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The French creative, whose influences include everything from pagan rituals and techno, to mythology and plastic surgery, has created wigs, masks, garments and sculptures out of hair, Le Mindu’s preferred medium.

Image credit: Jérôme Lobato

 Moving between the realms of fashion, art, theatre and installation, Le Mindu’s pieces are equally at home on catwalks and in museums, and are popular with artists including Lady Gaga, Peaches and Rossy de Palma. Hairstylist, artist, designer… his practice is hard to define or label. Le Mindu prefers “coiffuriste”, a term coined by French choreographer Philippe Decouflé.

Le Mindu often describes the spirit of punk as the lifeblood of his work, and his pieces embody the same rebellious nature of this movement. Whether he is sending models down the runway in braided burkas, or draped in thick, animalistic hair, his creations never fail to create a spectacle or spark controversy, as he transforms his muses into surreal masked characters, as seductive as they are monstrous.

“He didn't know what else to call me” he explains, “for him it means an artist who works with the medium of hair, to do whatever they want”.
Image credit: Alice Rosati (for Lampoon Magazine)

We meet Le Mindu at his latest exhibition, Sculptures Capillaires, in a former submarine base in Bordeaux. The location holds a special significance for Le Mindu – Bordeaux was where he started cutting hair in his early teens, in what he describes as “a grandmother salon. Very old ladies, lots of perms and rinses”. Moving to Berlin at seventeen with little grasp of the German language, he did what he knew best – cut hair. He’d do cuts in bars after hours, and styled the club kids and drag queens of iconic Berlin haunts like Berghain and Barbie Deinhoff’s, quickly becoming immersed in Berlin’s wild club scene.

In many ways London, where he spent eight years following Berlin, became the defining city for Le Mindu’s work. Inspired by the city’s creativity and the ‘new rave’ movement of the mid Noughties, he soon began to make waves in the fashion world. Launching his own label at London Fashion Week, collaborations with Lady Gaga, Lana del Rey and Florence and the Machine soon followed. He subsequently debuted a further eight collections, and worked on projects with Selfridges, Liberty’s and Harrods.

Image credits: Olivier Ouadah for Hairdreams (Cabaret Paris Hait Gris at Fondation Cartier)
“I have always been influenced by film-makers like John Waters and Pedro Almodovar. I love their casting the most. They celebrate individuality, and they don’t shy away from ugly, crazy characters”
Charlie Le Mindu, Haute Coiffure
Image credits: Olivier Ouadah (Charliewood supported by Hairdreams, Palais de Tokyo, Mars 2016)

Now based in Paris, in recent years his focus has shifted from the catwalk and more towards performance and theatre. He prefers to adorn dancers and performers than models with his creations. In order to come alive, “hair needs movement” he explains. Working exclusively with the same nine dancers from Parisian cabaret Crazy Horse, they featured in his recent show Charliewood at Palais de Tokyo. A surreal and heady immersive event – part exhibition, part rave – it featured, amongst other things, dancers covered head to toe in hair and the transsexual pornstar Allanah Star dressed as a chicken.

“It was great!  Le Mindu says of the experience, “I created a club in a contemporary art museum. It was really me… music, having fun, getting a little dirty sometimes. There was almost no limit”.
Image credit: Olivier Ouadah (Charliewood supported by Hairdreams, Palais de Tokyo, Mars 2016)
Image credit: Olivier Ouadah (Charliewood supported by Hairdreams, Palais de Tokyo, Mars 2016)
Image credit: Olivier Ouadah (Charliewood supported by Hairdreams, Palais de Tokyo, Mars 2016)
What’s in store for the future?
Le Mindu laughs and says that his biggest dream is still to make a wig for the Eiffel Tower. “I think it’s possible” he muses, “I just need a lot of hair… all the hair in the world.”
Image credits: Valérie Mezzanotti (Stronger by Charlie Le Mindu, supported by Hairdreams)

Text Emma de Clercq
Video Antonio Celotto
Images Jérôme Lobato, Valérie Mezzanotti, Olivier Ouadah, Alice Rosati
Special Thanks Charlie Le Mindu Website charlielemindu.com

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