Patrick Alès, a Spanish native who became one of France’s most sought-after hairdressers after inventing “Le Brushing”, a blow-drying technique for obtaining glamorous full-bodied coiffures in the 1960s, has died aged 88, his family and company said Tuesday.
“From Catherine Deneuve to Jackie Kennedy, Patrick Alès has styled the biggest celebrities and was a pioneer in creation of innovative plant-based treatments for hair,” his Alès Group said in a statement. It did not give a cause of death.
Born Jesus Gonzalez in the northern Spanish city of Santander in 1930, he fled with his family to France when he was seven to escape the brutal civil war that would bring the dictator Francisco Franco to power. While a teenager he started working as a messenger for a prominent Parisian hair salon, eventually rising through the ranks to become a star hairdresser in his own right, alongside names like Jean-Louis David and Jacques Dessange.
But it was his 1964 creation of “Le Brushing,” in which locks of wet hair are meticulously brushed while being blow dried, that secured Ales’ place in the hairdressing pantheon. The resulting hairdos exuded sophistication and luxuriousness that won over women around the world, including opera diva Maria Callas. The next year Alès opened his own salon just off the Champs-Élysées, which has remained in operation ever since.
In the early 1970s, noticing the damage inflicted on the hands of his hairdressers from some products, he launched the Phytosolba laboratories to come up with less aggressive plant-based treatments. He later branched out into skin care and cosmetics, acquiring in 1979 the Lierac labs, whose products are sold mainly in pharmacies. But despite his contributions Alès never became a household name, in part because he didn’t use it for his products or create a chain of upscale salons.
In recent years, his Alès group ran into financial turbulence, and in 2015 he stepped down as president while remaining head of the supervisory board, before handing the post to his son Romain last year.