Stylist Lincy Fiefie was having a great time shopping at her local Salon Centric store in the Miami area-the staff was offering samples and fun ways to experience Matrix products as part of the new "Imagining a New Store Experience" program. The program was launched recently to bring the Biolage and Total Results lines to life in new ways in Salon Centric stores. But when the Matrix store representative invited her to enter to win a trip to New York to spend a day with Matrix Artistic Director and NAHA Winner Nicholas French, Lincy at first refused. "I didn't think I'd win," she admits. "But she talked me into entering and I'm sure glad she did!"
That entry sent Lincy to New York for French's "Journey of a Lifetime"-a unique program that he created to inspire hair professionals with a comprehensive retrospective of his work and the work of his father-famed British hairstylist Freddie French. Lincy spent an intimate day with French at his home in the Hamptons, going through the stylist's massive collection of archival material and then exploring her own creativity as she interpreted French's classic techniques into modern looks.
"My father was substantial in the '30s, '40s, '50s and '60s," Nicholas explains. "He preceded Vidal Sassoon and was innovative and creative. I thought it would help young people to understand this history, so that they can take these ideas from the past and use them to start their creative engines."
When Lincy and her guest arrived at the French home, they were treated to a home-cooked breakfast and then Nicholas guided them through photos, magazines, wigs and newsreels of his father's work. He also shared his own material, including the costumes that he creates for his shows, sketches and mood boards for his collections and samples from his extensive body of award-winning work. After a break for lunch, the pair returned to the massive studio where Nicholas taught Lincy several new techniques.
"He showed me a cutting technique for extensions that he learned from his father, the 'blades of grass' cut that he used for one of his winning NAHA collections-plus two pin-up techniques," she reveals. "I was so interested because it was all new and I'm definitely going to try them on my clients. That man is a genius!"
One thing that wasn't new to Lincy was the effectiveness of Matrix products. "He didn't have to tell me about that!" she laughs. "I love Matrix products. I love Biolage-all of the lines leave the hair smelling so good. The new Biolage ExquisiteOil is great! And I love working with the Total Results Amplify Proforma Spray-it doesn't flake and it leaves the hair soft and pliable."
And even though Nicholas was the teacher and host, the entire experience was as gratifying for him as it was for Lincy. "She was very keen to master the techniques," he says. "It's so nice to see my father's techniques come to life again and be used in a modern way. Not many people know this history. I love seeing it help people grow."
This unique space in French's home in the Hamptons outside of New York City can accommodate up to 10 people for the "Journey of a Lifetime" session. One side of the space exhibits Freddie's and Nicholas' work in the form of photos, clippings, wigs, newsreels, storyboards and beyond. The other side is where Nicholas and the students get down to work.
The studio contains more than 300 show costumes; more than 150 wigs and hairpieces of all sizes, shapes and colors; more than 2 dozen mannequin heads; and three life-sized mannequins.
"People think I'm strange when they see these full-sized, naked mannequins around the place," Nicholas laughs. "But when I'm creating looks for things like NAHA and the Alternative Hair Show, I use them to evaluate the hairpieces, the clothes and beyond. They're my template and a great tool for gauging size and proportion."