Atelier Benoît Poirier d'Ambreville

Eyeing the next challenge

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It has been three years since we caught up with Benoît Poirier d’Ambreville, who departed from working with A-list clients in the northern hemisphere to open a salon in the exclusive suburb of Bellavista in Santiago, Chile. Seeing a demand for luxury, Poirier d’Ambreville offered not only hair consultations, colouring and treatments, but gourmet snacks, beverages and pampering, in English, French and Spanish.

But he has been eyeing up Australia, and a reality tv show might even be on the cards for the hairstylist who understands style, taste and hard work.

How does your modelling and styling background influence your work at your salon?
To have been a international model who was signed with two major agencies, one in London, the other in New York, and after been working on photo shoots for international magazines and backstage on high-end runway, I totally did get influence in my daily life and my salon work. A client of Atelier Benoît Poirier d’Ambreville will not be following the trend but will be part of the few who will be trend-setters: that is usually a privilege reserved to people involved in the upscale fashion industry. As you know, I always work a fashion capital such as London, Milano, and New York. My grandparents from my mother’s side used to have a couture house called Mademoiselle de Paris, and was the official provider for exclusive and rare textiles, for example, the Jean Patou couture house and other important ones.

I was invited by the fashion council in October 2006 to Moscow Fashion Week from New York, to share my opinions of the industry there after working in front and behind the camera for runway events.

I flew from New York to la three years in a row, to create elaborate up-dos for celebrities during the red carpets event of the Oscars’ award ceremony.

So my clients from different backgrounds will always get a look which they will feel is different and unique, and which will correspond to their lifestyle.

With such a diverse background, what was the biggest lesson you learnt in your career to this day?
I am now 44 years old. It took me 38 years to comprehend and, most importantly, accept (which was not easy because of the ego part each human possesses) that I cannot please everybody!

We could be a group of eight persons sharing the same meal, and one of us is not going to appreciate one of the dishes. It does not that mean that that particular food is not good, only (and thank God) that we all have different tastes, which makes this planet a wonder. When a case as such appears [where I cannot please that client], I will not try to convince the client then they look good, but try to find a stylist who would correspond to the needs of that person.
At the end she won’t be my client any more, but a happy person directed to the appropriate helper, which is a win–win situation.

What is your vision for your salon (especially as one of the first luxury hair salons in Chile)? What are your plans for Australia?
The vision from my salon is actually to be a example for future salons opening in Chile and existing ones, then we always can do better, from the service, the place and the experience we provide. To learn, share, and evolve are the keys for success.

As for the Australian hair industry, it has been doing fine until this day without me, but in my salon in Chile, where 70 per cent of my clients are foreigners, the majority of the English-speaking ones are from Australia because of the mining business. They have been raving about my services and, from my part, I am missing a more Anglo-Saxon lifestyle. I reached the decision to take the idea and the us practice of a bi-coastal stylist to a new approach: to work as a guest colourist in Sydney in a upscale salon, and work and be the owner of mine in Santiago, back and forth.
Who influences your style the most?

It won’t be who but what; art, creativity, street style, unwearable styles in magazine and runways, I will transform it to a more down-toearth style and recreate to a wearable, unique new style. Then my clients again feel unique, different, and become a trend-setter. My style will be described as a instant classic, instead of being too trendy, which quickly fades out and become the “was so five minutes ago”.

Already well known for your balayage hair colouring technique, do you plan on developing any new styles or techniques?
New techniques, probably not, but I am working on developing my own line of hair pigmentation colour for highlights, which will revolutionize a new era of colour and perception; then hair colour becomes an expression and an accessory to a person and lifestyle.

What are the biggest benefits as a luxury hair salon?
For the owner and collaborators, it is to always assume you know nothing and can do better; for the clients, to appreciate an experience which takes them through a indulging, dreamy journey, which can be beneficial with all the impediments of daily life. I always see luxury as an escape from a morose quotidian reality.

How about the biggest challenges you face?
Damn, the big question! To find a collaborator and employers who will take seriously their involvement, the level of the quality of their services, and the passion which supposedly drive them to excel at what they do. Secondly, when you are supposed to be on top (with so many other deserving talented people), to stay there, and always see how you could grow to be beneficial for yourself and your entourage, clients and team.

What is the one thing you want your customers to get out of the salon experience?
From us, to offer them a realistic goal and vision of what we can provide, and actually to promise them less but deliver more, so the relationship of trust and honesty will be based on strong, solid expectations. This honest approach will get you, right away, devoted, loyal clients.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? Is the salon your final goal or do you hope to explore into something new in the future?

I am creating and developing my own reality–documentary tv show here in Chile with Endemol, the largest independent television and digital media production company in the world. It comprises a global network of around 90 companies in more than 30 countries and is headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It will be a mix of The Apprentice, Top Chef and The Rachel Zoe Project, but based in the hair and fashion industries. It will be a Latin American competition and the winner, after being rigorously trained by me, could open an Atelier Benoit Poirier d’Ambreville luxury salon at the capital of their origin country, and start a upscale franchise of my exclusive salon-style establishment in South America.

Any final comments to Lucire readers?
One when I was asked which hairstylists in New York I admired. I simply responded, ‘Which ones? The famous ones or the talented ones? Because the variety and number of unknown super-talented hairdressers who are passionate and skilled is enormous but the media only speak over and over about a few chosen ones. It does not matter if they work in a highend, fashionable salon, most important is the satisfaction and excellent service this person provides you. As a gratitude, make sure he or she does know how happy you are, and please share your delight with those surrounding you, to keep this person busy.

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