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July 31 2014

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4 posts tagged "U.S. Open"

Beauty-Grams From the U.S. Open: Tennis’ Mane Man

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Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are fierce competitors (which was evident in last night’s men’s final), but when it comes to getting tournament trims, they don’t mind sharing the same man: Julien Farel. While the hairstylist admitted to us in a recent interview that Nadal “doesn’t pop up” at the mini salon that’s situated next to the players’ gym at the Open (opting for a private appointment at Farel’s Manhattan location instead), Djokovic doesn’t mind the convenience of an on-site place to primp before a big match. Either way, both showed up on court with a winning look, which in my mind always separates the men from the boys.

Photos: Courtesy of Julien Farel/div>

Beauty Gram Diary: Behind the Scenes at the U.S. Open

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I admit that I was in bed long before the match between Michael Llodra and Andy Murray came to a close last night (due to a rain-interrupted day, they didn’t set foot on the court until just before 10 p.m.). However, a little drizzle didn’t keep hairstylist Julien Farel and his team from upping many a player’s glam factor at his pop-up salon. Here, he shares some of the highlights from the past few days at the grand slam:

frederiknielsen
Danish doubles and singles player Frederik Nielsen loses a few inches thanks to hairstylist Jackson Simmonds before Tuesday’s evening match. (We think it was the cut that gave him an edge—he and his partner, Eric Butorac, beat out the opposing team in the first round.)

varvaralepchenkoVarvara Lepchenko gets the five-star treatment (spa mani and pedi) before a practice session. Now, that’s our kind of warm-up.
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Farel chats up Jelena Jankovic while she has her nails done. They also talked future hair looks—perhaps we’ll see her wearing the appropriately named “net” style (below) later in the tournament.
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Photo: Courtesy of Julien Farel

Beauty Sound Bites: Double Trouble

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Tracy Austin

“Tracy Austin when she wore pigtails [is my vintage hair inspiration]. It was something we hadn’t seen before…and the first time somebody tried something [other] than a ponytail.”

Julien Farel (the man behind the hair at the U.S. Open)

Today marks the start of the stateside Grand Slam, so above we pay tribute to this hairstylist’s on-court muse. Austin—whose bouncy pigtails were as much a signature as her two-fisted backhand—won her first U.S. Open in 1979 at the age of 16 against former champion Chris Evert. Two years later, she would take home the title again, this time playing Martina Navratilova. When it comes to ponytails, we think it’s safe to say that two is a winning combination.

Photos: Getty Images

Serving Up Style

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U.S. Open - Julien Farel

Avid tennis fans may think they know the ins and outs of the U.S. Open, but what’s not visible on the grounds or broadcast on ESPN is the exclusive on-site beauty salon, which is open throughout the tournament. Located in a high-security area near the players’ gym, the space is a relaxing oasis where competitors can stop by for mani-pedis, foot massages, haircuts, and hairstyling. The space is run by Julien Farel, tennis fan and owner of an eponymous salon in midtown Manhattan. He pitched the idea to the United States Tennis Association after working at a similar pop-up salon at the French Open. August 26 marks both the first day of the tournament as well as the salon’s seventh year at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, and Farel is still as excited about the partnership as he was on day one. “I feel it’s a special privilege, because it’s a really fun event with incredible athletes. Coming from a small village in France, I would never have thought that I would ever be able to meet [the players], forget about working with them! They’re real, they’re funny, they’re young, and they have all this energy. And they want to be stylish at the same time,” Farel says. While he loves bringing his skills to the players each season, some of the pros prefer to come to him. “[Rafael] Nadal will only come [to my salon]. I do his hair in private. He doesn’t pop up,” he says. Over the years, Farel has gone from being a fan of the Spanish star to also being a friend, and he says despite his success and fame, Nadal hasn’t changed one bit. Well, except for his hair. “I am the one who transformed his hair from long to short,” Farel says.

Senior beauty editor Amber Kallor and I paid a visit to the master stylist as he was prepping to kick off another year at the Open and road-tested two of the styles ourselves (seen above). Our braids survived a brisk walk down Fifth Avenue (that counts as exercise, right?), but they also felt secure enough to withstand a round with Serena Williams. Here, Farel divulges the details behind his winning looks:

How many people do you style during the U.S. Open?

We do about fifty people a day. There’s a huge turnover. There are [hundreds] of players at first. And the way we work is first come, first serve. You have [Novak] Djokovic walking in, and I’ll say, “Sit here, I’ll be right with you.” But they know I [treat them] the same. We’re pretty efficient in how we work. A lot of the women don’t get blow-drys so it’s pretty fast. A lot of them go to training or work out after. What they really want is a cut, unless they have a press event.

So you’re not necessarily styling them for the match?

For a match, we’ll do some braiding, but you’re not going to give them a glamour blow-out. Sometimes [Maria] Sharapova will swing by for a blow-dry because she has a press event and she’s not playing. Sometimes they come if they have fifteen minutes and they want a touch-up before a TV appearance. They come more than once a week. For the guys, they might have hair that’s falling, so you have to put in a couple of bobby pins, or you have to slick the hair and apply sun protection. That takes three minutes. Some of them come for pedicures because their feet hurt. There’s not a lot of makeup, but we do nails, haircuts, and styles. We don’t do nail art.

What’s your all-time favorite hair moment out of all of the U.S. Opens you’ve worked on?

I love this season’s braid. There was a fishtail that was really nice. [Jelena] Jankovic wore that [in 2009]. And we put color into it that matched her dress. That was our idea, of course. She plays tennis, we style.

Why do you think hair and beauty have become an important part of the game?

People want to look good across the board, no matter what they do. Athletes became celebrities and they became a billboard. They wear a brand and represent a brand, and hair is a part of the picture, especially when you just carry a tennis racket and wear a T-shirt and shorts. They want a cool haircut. They want to feel comfortable, but also look the best they can. Hair, in general, is the most incredible accessory you can get on someone.

How do you test the looks after you’ve developed them?

Go dance for ten minutes and see if it moves. When they go play tennis, they want to look good, but it has to stay. I use my Flexible Gel, but when they sweat, you have to make sure the hair is tight and locked enough with some bobby pins. There’s a way I put them in (by bending both prongs down toward the apex of the pin). It’s secure; you can’t take it out. It’s locked.

What was your inspiration for the three looks this season?

We do internal contests. We all meet, and there are ten hairdressers and we divide into three teams. We focus on what we’re going to do. All the stylists come with ideas, and you pick part of each and arrive to one final look, but it’s to see the creativity of people. It’s a way to motivate everybody. It’s the same thing as when we have a fashion show and they say, “These are the clothes, what are you going to do?” Then you pick and you show the different kinds of looks. It’s teamwork. It’s very important that everyone feels part of the team, and at the same time you get major creations.

How big is your team at the Open?

We have seven people all together, but only three hairdressers. We do hair for up to fifty players a day. The rest are manicures.

What makes the braid a must-try on the court for 2013?

We’ve done braids before, but this [season] I really liked it. For the Met Ball, I styled a couple of people [where I incorporated a plait into a] mohawk, and I thought it would be a great look for the U.S. Open, especially for [players] that have shorter hair or layered hair, because you can fit everything in and lock it. You get your inspiration everywhere, that’s the bottom line. From a picture, a movie, something vintage. It’s really nice when you work as a team and you have people who feel like there’s something to look forward to. It makes them feel like they’re not just machines.

Do you work with the Williams sisters?

No, they have their own stylists. They live in my building in New York, and we pitched them this year, and they said, “We have our own people.” You know, you can’t have everyone.

Well, styling a few hundred players over the course of a grand slam comes pretty close.

Photos from top: AFP/Getty Images; Courtesy of Julien Farel