BEAUTY Des­sange’s Parisian hair mas­ter.

Des­sange’s hair spa is heaven-sent.

ELLE (Canada) - - News - By Noreen Flana­gan

Sorry. Can’t re­spond. Am too busy SEETHING WITH EX­TREME HAIR JEAL­OUSY.” It’s not of­ten that I get this kind of email from our beauty direc­tor, Vanessa Craft. I had taken a day off from cov­er­ing the spring/sum­mer col­lec­tions in Paris to spend time at the Des­sange hair spa, and I needed to con­fess an all-too-com­mon beauty sin: I had just en­gaged in a ton­so­rial tryst, and if there was one woman who would un­der­stand that turn of events, it was Vanessa.

Ja­son le Car­rour had me the mo­ment I walked into the flag­ship Des­sange sa­lon. I ar­rived feel­ing dis­tracted and em­bar­rassed be­cause the strap on my Pierre Hardy shoe had just bro­ken. Should I fess up to my prob­lem or try to grace­fully shuf­fle my way through the day? Ja­son, who had no­ticed I was hav­ing a quiet melt­down, dis­creetly asked me to re­move my shoes and handed me some flip-flops. He then ar­ranged with my host from L’Oréal Paris to have my shoe re­paired. As the sa­lon manager, he’s clearly a pro at han­dling such h

fash­ion emer­gen­cies. “Come with me,” he said. “I’ll show you the sa­lon and then take you to the hair spa for a treat­ment.”

The “spa” is an oa­sis in a sep­a­rate area at the back of the sa­lon. I took a seat, and Ja­son gen­tly rested his hands on my shoul­ders. “Now, let’s talk about your hair,” he said in a se­ri­ous, em­pa­thetic tone that made me think I could tell him all my trou­bles and he would kindly lis­ten. “I will also make a propo­si­tion about what we can do with your cut and colour,” he told me. “You know what they say: Men pro­pose, and women de­cide whether to ac­cept.” I hadn’t planned on get­ting my hair cut, and I told him I felt a lit­tle guilty about be­ing un­faith­ful to Vic­tor, who has been my Toronto hair­styl­ist for 15-plus years. “You mean you’ve never had your hair cut by a French­man?” he asked in­cred­u­lously, as if this were a beauty rite of pas­sage I had been de­nied. “No, you’d be my first,” I replied, feel­ing a lit­tle flushed. “It is good to have some­one look at you with fresh eyes and see some­thing in you that may have been forgotten or missed,” said Ja­son. “He will un­der­stand.”

Af­ter ex­am­in­ing my hair, Ja­son ap­plied a cus­tomblended mix of es­sen­tial oils to my scalp and be­gan the most heav­enly 30-minute head mas­sage. “Your scalp is stiff,” he said. “You’re stressed. We’ll work on that.” Af­ter the mas­sage, Ja­son left for a mo­ment to mix a be­spoke “care treat­ment” based on his anal­y­sis of my scalp and hair. “We don’t call it sham­poo,” he said. “It’s more than that. It’s a unique mix of es­sen­tial oils and min­er­als from the Des­sange sa­lon line.” I then floated over to the sham­poo sta­tion (or al­tar) and sat down on the white leather lounger con­nected to the sink. “This isn’t a chair; it’s an ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Ja­son. “Lie back and en­joy.” The “chair” did in­deed come to life, gen­tly giv­ing me a shi­atsu-like neck-to-toe mas­sage. Now that I had told Ja­son my life story, I wanted to hear his. “Re­ally?” he said, as he started wash­ing my hair. “Yes,” I en­cour­aged him. “Start by telling me when you knew you wanted to be a hair­styl­ist.” He smiled and then be­gan to re­count a charm­ing tale about grow­ing up in a vil­lage in Brit­tany and know­ing, at age seven, that hair was go­ing to be his life’s work. His fa­ther—a fish­er­man—was puz­zled by his son’s in­ten­tions, but his mother un­der­stood, said Ja­son. One Christ­mas, he begged his par­ents to buy him a Bar­bie so that he could do her hair. “I spot­ted this beau­ti­ful box un­der the tree, and I was so sure it was go­ing to be my doll,” he re­called. “I opened it and burst into tears. My fa­ther had agreed to get me a doll—but it was a Ken doll with plas­tic hair! I said ‘You don’t un­der­stand that I want a doll with hair be­cause I want to be a hair­dresser!’ Days later, my mother came home with a Bar­bie Styling Head and makeup kit. I said ‘Bye-bye, Ken’ and be­came the mas­ter of hair in the neigh­bour­hood.”

At 15, Ja­son landed his first job at a Des­sange sa­lon near his home, and he has been with the com­pany ever since. “It’s a beau­ti­ful task to make some­one feel happy,” he said. “I’ve been do­ing it for 35 years, and it’s still amaz­ing.” What fol­lowed was also rather amaz­ing. In­stead of rins­ing the con­di­tioner—I mean “care treat­ment”—from my hair, Ja­son filled a blue glass vase with wa­ter from a bub­bling glass caul­dron lo­cated be­side the sink. The wa­ter, which is “pu­ri­fied and dis­tilled,” is kept at room tem­per­a­ture and re­moves im­pu­ri­ties and en­sures that the shaft of the hair lies flat. “Do you know that scene in Out of Africa where Robert Red­ford is wash­ing Meryl Streep’s hair by the river?” Ja­son asked me. “This re­minds me of that. It’s beau­ti­ful, no?” Oh, the French—they do know how to charm a woman. ■

Clock­wise, from bot­tom left: Views of the flag­ship Des­sange sa­lon in Paris; the sig­na­ture coiffé-dé­coiffé that Jac­ques Des­sange cre­ated in the ’60s; in­side the hair spa; a scene from the Des­sange Show Pres­tige an­nual hair event; Noreen with sa­lon manager Ja­son le Car­rour

They don’t come with Ja­son, but the at-home

prod­ucts (Sa­lon Color Re­store, So­lar Blonde Nat­u­rale, Oleo Mir­a­cle and Cal­i­for­nia Blonde col­lec­tions) can help you recre­ate

some of the Des­sange ex­pe­ri­ence. The 14-piece range sells for $13 to $14 each (at Shop­pers Drug Mart, shop­pers­drug­

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