Dystopian and technical, hair designer Charlie le Mindu proves how versatile a mane can be
Making hair bodies with choreographer Alexander Ekman, alien wigs for Camper and sci-fi infused latex masks, the French and London-based artist’s work is like something pulled from the future.
- Ayla Angelos
- 3 March 2020
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Even if you’ve only had half an eye on what’s been going on in the realms of fashion over the past few years, you’ve most likely landed on something created by Charlie le Mindu. There’s pretty much all of the legendary wigs of Lady Gaga, the enviable mane of Lana del Ray, as well as the sculpturesque, thick, animalistic hair and surrealist draped pieces that make up just a small chunk of his portfolio. You see, Charlie is utterly at the forefront of all things hair – and you know what they say, a barnet can quite literally change everything.
Born in France, Charlie was raised by a rugby player father and showgirl mum. “I started fashion and podium at the age of three when I was putting my mum’s fishnet tights on and dancing on a bucket listening to house music,” he tells It’s Nice That. “My mum was very creative with her jokes and I think I got inspired by this.” His upbringing was evidently polarising but influentially creative in equal measures. He also notes how those closest to him play a big part of what ignites his creativity: “I’ve always been around friends that inspire me.”
Then, like some kind of naturally fulfilled prophecy, Charlie began his career as a hair stylist at the age of 13. Slightly later on he decided to move to Berlin, where he landed his first job as a resident hairdresser in the local clubs, performing ‘live cuts’ in the likes of White Trash, RIO and Barbie Deinhoff's. This was just the beginning of his soon-to-be success.
Now working across the board, Charlie’s recent work has seen him create various pieces for runways and editorials. This includes a latex mask, titled Belle Head – one that’s been instilled with a wacky sense of rebellion and a subtle tease of sci-fi. Elsewhere, there's the infamous hair costumes for a performance piece held at the Staatsballett Berlin. Choreographed by Alexander Ekman – the Swedish ballet dancer and choreographer known internationally for his pieces in theatres, opera houses and museums – the result is a spellbinding performance where hair decorates the dancers’ legs and for others it covers their entire bodies. It’s a project that proves how diverse the notion of hair can be, where its free-flowing movement can be utilised in a performative and entertaining manner.
As for his inspirations, Charlie explains that it's his friends who can give the best advice, or “bad constructive critics”, as he calls them, continuing to refer to them as those “that will make [him] stronger”. His day tends to begin around 7am where he sits down to go through his emails, making sure that there’s a sufficient amount of loud music as his soundtrack, before dancing in the shower. “I usually do one thing at a time,” he explains of his process, “then I draw a lot, depending on the project that I’m working on. What I love is that all my days are different. From studio wig making to travelling on the road with celebs, photoshoots – it’s always fun.” Most imperative is that he toys around with a mixture of fabrics, making sure to experiment with techniques and uses, a method that allows him “to renew” himself and the work that he produces.
This experimental approach can be seen in one of his latest projects for the NHILS fashion show, exhibited in New York Fashion Week. “I had to prepare a hair pancake and create something light and graphic,” he explains, “using an iron, baking paper, hairspray and the Anti Collective product that I love.” An additional instalment sees Charlie decorate a model’s chest for fashion label Art School London, where ‘school’ has been combed and twisted into his hairy front. Further pieces include a dystopian campaign for Camper, shot my Romain Kremer and with makeup by Isamaya Ffrench. Here, the futuristic shiny-faced models are lavished in colour and no single hair is out of place. In short, his otherworldly portfolio is like something pulled from the future.