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This Could Be Your Job: Stylist to the Stars

Rachel Zupek, Writer

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Julien Farel’s haircuts aren’t cheap – especially if you expect to get an appointment at two o’clock in the morning.

“I was contacted by the St. Regis [hotel] because their guest, a prince, requested me,” Farel says. The original appointment was scheduled for 6 p.m. but it kept getting pushed back because the client wasn’t ready. Farel finally arrived at the hotel at 1 a.m. only to sit in front of a glass of water for almost an hour. 

“They took away all the tools I brought with me and gave me new scissors and combs to use with him. After we were finished, the bill came to $3,600 for 30 minutes of real work,” Farel says.

As a stylist to the stars and owner of his own salon in New York, Farel, 39, is asked to do crazy things like this all the time. For him, it’s just another day.

Life hasn’t always been so hectic for Farel. After graduating from beauty school in 1989, he began styling hair for women in the French Alps. There, he attracted the attention of styling icon Jacques Dessange.

“[He] noticed my personality and told me he would teach me my job,” Farel recalls. “He asked me to join him.”

Life changed drastically for Farel after that. He worked with Dessange for 10 years before he was asked to lead Dessange’s training program in New York. While there, Frederic Fekkai, a renowned stylist, appointed Farel “cutting designer” and “floor supervisor” at his Chanel-owned salon. Given his success training stylists in both New York and Los Angeles, in 2001 Farel “knew the time was right to open the doors of my own salon, where I could provide the attention to detail that my clients craved.”

Farel joined forces with two close friends; he now owns the Julien Farel Salon and his clientele includes an elite list of celebrities, powerful business people and everyday New York men and women.

“Opening my own salon and seeing my name on Madison Avenue was always a dream,” Farel says. “To see it happen still fills me with such pride.”

Farel believes in creating the ultimate experience for his clients, whether it’s enjoying a manicure or having their hair colored. Clients don’t just buy a color or a haircut; they come for the experience, he says.

“From the very beginning of my career, I’ve always believed that there is elegance in paying attention to every detail in the way that I cut and in the way that our clients are treated,” Farel says. “It is a very close relationship, that of a stylist and a client. My clients know I want them to feel their best inside and outside.”

In fact, Farel’s favorite part of his job is making sure that women and men feel confident in knowing they look their best. Knowing that, Farel says, they can achieve everything they want out of life.

And the worst part of his job? Knowing he can’t be in more than one place at one time.

Parties, premieres and fashion shows, oh my!
It’s a conundrum Farel faces often. Catering to a client roster that reads much like a who’s who in Tinseltown means one thing: countless events that require celebrities looking fabulous.

“I tell my staff that clients must be treated like royalty,” Farel says. “Every woman and man that comes here wants to be pampered and look better than they could have imagined, whether they are walking the red carpet or strolling Central Park.”

Last summer, Farel’s salon was chosen to pamper the players and coaches participating in the 2007 US Open (tennis). Other busy times for the salon include Fashion Week, award show season, magazine photo shoots, movie premieres and of course, parties – Farel’s choice event to style for.

His favorite event was styling actress Salma Hayek’s hair for the 2007 Costume Institute Gala.

“Salma was pregnant at the time and when she hit the red carpet, many people remarked that she’d never looked so beautiful,” Farel says.

As for the upcoming Oscars?

“Styling for top events is always last minute, and usually dress decisions aren’t made until the last day,” Farel says. “I like to see what my client is in the mood for.”

Celebrity stardom
The first time Farel worked with a celebrity felt like a “fairy tale,” but now it’s second nature. With clientele including, but not limited to, Hayek, America Ferrara, Richard Gere, Michael J. Fox, Paris Hilton, Anna Wintour, Peter Gallagher and Christy Turlington, Farel views them just like any other clients in his salon who need to look great.

“Knowing that the look I create for them will be splashed across dozens of magazines across the country and on television programs only fuels my desire for perfection,” Farel says. “I believe in making everyone look like a movie star or a million dollars.”

This could be your job.

Interested in a career as a stylist?  Lucky for you, personal appearance occupations like stylists and cosmetologists will grow faster than average at 14 percent from 2006 through 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Stylist positions like Farel's are most prominent in areas like Los Angeles and New York, where many celebrities live.

Most states require stylists to complete a program in a state-licensed cosmetology school; qualifications for a license vary by state. 

Many stylists, like Farel, begin their careers working in salons managed by others; but 46 percent are self-employed and own their own salon. Owning your own salon generally comes after several years experience and building up a steady clientele. Otherwise, many stylists lease booth space or a chair from a salon's owner.

You can do it, too.
There is no secret to success – there’s just determination, Farel says.

“Keep in contact with the best, meet people engaged in the best and experience the best,” he says. “Be willing to take risks. Never do too much too soon. Like Jerry Maguire said, ‘Do your job with heart, life will give you the rest.’”

Rachel Zupek is a writer and blogger for She researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues.

Last Updated: 25/02/2008 - 12:02 PM

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