymour, Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Carla Bruni, and then some actors and actresses came. It was good because I started to work with regular people, I work with fashion – today’s models like Laetitia Casta, Karolina Kourkova, Natasha Poly, Coco Rocha – I work with music, and I work with celebrities. It’s so nice to not only work with just one category.
I do fashion shows. We color before the fashion show,with the inspiration. Lanvin all the time, for Vuitton, Givenchy a lot, some new designer who needs help. I worked with John Galliano ever since he arrived in Paris. For Dior and Galliano.
I have no ambition. The ambition I have is to have peace, to stay true to myself, and to not be pushed. I have a wonderful life, good contracts, good money, I just want to be proud of what I am doing. You don’t have to be sure about what you want to do but if you know that you want to have peace, be happy with yourself and be proud of what you are doing, you could stop working and live in Brittany and have a restaurant by the sea. But I know that’s not going to happen.”
—Christophe Robin, colorist
~Lanvin doll trinkets found around the salon.
*All images from www.BeautyBanter.com