French hair legend Jacques Dessange died on Tuesday, January 7th – he became famous as the “Hairdresser of Movie Stars” and as the founder of the famous international hairdressing group.
Jacques Dessange was born in 1925 in central France, Souesmes, Sologne. His real name was Hubert, and learned the basic of hairdressing in his father’s salon, before going to Paris in 1945 to “style the hair of ladies in the city of light.” But the learning didn’t come easy: he had been fired twelve times in a year before being hired by a fashion stylist of the time, Louis Gervais.
Salons and Stars
In 1954, he opened his first salon on Franklin-Roosevelt Avenue, near the roundabout of the Champs Elysees. Soon after another one was opened in Tunisia, the first abroad. He appealed to many personalities by inventing the “coiffé-decoiffé”. Actresses like Brigitte Bardot, Jean Seberg, Jeanne Moreau, and many others were among a long list of celebrities he had the chance to work for.
Having attained fame in 1961, he was already well-known in the world of cinema, becoming the official hairdresser of the Cannes Film Festival. His name became popular worldwide as the hairdresser of some of the most venerated movie stars of the period, such as Liz Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, and Ava Gardner, but was also very popular young French singers like Sylvie Vartan or Sheila.
Jacques Dessange launched his “brand” in 1966 by using his name in ten salons, which soon doubled in number. Jacques increased his activities in world of hairdressing including cosmetic products, training schools, and even the manufacture of wigs. But his greatest success was the franchising contracts with experienced professionals who, for a percentage of their turnover, were able to access the name of a prestigious brand. In 1998, there were already 254 “Jacques Dessange” salons in France. There are up to 500 abroad, having opened in London for the first time in 2017.
The group also operates other franchising networks through two more affordable brands, Camille Albane and Frédéric Moreno. In 2017 this empire counted more than 1,700 salons in 43 countries and a group turnover of more than 100 million euros.
The Icons of Hairdressing
Jacques Dessange will be remembered in the history of hairdressing along with other hair icons of the 20th century who created the modern concept of the profession and left us in recent years, after a long and successful life. Jean-Louis David, the other hairdresser of the stars and franchising, died less than a year ago at the age of 85; Patrick Alés, the creator of brushing, died 2 years ago, he was 88; and Vidal Sassoon, who died at 84 more than 8 years ago.