Hairstylist-to-the-stars Rossano Ferretti shares his thoughts on work, creativity, and the importance of cooking.
Thirty years ago, lauded hair stylist Rossano Ferretti invented The Method, a revolutionary haircutting technique that snips according to the natural movement of an individual’s hair. His game-changing cut earned him fans like Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Moss, Jennifer Lawrence, Lady Gaga and a succession of Middle Eastern princesses. Others are on a four-month-long waiting list to get Ferretti to cut their locks.
Business requires overseeing his more than 20 salons worldwide, from Beijing to Beverly Hills and Milan to the Maldives
Ferretti, who hails from Parma, Italy, considers himself somewhat of a vagabond. Although now based in London, he travels three to four times a month for work and pleasure. Business requires overseeing his more than 20 salons worldwide, from Beijing to Beverly Hills and Milan to the Maldives—the latter is his favorite place to visit for work.
Last year, he opened a new location in New York’s landmark Fuller Building, a black-and-white sun-drenched atelier that also features stunning Madison Avenue views
In the coming months, Ferretti will debut salons in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Monte Carlo and Singapore. Last year, he opened a new location in New York’s landmark Fuller Building, a black-and-white sun-drenched atelier that also features stunning Madison Avenue views.
Ferretti also recently debuted his first-ever collection of hair-care products. Made entirely in Italy, the products use biodegradable botanical ingredients with active biotechnology instead of harsh chemicals like sulphates, parabens, and formaldehyde. The result is gentle nourishment—for example, the cleansing agents in the shampoo are similar to the ones used in contact lens solution.
Ferretti let us in on his creative process.
What inspired you to start your business?
I was a very good artist in my early years. I was drawing, painting and all my teachers were telling me I should become an architect because I had some kind of magic in my hands. Meanwhile, both my grandfather and my mother were hairstylists, and they had been trying forever to get me to be a hairdresser. I started doing shampoo in my mom’s salon. As you can imagine, doing shampoo at 13 years old is not that exciting.
It was 1975, and I was 15 –you can imagine what it’s like being a teen in London. The first bobs, and the short haircut were in style.
At a certain point my father gave me the money to try something completely different. I asked him if I could go to London, and he approved. He paid for one week of school in England and that week was all the inspiration I needed. It was 1975, and I was 15 –you can imagine what it’s like being a teen in London. The first bobs, and the short haircut were in style. That was the week that possibly gave me the inspiration to go forward. I came back to my mom, and I said yes I want to be a hairdresser. Then I started to cut the hair of every girl I knew in the world.
How did you come up with the Method?
When I was 23 and 24, I was already quite successful, already working in the fashion industry, doing catwalks. I started to think that I wanted to change the way of cutting hair. Everybody liked my haircuts, but I wasn’t so happy because it was a very symmetrical look, and I wanted to cut out the geometrical image.
I wanted to work on a tailor-made concept, which was to create a unique look through a unique haircutting method that followed the natural fall of the hair. You can cut every kind of hair by just following where it leads you.
Little by little, I understood that the hair was the protagonist—not my technique. I wanted to work on a tailor-made concept, which was to create a unique look through a unique haircutting method that followed the natural fall of the hair. You can cut every kind of hair by just following where it leads you.
You’ve had massive success and built a loyal team. What do you think makes an effective leader?
Number one, you have to prove to yourself that you are very good before you can be an example to others. Many people just don’t care. They just want to lead because they want to lead. But before you start to lead you have to be very good at what you do.
When I realized I was a good teacher, I realized I could be a good leader
I was a very successful hairdresser, making a lot of money with my first salon. I was very successful with my haircuts, working with top models and with VIPs from around the world. Then I started to teach. And when I realized I was a good teacher, I realized I could be a good leader.
How are those two connected?
If you cannot teach your team how they have to work everyday, you cannot lead them. They won’t follow you because you pay them or you tell them ‘I am the best’ or ‘I am your leader’.
96 percent of the people who started working with me over 20 years ago are still with me.
People should follow you organically because you are exceptional at what you do. My team is the most loyal in the hair industry ever. 96 percent of the people who started working with me over 20 years ago are still with me. I think that makes a good leader.
How do you stay creative?
You can grow everyday of your life and learn something new everyday, but a talent is something that is born with you.
A very good friend of mine said to me, “Rossano, I understand why you’re so successful. Because you understand beauty like no one else. You were born to be an aesthete.” I think I understand beauty and harmony and proportion. Your creativity follows your blood. You can grow everyday of your life and learn something new everyday, but a talent is something that is born with you.
What inspires you?
Everything inspires me. Many years ago, it was art. Then it was design. I would say if we follow art, design, fashion, architecture, food—inspiration is all around. Now I like to cook, and when I present my dishes you eat them with your eyes before you eat them with your mouth.
You live in London. What do you enjoy about the city?
I live in London, but I will say that Madrid and Parma will be home forever. I was born in Parma. I lived for over 10 years in Madrid. So I consider Parma and Madrid to be cities I can go everyday of my life. They’re like home. London is cool because it’s the city where anybody can live from anywhere. It’s a nice place for everyone because London welcomes people from all over the world. After Brexit, it has become quite difficult and many people are leaving. I am one of those. I’m thinking of moving somewhere where the temperature is sunnier and more beautiful.
In the meantime, while you’re still in London and since you’re a self-professed foodie, what is your favorite café to visit there?
I like QP. It’s an Italian restaurant on Dover Street. They serve Amalfi Coast style food—it’s quite good, quite original. For a big dinner, I still choose Koya and Zuma. Zuma is an old restaurant in London, but it’s very consistent. Many other cool, modern places don’t guarantee the same consistent quality of food.
What is your morning routine? What do you do first thing when you wake up?
I look at my computer. I warm my water for the tea. I don’t drink coffee.
An Italian who doesn’t drink coffee?
Since I was a boy, I have tried not to ingest anything that harms my body. I never smoked in my life. I am very clean in what I do. Mostly with my food I’m quite clean. So I have a very boring morning because I work every second, every minute [laughs]. I wake up very early. Before I get dressed, I do two or three hours of emails from the bed.
You can imagine I work with the East and the West. India and LA—everywhere. And depending on where I am sleeping, I wake up with some jobs to do from some country. Everybody from around the world is waiting for my yes or no [laughs].
How do you relax in the evening?
Now I only want to see people I know and love. I cook wherever I go. And I always travel with 30-year balsamic vinegar and organic Parmesan cheese from Parma. They make me feel at home.
I like to cook. That’s my best moment. I invite a few friends. I don’t like to go for big dinners at restaurants I don’t know. I’m sick of that. It’s not really what I want to do with my life anymore. It was fun 20 years ago. Now I only want to see people I know and love. I cook wherever I go. And I always travel with 30-year balsamic vinegar and organic Parmesan cheese from Parma. They make me feel at home.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
That would be pasta. I like to play with a variety of Mediterranean flavors: Paccheri with homemade Sicilian pesto, simple spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce or spaghetti with clams and bottarga are among my favorites. I also adore my Ligurian green pesto, which many of my friends have tried to imitate.
Tips on hosting a dinner party?
As I always say to my guests, 90 percent of the atmosphere comes from the elegance and simplicity of how I dress the table.
When organizing a dinner party, I highlight the love and passion for my home. As I always say to my guests, 90 percent of the atmosphere comes from the elegance and simplicity of how I dress the table. I regularly use natural flavors and aromas of Italian terrain, from the earth to the sea, which translate into an extraordinary culinary tradition.
Collecting wine has become a hobby of mine, so to complement the food I love to serve real, organic wines. For dessert, artisan ice cream drizzled with 30-year balsamic is always a crowd favorite. And for the grand finale, there is whiskey, Armagnac, Grappa, or a drink from my private collection, which my friends adore.