‘You cannot modify hair’ – Rossano Ferretti brings his organic haircuts to the UAE

From a tiny village in Italy, the forthright stylist has opened hair spas in some of the most prestigious locations around the world, and pioneered a whole new way of cutting hair. We meet him ahead of the launch of his salons in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Celebrated hairstylist Rossano Ferretti opened a salon in Dubai last month, with one in Abu Dhabi planned for April. Courtesy Rossano Ferretti
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Rossano Ferretti talks about his “Method” like it is some kind of cult. “Our academy is only open for our team. We don’t sell our Method. Either you are part of the Method or you are not part of the Method. It’s like a little family club.”

The Method is, in fact, a system of cutting hair that Ferretti and his sister have spent the last two decades developing. “This is not a marketing story,” Ferretti tells me, but it can be difficult to cut through the spin. There’s much talk of “invisible haircuts” and “beauty revolutions”, but, in essence, Ferretti’s Method eschews trends, over-styling and unnecessarily complex techniques in favour of an organic, natural cut that enhances the innate fall of the hair.

“Everybody tries to modify hair,” he says forcefully. “It’s impossible. You cannot modify hair. You cannot modify a tree, you cannot modify the moon, you cannot modify nature. If you go against nature, you destroy nature. If you go against the hair, you destroy the hair. Full stop.

“In terms of the technical aspect, the haircut before Rossano was a technical and geometric cut. I wasn’t happy because you could see the cut, the layers, the way it was done. You could basically see the scissors in the hair. The haircut with Rossano is custom-made and follows the natural fall of the hair. So, basically, you don’t chop the hair, you follow the hair with the scissors, and the scissors become a prolongation of the hair.”

Ferretti operates 20 salons around the world, in such high-profile and diverse locations as London’s Mayfair, the Four Seasons hotel at Landaa Giraavaru in the Maldives, and the Fuller Building in New York. I meet him ahead of the launch of his first salon in Dubai, which is due to open in March in a villa opposite the Four Seasons on Jumeirah Beach Road. An Abu Dhabi location will follow at the end of April, with a larger, 800-square-metre villa space on Al Karama Street. It is likely that he will garner quite the following in the UAE, particularly in the capital, where the industry is underserved.

“We are here to break the way of how it is today,” he tells me. “It is a phenomenal opportunity for us and a phenomenal opportunity for the market as well. I think we can change the rules. We are here to educate the market, basically.”

Ferretti treads a very thin line (knowingly and unashamedly, I dare say) between supreme confidence and unabated arrogance. He admits that people thought he was crazy when he first launched his Method, but he takes this as a compliment. “You have to be crazy. If you are not a crazy genius, how can you change things? How can you make things better? There was a man that was crazy and he put an apple on a computer. He failed four times before he was successful, but he was a visionary. And I am a visionary in my industry.”

Ferretti’s unlikely journey began in Campegine, a tiny Italian village in the province of Reggio Emilia with a population of 500 people. His grandfather, Renato, was a barber, who either worked in the village square or did house calls on his Lambretta; his mother, Giliola, opened her two-chair salon in the village in 1962. Ferretti followed in their footsteps at the age of 14, when he went to beauty school, and a year later made a trip to London that, by all accounts, changed the course of his life.

“Everybody thinks I was in London for years, but I was there for a week. Because in a week’s time, I achieved to make a haircut that everybody else took six months to one year to achieve. And it was my first haircut. So I realised I was blessed, I was gifted, I had something different from other boys. And I said to my mum, maybe I can be a hairdresser.”

He opened his first salon – or hair spa – in Parma nearly two-and-a-half decades ago. “It’s a 14th-century apartment on the first floor in Parma, with no signboard on the street. Everybody was asking: ‘How will people find you?’ And I said: ‘They will look for me, don’t worry.’ If you don’t know who I am, you don’t need to know who I am.”

Trouble is, he was right. A lot of people know who he is. He has written books, won awards, been featured in countless magazines, and became a spokesperson for L’Oréal in 2012. Although his has been dubbed “the most expensive haircut in the world”, prices in the UAE start at Dh300 for a standard cut. His client list includes the likes of Angelina Jolie, Eva Mendes, Lady Gaga, Kate Middleton, Salma Hayek, Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon, but he redeems himself by refusing to spill any of their secrets. “I’ve never mentioned any of them, and I’m not interested in talking about them. When they ask me, I say I don’t know. For me, every girl is unique and every girl is a celebrity.”

To book an appointment, or set up a home service, call 054 402 7373.

Read this and more stories in Luxury magazine, out with The National on Thursday, March 2.