By Fernie Ruano Jr.
Never mind finding room in his appointment book these days, you better be quick on your feet in order to keep up with high-styling hair dresser Julien Farel. Unless, of course, you’re Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic; for them, and an impressive array of top tennis professionals, the French stylist is the ultimate all-court, or dare we say, all-cut, player.
With his voluminous salt and pepper hair perfectly styled and impeccably dressed in gray suit and white button down, the New York-based Farel walks briskly through the corridors of the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Key Biscayne, where he has set up shop for the 2014 Sony Open Tennis tournament.
Whether it’s for a short trim or extensive makeover, Julien Farel, who counts Ivanka Trump and Lauren Bush among his celebrity clientele, has rapidly gained the trust of top players like Rafa and Nole.
It wasn’t his hairdresser’s chair (which was occupied, of course), but we managed to catch up and sit him down to talk about everything from Rafa’s short cut to Novak’s upbeat attitude when it was time to get a buzz. Unfortunately, Farel, who recently opened up a salon in Miami, was pressed for time so we didn’t get grooming tips.
How did you manage to earn the trust of some of the players?
JF: I just love tennis; I’ve always had a passion for the sport and the personalities. Being in New York (he’s owned a salon in the Big Apple since 2001 and recently opened in Miami), I got an opportunity to set up (at the 2007 U.S. Open) at the stadium there. A couple years later I cut Nadal’s hair.
Rafael had long hair when he came to you at the 2009 U.S. Open. How did you convince him to cut his hair?
JF: He wanted a shorter look, but in a sophisticated way, so I showed him some things. He was comfortable (with me), just didn’t want to lose the attitude (in the style). He has less hair, but it’s very fresh and he still has appeal. All we do is trim it, when he comes (in).
How difficult was it to touch up Novak’s hair? What did you do?
JF: Novak is very personable; you know very charming. I changed it to kind of a side, you know with one side longer now, instead of the flat tray he used to have. It’s amazing how wonderful, great hair Novak has. I always tell him if he grew it out, it would have good volume it would just take some time…patience.
What’s the most outlandish thing you’ve done to a player’s hair?
JF: Last year, Bethanie Mattek-Sands came in with purple dye and she wanted a royal blue one. That was quite colorful, but I want all the players that come (to me) to feel very good and happy when they go. Bethanie is unique and one of the things I love is making sure the players don’t lose their personalities, whatever they want done.