From cutting hair in a tiny village in Italy to flying in private jets to trim the tresses of brides-to-be, Rossano Ferretti has come a long way and his career is a testament to his inspiring journey. Although Ferretti does not indulge in disclosing the names of his clients, a Google search reveals an impressive list of top models, A-list celebrities, and royalty. Kate Middleton and her sister Pippa Middleton; Salma Hayek; supermodels Christy Turlington and Kate Moss; and Lady Gaga are just a few of the clients who trust their lengths with the Italian hairstylist.
The key to Ferretti’s success lies in his patented hair cutting technique, “The Method,” which is one of the two globally acclaimed methods of the last 50 years (the other being “the Sassoon”)—just don’t expect it to come cheap. A haircut from Ferretti will cost you US $1,500, making it the world’s most expensive. And while Ferretti himself doesn’t cut hair anymore (except for his friends), he has founded over 20 Rossano Ferretti salons that span from China to Los Angeles, with plans to expand to Dubai and Abu Dhabi this year.
Style.com/Arabia’s beauty writer Khaoula Ghanem sat down with the iconic hairdresser to discuss the inspiration behind The Method, his new salons in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and his views on the Arab woman’s needs.
KHAOULA GHANEM: Can you tell me a little about your Italian upbringing?
ROSSANO FERRETTI: I was born in a little village in Italy called Campagine. It had about 400 inhabitants. My grandfather was a barber, my mother was a hairdresser, and I wanted to be an architect. I loved to draw and paint—when I was 12, I would sell my paintings to my professors. I always had a sense of harmony and beauty, and aesthetics and color.
How did you transition from wanting to be an architect to becoming a hairdresser?
It was an organic process. My grandfather wanted me to attend a hairdressing school, so, I decided to go to one class and when I got there, there were 17 girls and I was the only male. The girls were one of the reasons why I returned the next day. As I started to work more and more with hair, everyone began telling me that I was born to cut hair.
Your grandfather passed the torch on to you?
Honestly, there wasn’t a lot to pass. He had a pair of scissors and two leather bags. But it was in my blood, somewhere.
When you were a child, did you ever experiment with hair?
From 15 to 20, I did nothing else. When I was 16, I went to London and attended the Sassoon Academy for a week. I didn’t speak one word of English, so there was an interpreter with me—I did the haircut alone. After the teacher saw it, he offered me a job right away.
What was it like moving alone from a small town to a cosmopolitan city at such a young age?
It was nice, but very difficult. I came from a farmhouse in a tiny village, and London wasn’t very welcoming at the time. If you were Italian 40 years ago, you were considered to be lower class.
Why did you choose London?
Sassoon was hip; it was in every beauty magazine. Moving to London represented the first time that I left my town and I was offered a job after three days. I wasn’t very interested though, because my aim was to travel the world. Beauty is a global thing; you really have to respect local cultures. For example, if you go to Los Angeles, everyone wants the L.A. blond look but no one wants that in London; you go to Paris, and they want a different blond. You have to adapt a global look to a local culture.
How was “The Method” derived?
It was a vision I had for 10 years, but a technique that I developed overnight. My goal was to create a haircut without geometry, and without seeing the cut of the scissors. I just wanted to see the natural fall of the hair, so I invented the invisible haircut.
When I was doing my last photoshoot for Versace on the island of Malta, I was with four top models and one of them was blond—I had cut her hair and bangs a week earlier. At 5am [while in Malta] I said to her, “I had a vision, I need to trim your hair,” and she was hesitant because she loved her haircut. So I told her, “Listen, I have something in mind, trust me.” It was six in the morning, we were at the beachfront of the hotel, she was sitting on a stone, and I only had a pair of scissors. I started to move my hands; the trick was to follow the natural fall of the hair. It’s my arm and body movements that cut the hair, not the scissors.
Do you teach your method to others?
Only to my team. My sister, Lorenza, teaches eight people per year in a little room that comprises four mirrors. It usually takes six months for the average student to learn. It’s like teaching an architect to work without their tools. You have to make them switch from their deep-rooted logical thinking to acting on their feelings.
What inspired you to open a salon in Dubai and Abu Dhabi?
The world and the moment inspired me. The world is changing in a very fast way and you have to adapt to it if you really want to change the industry. The market is expanding extremely rapidly in this region, so it’s a good opportunity.
You have one technique that you adapt to your clients’ needs; what do you think are the needs of Arab women?
The wealthiest people in the world are from this region and they always come to London, Paris, and New York for their shopping, beauty, and to get their haircut. The world has changed so much that you don’t need to go to Dubai to understand Middle Eastern girls. They come to your salon and you learn that their privacy is important to them, and you respect that, and adapt to that. The salon here will be in a private villa, not a hotel or a shopping mall.
What’s the most outrageous request you’ve ever received from a client?
A client had a wedding about two months ago; she bought an island and flew me out there for a week to do her hair. But that’s how it is now; this is something normal, it’s nothing special today.
Is it true that a Rossano Ferretti haircut is the most expensive in the world?
“The Method” haircut is one of the most expensive in the world, but it’s not too outrageous. If the competing hair salons are charging US $200, then we will charge US $250. However, if you want me to cut your hair, that’s a different story. But I don’t cut hair anymore—just for fun or friends.
Do you have any plans to expand your salon to other parts of the world?
Maybe Doha, after Dubai and Abu Dhabi. But right now, we’re in the places that we are meant to be. I want to maintain a sense of exclusivity as well.
Have you ever considered developing a hair products line?
Let’s talk about that in our next interview, in three months.
Are there any tips that you can give an aspiring hairdresser?
Listen to your clients’ needs, wishes, and frustrations. Spend more time listening to others. The world is changing, but still needs a lot more change in terms of customer service. People are still focused on hair trends, but how can you decide trends with a form of creative expression like your hair? Everyone is an individual; you have to think about each person’s unique beauty.