John Nollet is the rock-star hair wizard behind actor Johnny Depp's dreadlocks for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean (a character loosely based on the antics of another rock star—Keith Richards), in addition to creating actress Audrey Tautou's famous bob for her role in Amélie. Now he wants to make every woman’s hair look as sexy as if she had been making love for hours. Photographs by Dylan Don. Directed by Robert Rabensteiner. Additional photographs by Getty Images.
“The hair, for everybody, is the most amazing fashion accessory,” says French hairstylist John Nollet. “Women love to buy themselves designer shoes or couture dresses, but at the end of the day, the most glamorous thing they have is their hair.”
Born in the north of France in 1970, Nollet’s passion for hair is just as strong as his achievements in styling it. And whether you know his name or not, there is no doubt you’ve seen his work come alive on the printed page, the red carpet, or the silver screen.
Nollet’s impressive client roster includes such magazines as French Vogue and Elle as well as storied fashion houses Chanel and Dior. He has styled both Uma Thurman’s and Marion Cotillard’s hair for the Oscars, among countless others. He’s been brought on film sets too, tasked with transforming Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, and Audrey Tautou for their respective roles in Pirates of the Caribbean, Nine, and Amélie.
“This haircut was something that changed my life,” Nollet says of Tautou’s famous bob. “I was thinking about this for her because, in my mind, this character couldn’t find five minutes for herself. It was just her point of view on life—she was taking care of the others,” he says of his vision for Amélie. “Of course,” he adds, “I didn’t imagine the impact of this hair,” which went on to become a fan favorite when the film came out in 2001.
But for Nollet, hair is part of a movie’s overall narrative. “When you are working for the cinema, you try to create some character with the hair. It’s the final touch.”
It’s this kind of thoughtfulness that is standard in Nollet’s process, regardless of the project or the client. “Each woman has her own message,” he says, which he suggests can be instantly transformed through simple adjustments to the hair. As a result, a cut with Nollet is always an intimate experience and usually lasts about two hours. “When you do good hair, it’s always with someone—it’s like a dance. I need to feel in the mirror someone with me. I don’t want to feel alone with the hair.”
As time-consuming as one session with Nollet can be, the very root of his method lies in the search for an effortless beauty and a bit of messiness: “I love when the hair is done and the woman looks like she has been making love for four hours.”
And now, after a year of crisscrossing the globe styling hair, thanks to a partnership with the Park Hyatt hotel group and Louis Vuitton, Nollet has set up permanent shop at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme—aptly called Hair Room Service by John Nollet in Suite 101. The space, which was designed in collaboration with Le Coadic-Scotto, is arranged around the stylist’s three custom Louis Vuitton trunks and composed of five private booths that enable clients like Vanessa Paradis and Cotillard to come and go as they please.
With so many miles traveled and coifs styled, it would seem Nollet might start to slow down. Not so. “I just turned 41,” he says. “I feel like I am just getting started.” —Sasha Levine