The 82-Year-Old Inventor of Blowouts on His Muses

Photo: Courtesy photo, Everett Collection

These days, French women are admired for their effortless beauty. They all seem to wear easy, wash-and-go hairstyles and hardly a swipe of lipstick. But there was a time when blown out, coiffed hair was the look to have; the man who started it all was hairstylist and Phyto haircare founder, Patrick Alès. It began in his Paris salon back in 1965, when he decided to break free from styling hair with hot rollers for a new technique he called le brushing. Instead of forcing hair to curl up, he created his own round brush that would allow hair to naturally fall the way it was meant to, loose, with a subtle bend at the ends. Soon enough, the likes of Jackie O and Catherine Deneuve became regulars in his chair. Now, at the wise age of 82, he’s been around long enough to have touched some seriously well-heeled heads. Click through our slideshow as he reminisces over his first meeting with Jean Seberg, plus how he got one French beauty editor’s frizzy red hair to look just like Veronica Lake’s.

Photo: Universal International Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis

Maria Montez

“I was 15 years old and was working at the prestigious Gervais Salon on Champs Élysées as a “shelf-filler.” Since I was the only Spanish-speaking employee, I was asked to help translate Maria Montez’s conversation with the stylist. My knees were shaking and I was impressed by her natural beauty, her elegance. This is when I knew I wanted to work in this environment, with such beautiful ladies.”

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Melina Mercouri

“We met at the Cannes festival for the launch of the movie, Jamais le Dimanche, then at the Garland salon in Paris. I was impressed by her natural hairstyle, her abundance of healthy, voluptuous hair.”

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Ava Gardner

“I styled her at the Garland salon. I was mesmerized by her stunning beauty, her amazing charisma, and beautiful natural dark hair with a simple hairstyle.”

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Jean Seberg

“I styled her hair while working at the Garland salon in the fifties, while my friend Jean Louis David was also working there. Her short look in Breathless was one of my favorites, as I loved her natural, pixie-style haircut. She wore it so well, even before Twiggy made the pixie famous. It brought out her eyes and beautiful lines of her neck.  It was simply beautiful and really encompassed my philosophy of a natural hair beauty. “

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Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

“Jacqueline Kennedy was simply iconic. I’m so honored to have been able to style her hair in the sixties at my salon in Paris. My long-term clients, Madame Pompidou and Madame Malraux, introduced me and my products to her, and she played an integral part in spreading the word about some of my first products like Huile D’Ales and Phyto 7 across the Atlantic. Her natural bob with the sideswept bang fit her well, framed her face, and was of course requested in the salon by all women at that time. She was quite a special woman, an American beauty.”  

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Veronica Lake

“I never styled her hair but I made a product for a client who challenged me to look like her. Janine Alleaux was a well-known and influencial beauty edior at Votre Beaute and then Marie France. She was an “Irish redhead” with really frizzy hair and she told me, “I would believe in your products the day I look like Veronica Lake.” Phytodefrisant was created; then, she did look like her.”

The 82-Year-Old Blowout Inventor on His Muses