When French hair auteur Charlie LeMindu prepares for a styling session, he makes sure to pack all the essentials: scissors, dye, hair curlers–and eyeballs from the taxidermy supply store. Europe’s reigning king of crazy hair, wig maker/stylist/colorist Le Mindu also works with toothpicks, marbles, teeth whitener, and anything else he can dream up to sculpt surreal head dressings.
As pictured in the upcoming book Haute Coiffure: Charlie Le Mindu the models and their gravity-defying tresses come across like living sculptures crafted by an artist whose medium just happens to be hair follicles. Skyping from his Paris home, Le Mindu told Co.Create “It might sound arrogant to say I’m an artist. I just say I’m a gypsy. I’m always moving around and I do a bit of everything.”
Le Mindu grew up in a small French town and began cutting hair at the age of 14. “I did little old ladies hair and really learned a lot,” he says. “Even now I use very simple, classical techniques, otherwise it wouldn’t look like a good quality. In every kind of work, I think you need classic technique in order to do something crazy.”
After getting fired from five provincial hair salons, Le Mindu moved to Berlin and jumped into the city’s manic club scene with performance artist Peaches. Relocating to London in 2008, he created a giant lip wig for Lady Gaga to wear in her Bad Romance video, gave singer Florence Welch her blazing red hair and crafted outrageous wigs for fashion runway models. In 2010 he caused an uproar with his own clothes-free Detox Retox Botox revue. “I don’t do clothes so in my shows, the models are naked and they always wear wigs,” Le Mindu explains. “I’m not going to make any clothes for them to wear because that would distract from the hair.”
Inspired by John Waters, Pedro Almadovar, modern architecture, and punk rock, Le Mindu and his team continually look for new ways to re-configure old hair. For a London fashion show, he brought out the eyeballs after creating a perfect but relatively conventional bouffant for one of the models. “On the day of the shoot I had the taxidermy eyes with me in my kit, so I just popped them in. And then I thought, it would be really funny to put an animal on top of her head.”
Check out the slideshow to see 12 astonishing hair sculptures accompanied by Le Mindu’s own commentary about the methods behind his wigged out creations.