Haute Couture for hair comes to Beaver Creek
Guests and locals can now taste the “Pascal” technique. After setting up shop in Aspen in November, French hairstylist Pascal Bensimon will also cast his spell in Beaver Creek.
It’s 7 p.m. Sunday and after doing the hair of seven women, French hairstylist Pascal Bensimon rubs his assistant’s shoulder and flashing a perfect white smile asks:
“Did you have fun?”
For the way they talk to each other, Crystal Rich, Bensimon’s assistant, and Bensimon himself, who has been doing this job for 27 years, end their workday as if they had just skied powder at Beaver Creek for three hours.
Bensimon’s clients leave his chair as if they had been in the hands of a sculptor.
“It’s fabulous, Pascal,” exclaims Holly Kenney, after Bensimon and Rich blow-dry her hair as if she were a model ready to hit the Christian Dior runway.
Kenney, who was among those who came for a first consultation with Bensimon, said she was ready to drive all the way to Aspen to see him at Pascal, the salon he opened in November on East Hyman Street.
“I’ve lived here for eight years and I’ve seen 11 different hairdressers,” Kenney says. “Nobody has really fulfilled me.”
For Bensimon most of hair dressers are “hair choppers,” not designers.
When a client approaches him, Bensimon says he doesn’t miss what shoes she is wearing, her outfit, the shape of her shoulders and neck, her makeup and the way she moves.
“The secret to a hairstylist’s success is understanding women,” says Bensimon, the former director of the Jacques Dessange Salon on Park Avenue in New York. Bensimon’s scissors have traveled through the hair of French actress Catherine Deneuve, former model Jerry Hall, Meryl Streep, Don Johnson and Queen Noor of Jordan. He’s also done and cut models’ hair at fashion shows in Europe.
“I miss that, when you have two minutes to make a model’s hair complement her dress,” he says. “But I learned a lot doing that.”
Bensimon trained in Paris at the Jacques Dessange organization, one of the most renowned hairstylist organization in the world, where he apprenticed with Bruno Pettini, one of the world’s foremost hairdressers. Since then, Bensimon has invented his own technique which he teaches throughout the United States.
“You see her chin line?” asks Bensimon before taking a snip with his scissors. “And look here at her neck. She is very thin and her hair will complement her body shape.”
Being in the hands of Bensimon is a mix of being studied by a painter and getting a massage. His eyes never leaves the contour of the head of his client, nor do his hands and arms, which seem to embrace the whole head.
“A woman’s face is like a painting. Her face is the light and her hair is the shadow,” he says.
For Bensimon, most people have a perfect length that complements their body and personality.
“The same length haircut can be styled in eight different ways,” Bensimon says.
Bensimon also custom designs each clients’ hair color using his own method called a balyage, which is combing streaks of highlights following the shape of the head. The result is hair color you’d receive after lying about for two weeks in the Caribbean.
“The key is respecting the skin tone,” Bensimon says.
Local hairstylist Mona Aguilar, owner of Posh! Hair Salon, a two-chair salon in Beaver Creek, had the idea to invite Bensimon to the valley to share her space four days a month. Bensimon is planning to come two Sundays and Mondays a month.
“There are about 60 hairstylists in the valley, but I believe there’s a need for somebody such as Pascal,” Aguilar says. “The world comes to Vail, including one of the world’s top hairstylists.”
Still, those visiting Aspen can take a peek at Bensimon’s place there overlooking the mountains.
“People walk in the salon and ask: Where is it? Where is the salon? It looks like a living room,” says Rich, Bensimon’s apprentice of four years. “The washing chair, for example, is a massage table that we have set up.”
Although getting under Bensimon’s spell isn’t cheap – price varies according to the length – for Bensimon, more than cost it’s an investment on your beauty. And his clients left Posh! Sunday as if they had just gotten a complete makeover, which could have cost thousands of dollars. Plus, Bensimon swears his color and hair cuts last months.
“It’s cheaper to get it here than to fly to New York,” Bensimon says. “With the right color, you don’t need makeup and with the right haircut you don’t need a face-lift.”
When he’s finished doing Deanna Turner’s hair, another client from Arrowhead, Turner is beaming. Every hair seems to complement her facial features, giving her a feminine and sexy look.
“I don’t feel like going home,” she tells her friend Holly Kenney with a confident smile.
Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.