The Swedish hairstylists behind Paris’ haute couture

Hair company Björn Axén’s hairdressers Johan Hellström and Peter Hägelstam share their impressions after Haute Couture Week in Paris.
January 31, 2022

Right before the pandemic, Hellström, who’s also the company’s CEO, got to know Stéphane Rolland. Last week, the discussions ended up in a collaboration, where Hellström and Hägelstam were responsible for the hair creations during Rolland’s Paris couture show.

— Stéphane’s collections are elegant, stylish, and futuristic, and when it comes to fabrics, he is almost like an architect, Hellström tells. He wanted something classic yet modern, an alien-like look, so we decided to create a chignon that was almost ”floating out” from the neck and head. A futuristic and weird shape that is still very classic and elegant. So, together we came up with a new shape and then also had to come up with a new technique in how to do this.

— Our hair added more to Stéphane’s looks without stealing any attention, lifting the women’s femininity and highlighting his collection, Hägelstam continues. The products we used were our saltwater spray and one of our most glossy hairsprays, called Just Right. We were generous with the spray and polished the hair’s surface to add a lot of shine. We wanted to create a glossy look where it almost looked as if water was flowing through the hair and, like Stéphane’s design language, with no abrupt ending. The form of the hairstyle reminds us of a round and smooth stone, an organic and flowing shape that complemented Stéphane’s designs. We strived for a shape that not only emphasized the femininity of the models but also lifted the neck to make room for the jewelry and a shape that embraced the fabrics.

Johan Hellström and Peter Hägelstam. All pictures: Ea Czyz.

How’d you describe Haute Couture Week in Paris?

— Absolutely amazing, Hellström states. It’s so glamourous that it’s difficult to grasp. When it comes to haute couture, this is on the highest level. Also, there’s been a great atmosphere behind the scenes — I think the pandemic has made people more humble.

— Yes, and one result of the pandemic is that there are now fewer people in the audience. This has put more pressure on who is invited, selecting only the most important guests, and giving them more room to be seen, which adds even further value to Paris Fashion Week. I believe that the week has not been reduced in terms of quality, but only in the number of people who are allowed under the same roof, making it even more exclusive and glamourous than before, says Hägelstam.

Some of the products used for the show came from Björn Axén’s recently launched exclusive line Signature.

— We turn 60 years next year, so we wanted to create a line that both celebrates what Björn Axén did but also where we are today and where we are heading as well as something that Björn himself would be proud to put his signature on, Johan Hellström tells. He continues:

— We’ve used a high concentration of very active ingredients and a fine fragrance. Our Signature dry shampoo is also the first in the world to contain Upsalite (an innovative patented mesoporous magnesium carbonate ingredient, Ed’s note), allowing it to absorb oil and dirt six more times as efficient compared to a regular dry shampoo. It does what it says on the bottle. If you want volume, it gives you volume. If you don’t want volume, it takes it away. It’s all about shiny, healthy, and good-looking hair with a high grade of function. The series is dermatologically tested and we followed the pharmacies’ extremely strict list, so it’s kind to nature and the bottles are made from 100% recycled plastic. All in all, this is a combination that is so hard to create — that is why it took us almost 4 years to make. 

Björn Axén also recently launched special Hair Rehabs at all their salons.

— We have so many clients who don’t know how to take care of their hair in the best possible way. This treatment teaches them how! We wanted to create a personalized hair treatment as it varies based on what the customer needs, explaining to them why their hair is, for instance, dry and damaged. Hair Rehab is about personalizing how to take care of your hair, by resetting and demineralising it — the treatment gives you the recipe to rebuild it and continue to have healthy hair, Hellström concludes.