Serge Normant has run his hands through the hair of pretty much every major actress in Hollywood. Julia Roberts, Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, and Blake Lively are all clients. That time Roberts won an Oscar? Normant did her updo. The crazy-huge hairpiece Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the punk-themed Met Gala? Normant made it stay on her head. He’s done countless editorial shoots, and in 2010 he released one of the best-smelling hair-care lines on the planet.
The Cut caught up with the Parisian stylist to talk about some of his favorite behind-the-scenes memories, how being obsessed with Dallas (the '80s version, not the TNT reboot) almost cost him his career, and his thoughts on current hair trends.
Who was the first celeb you ever styled?
The first one was in France, and I’m sure it will mean nothing to you. But in New York it was Linda Gray from Dallas. The first major movie star was Julia Roberts. She had just done Pretty Woman and was filming The Pelican Brief.
Were you nervous?
No, because I was very young. Being younger, I didn’t look at things the same way. I was with Herb Ritts on a shoot in Louisiana. François Nars was the makeup artist. It was a lot of strong personalities on the set. Because of that alone I wanted to make sure I was doing well for everyone. As soon as I met Julia — wow, that smile! She had worked all night long and was a little tired that morning. She was so sweet. That amazing mane of hair, for me, was like a dream. It’s something I look back on as an amazing moment in time for me.
Have you ever had to overcome any major disasters on set?
This is not necessarily a disaster, but my English was not that great at the time I moved to New York. I got a phone call from my agent, and they said, “You got a job, go to this address.” They said, “Victoria something,” and I heard, “Victoria Principal,” when it was, in fact, Victoria’s Secret. But I was so excited because I had just arrived from France, and I loved Dallas. Oh my God, I was so excited! I got to the job and Jill Goodacre and all the big girls from the time were there. I had no idea who they were. I put my stuff down, and I was waiting. The girls asked me who I was, and I said, “I’m the hair dresser." And they said, “You can start doing our hair,” and I said, “No, I’m here for Victoria Principal.” Everyone had been waiting for me. I was embarrassed beyond. It was my first job and honestly could have been my last.
What’s been the most challenging shoot or the weirdest location you’ve had to do hair?
Anytime you’re on the beach somewhere and there’s humidity and you need to make sure the hair flies perfectly and looks healthy and doesn’t get affected by the environment, that’s a challenge. Once I was doing a cover for Vogue [June 2008] with Annie Leibovitz and we were on a tiny little boat somewhere in Brooklyn trying to shoot Sarah Jessica Parker. It was very windy with big waves coming in. It was challenging. But the cover was great.
Are there any current hair trends you don’t like?
Even though I love it on Miley Cyrus, I’m a little tired of the shaved sides and mohawk-y top. I’m tired of seeing bad versions of it. And even though I love short hair and playing around with it, a lot of people have cut their hair shorter, bob-length. I’m tired of the repetition of it. But I have to admit I’m still doing it on a lot of my clients! They want it. I don’t like when everybody looks alike, though. I don’t like clones.
What will happen when everyone tries to grow those out?
Growing out bangs is already challenging enough for someone who has long hair. For the bobs with long layers, if you don’t touch it and grow it out for a while, it becomes something else that is cute as it grows out. It’s not weird like the cut with shaved sides. When that grows out it’s not pretty. You have to cut the top off to even it out. Bobs are definitely easier to grow out.