Balmain Paris Hair Couture’s Education Manager on runway hair, the latest tress trends, and drugstore offerings

Balmain Paris Hair Couture’s Education Manager on runway hair, the latest tress trends, and drugstore offerings

Hairy business

Text: Emily Heng

Image: Instagram | @balmainhaircouture

What you see is what you get. If we were to live by that theory alone, it stands to reason, then, that luxury beauty is the epitome of quality. Think about it: Christian Louboutin and Hermès Beauty don't just make lipsticks, they craft objet d'art; Les Merveilleuses Ladurée doesn't want you to rogue your cheeks with any ol' pot blush, instead, you dust your mien with a (literal) bed of petals; whereas Dyson stores their coveted dryers in buttery-soft leather cases.

Presentation matters, alright — but the truth of it is that it can also obscure, acting as a smokescreen to the real value of a product. So, how can one discern between the cream of the crop and an outright con? You can look to a voice of authority (us), the opinion of a trusted friend (your favourite influencers), or the reputation of the brand in question.

If they have years of professional experience, prove fluent in their field, and have earned critical acclaim worldwide, we'd say it's likely that they're the real deal. Perhaps it's why we were convinced — almost instantly — of the legitimacy of Balmain Paris Hair Couture. Unlike most fashion houses, the brand has expanded into hair rather than makeup, citing over 40 years of heritage and know-how when it comes to mane maintenance. Kasper Heemskerk, Education Manager of Balmain Paris Hair Couture, dishes the dirt on the science behind first-rate locks, the hair must-haves in a hot and humid climate, and more.

How did you guys get your start in the hair care business?
Our professional experience in hair design originates from the early 1970s, when wigs were very much in fashion. Other famous fashion houses also had their own wig lines. At that time Pierre Balmain, founder of the Balmain Fashion House, sought out Dick Guliker, a Dutch wigmaker and the previous owner of the company, to create a range of hairpieces that complemented his clothing designs.

In 1974, Dick Guliker officially started the company, licensing the Balmain name. After the popularity of wigs, the company focussed on hair extensions and, later on, care and styling products, tools, and so on.

Is Balmain more focused on developing products that help create runway hair looks or day-to-day styles?
Both. I'd say the biggest difference between the two is that a runway look is only created for a 15-minute fashion show. Clients sometimes like to wear a specific style for more than a day. It really depends, though — some runway looks can work perfectly for day-to-day wear. It all comes down to the time and effort a client is willing to spent on her hair.

Do people tend to have misconceptions about runway hair?
Runway hair can look effortless. And therefore, clients assume it is effortless. But to create the perfect runway look requires a lot of skill and, most importantly, exertions to create a head of full, healthy-looking hair.

What about misconceptions about hair in general?
The biggest misconception that people have is that hair can repair itself like our skin does. Hair is technically dead and needs the help of conditioners, oils, and proteins to recreate a youthful appearance.

Would you say that you pay for what you get when it comes to haircare products?
Yes. Look at the differences between luxury hair cosmetics and drugstores ones, if you will. It all boils down to the raw materials and the amount of active ingredients used. Besides that, the packaging is more luxurious and often more sustainable. More importantly, however, is the emotion and brand value that is connected with luxury hair products. The products offer an experience. By using the products, consumers are connecting with the brand.

What are some Balmain Paris Hair Couture products you'd recommend for someone living in a hot and humid climate?
Protecting the hair with the right products is vital in hot and humid climates. Always use the right shampoo and conditioner for your specific hair type. I'd say Moisturizing Care is good for healthy to dry hair, while Revitalizing Care is perfect for damaged and brittle hair. The Overnight Repair Serum and Sun Protection Spray, on the other hand, is great for locking-in moisture and protecting the hair from the big climate changes inside and outside.

Are there Balmain Paris Hair Couture products you're planning on creating, but haven't got around to yet?
We're aiming to launch a Balmain Hair Homme collection. Essentially, it's a collection of grooming products made exclusively for men. All products will be perfumed with the intense oriental, and woody fragrance of Balmain Homme that combines the invigorating citric freshness of bergamot with the woody aspect of dry sandalwood.

What do you hope to see from the hair industry five years from now?
As the world's only hair label derived from a fashion house, it'd be great if we'd be the authority in hair couture when it comes to session stylists, salon professionals and consumers by offering a total mono-brand concept.

Balmain Paris Hair Couture has been with Net-a-Porter for a number of years, hence it must be a relationship that works for both companies. Why do you think this is so?
We aim for the same customer group. Net-a-Porter is well known among the Balmain clientele as well as with high-end fashion lovers.

You have certainly seen the Net-a-Porter customer grow and evolve over the years. From your perspective, how have they changed and how are they the same?
We see they have changed from being only interested in fashion to a much broader scope of products, including haircare and styling. And we have seen a larger audience internationally that has interest in purchasing high-end hair care items online.