• Meeting with Claude Marcel, ambassador of the French elegance in the heart of Washington

  • Claude Marcel, founder of the famous salon & spa Coiffure & Spa Claude Marcel Coiffure in Washington, started to be passionate about hairdressing at the age of eleven. After having worked as an exclusive hairdresser for the very glamorous channel Teva for which he styled many personalities, he went on the other side of the Atlantic to work for Dessange US. We met him near the White House. 

    Clémence Phelip

  • Focus on an exceptional career

    Claude Marcel became passionate about hairdressing while observing his mother and helping his aunt in her hairdressing salon during the week-ends. Then he started his apprenticeship in the salon Jacques Dessange in Neuchâtel. His passion goes so far that he even turned his bedroom in a real hairdressing salon for his friends. Trained by Bruno Pittini, he then went to Paris to work with monsieur Dessange as an exclusive studio hairdresser for the channel Teva for which he styled many personalities from the world of fashion, politics, cinema.

    At the age of twenty-nine, he left France for the United States to work as an artistic director and training manager for Dessange USA. In 2013, he founded the salon Claude Marcel in the United States.

  • What advice could you give to start a career abroad and especially in the United States?

    I would recommend to inquire about the contractual obligations of the country. For example, in the United States, it is obligatory to have a hairdressing American valid only on the state where it has been obtained and one must renew it every year.
    One can’t work without working visa. One also needs a driving license. I also recommend to take some English lessons before departing. When I arrived to the USA, I had to take again hairdressing exams, oral and writing, but also my driving license.
    Also, the foreigners living in the United States must build up a credit history to be able to rent a flat, sign a phone contract, with the electricity company or to buy a car, etc… Without a credit history, one will not be able to go through these steps.


    What is the difference between an American and a Parisian salon?

    In a hairdressing salon in the Unites States, the hairdressers don't have an employment contract. They are free to go whenever they want without notice. Also an employer can dismiss an employee without notice. This profession doesn’t have regulations. The only obligation for a hairdresser is to have a valid license obtained in the state where they work.

    The salary of a hairdresser is between $9.00 and $10.00 per hour. The employer must give a two week vacation per year to their employees. The vacation period is not paid in the whole country. A hairdresser in the United States receives a 20% tip of the turnover in cash. They must declare it. A very well managed salon in the USA makes a net profit of 7% of the total turnover (sale of products included).

    A training with Bruno Pittini, how is it?

    Bruno Pittini has always been an icon for me and a source of inspiration in my career, even today, I use what he taught me when I create my collections. I was lucky to follow his career and to learn all his “secrets” of international creator. We can thank him for having revolutionized the world of fashion and for initiating the change in the eighties. Being able to perceive the hairstyle or the hair color which will bring out a woman or a man and will highlight their natural features is a very rare talent. The success of a haircut is not only about perfection, it is also about guiding the client and finding the perfect length, the perfect hair color and a style which evolves over the years. 

    How does a haircut take place in Claude Marcel?

    When a client enters in Claude Marcel’s, she receives a complete consultation similar to when they go to the doctor. The client completes a questionnaire about the way she treats her hair at home, the products she uses and the reason of her visit. Our role is to listen to her. After the consultation, we observe with some distance, the length of her hair, her size, the shape of her body and her style of clothes. At that moment, we show her many possibilities with a hair grip so she can understand the point of the haircut proposed.

    After that, we offer her a tea AVEDA following by a ritual which consists in massaging her shoulders, her neck and her scalp with an essential oil AVEDA. When the client is relaxed, it is time for the shampoo. With the stress of everyday life, it is important to start working in a relaxed atmosphere. I chose to use the brand AVEDA because today, organic products are very efficient and the natural trend is very popular among the “Millennials” in the United States. When the haircut and the blow dry is finished, it is time to show to the client how to reproduce the styling at home and to give the date of her next appointment.

  • What is a typical day for you?

    The morning, I start working at 10, I turn my computer on and I compare the turnover of the previous day of the salon with the last year one. I know very well the sales figures of my business and of my hairdressers. I spend fifteen minutes each week with each of my partners in order to guide them with their career.

    During the day, I supervise the training of my trainees, assistants and I take care of my clients. Our trainees and assistants are here to help the advanced hairdressers and become hairdressers in their turn. We are very strict when we choose our future hairdressers. Some days of the week, I travel to train other hairdressers for AVEDA especially in Minneapolis to develop home hairstyle products. I also share my experience to develop products for France.


    What are the last trends in terms of hairdressing?

    The colors are contrasted. There are platinum colors
    with color shades on the fringe or in transparency, for example with yellow or blue-purple. You can also have dark brown colors with shades of orange. This season AVEDA created the color Ecliptique based on the principle of an eclipse. In Claude Marcel’s, the hair worn short and the lines are very geometric. We cut the hair with extreme accuracy. Fashion is changing, this is a mix of inspirations between the movie “Star Trek”, the Courrèges trend of the eighties and the “Spornosexuel” movement. We create two Claude Marcel collections every year, one for every season: Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter. The Claude Marcel style is tailor made for each person using global trends.

    According to your experience, what are the qualities required to work on prestigious events like the Cannes Festival or the haute-couture fashion shows?

    One must be quick and able to change a hairstyle between two or three passages in front of the cameras if necessary. A hairdresser who works during the Cannes Festival or during haute-couture fashion shows must be able to do buns, night hairstyles and to style the hair for different looks less common in a salon.


    What are the benefits of your make up certification in terms of photography during your work?

    This certification helps me look at the person in a different way. I don't stop on the hair when I see her, I see this person as a whole, for example, I can see the complexion of her skin, the accessories she uses, the jewels she wears, her clothes style, her hairstyle etc… I can then think about options which will complete or change her look. This can be simply a change of length, of movement, of hair color or a detail to modify.


    Who is your hairdressing idol?

    Bruno Pittini of course.


    What is your routine when you wake up?

    The first thing that I do the morning is to prepare my breakfast with bacon, eggs, red fruits and a good French coffee!

  • Claude Marcel salon de coiffure & spa
    208 N Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314



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