On the fifth floor of The Webster lies the chicest new hair salon in New York City’s Soho—a neighborhood already replete with high-end hair offerings. David Mallett opened the proverbial doors to his first New York City salon on October 16th—and New Yorkers have welcomed him with open arms. On a rainy Friday night just days before Christmas when the revered Mallett himself is in town examining my hair, and pointing out a mysterious stripe of discoloration in my faux red hair, and discussing how to correct it with Giorgio, his top colorist. I look like I’m running neighborhood errands on a Saturday (again, it’s raining), Mallett is wearing ⅔ of a three-piece suit. As he examines the sad state of my hair color, he rapidly alternates between speaking French with his beloved, and equally respected staff and English (with his native Australian accent) to me. A select group of top stylists and colorists (his right-hands) fly halfway across the world every 2 weeks to work between his two Paris salons, one, a small seven-seater in the Ritz Carlton adjacent to the Chanel spa, and the other, the original, much larger one at 14 rue Notre Dame des Victoires—and now, New York City.
It was already two years ago that Laure Heriard Dubreuil (The Webster’s founder) showed Mallett the 5th floor of her new property. And while renovations were costly and ran late, Mallett loves his new space “Laure is a client. She's one of the most charming women I've ever met in my life,” he says. At first, he notes, he didn’t take the opportunity seriously: “she brought me in and she showed me this small room, and I was like, ‘yeah, yeah’ and then she took me to the 5th floor and I was like, ‘Wow, what's this?’ She said, ‘It's my office. And I was like, ‘I want this.’ And she was like, ‘It's yours.’ And I thought, uh-oh, what did I just say? And then it began.
DAVID MALLET HAIR SALON / NEW YORK CITY
The gorgeous salon was designed by French architect, Charles Zana, who customized the tables, chairs, and every other detail in the space. Mallett was pleasantly surprised by the warm reception the big apple has given him—flash forward a few short months and he’s already working on further expanding the new space—and finding himself an apartment nearby. He says he feels reinvigorated, almost like he’s back at the beginning of his career (except, his name is already not only trusted, but revered).
Mallett’s career started in 1982. He grew up in Australia, in a “very traditional, big Catholic Australian family.” He wasn’t “too bad in school,” so his parents hoped he’d “go on to do something that they considered serious, meaning being an engineer or doctor or lawyer,” but thanks to magazines like Interview, The Face, and ID, which he’d order from England to the “very, very, very, very isolated city of Perth,” where he grew up in the 70s, Mallett found himself inspired by hair, makeup, photography, film, rock music, and icons like Debbie Harry and Patti Smith. Through the world of editorial, an obsession with hair was born. So he taught himself, starting at age 16, by practicing on his sister and her friends.
Mallett’s talent was immediately evident—by 21 he’d won “Australian Hairdresser of the Year,” and armed with this accolade, ran off and moved to England where he did his first shoot with Greta Scacchi, and never looked back.
Some 15 years later and Mallett had (kind of) settled in Paris, adopting the city as his own, but constantly traveling due to the demands of editorial hairstyling.
By 2003, around the time his son was born, he decided to “settle down,” and lay down his roots in Paris with the launch of his flagship Paris salon. “I decided I didn't want to travel so constantly anymore. I wanted to have a different type of contact with people that wasn't like a five-day experience—it was an hour-long experience, much shorter, and allowed me to satisfy people in another way,” Mallett explains of his namesake business’s beginnings.
When his salon opened, there were none of the iconic sleek black bottles with minimal text that exist today—Mallett housed his favorite products, cherry-picked over the previous 2 decades of his career in unmarked bottles: “We didn't sell products or promote products in the salon. We refused. That was very much part of our image. We didn't want to force purchases on people nor did we want to commit to one line” he says.
But many of his clients, he found, were dealing with dry, frizzy hair and looking for a way to help hydrate it, without weighing it down. So he decided to formulate a quick and easy to use solution—hence the creation of the original product, Hair Serum #DM027. The name is a reflection of the 27 tries it took to get the product right. To test it, Mallett brought it to Botswana, where he was working on the infamous Pirelli Calendar, where he was able to test it on the top models in the world, including Daria Werbowy. To this day, the serum remains a bestseller.
Once Mallett returned to Paris, feeling confident in his creation, he self-financed it, and started to sell it in his salon exclusively. But then, the now-shuttered, then-iconic Colette came knocking. Sarah Andelman, the concept store’s co-founder, and also Mallett’s client, had heard the buzz and asked if they could sell it in the shop. Before long, Giambattista Valli followed—offering VIP clients the serum at his atelier, as a thank you gift of sorts. Needless to say, it took off. Nine years later, Mallett’s line has expanded to 19 products, with a handful of new launches to look forward to.
Written by: Sara Spruch-Feiner
March 6th, 2019