Walking past Marie-Lou & D Maison de Beaute, you may feel like you’re in the presence of a quintessential New York City salon experience in the heart of SoHo. Where the outside boasts double doors that border the outer edge of a massive bay window that serves as a peek into what could be a more beautiful life; vintage rugs, astute red leather chairs and a perfectly placed mint velvet couch show face on the inside just beyond the cusp of the celebrity favorite salon. While the storefront’s looks alone could serve as a beacon to walk through the black double doors, the knowledge of Leon Gorman, hair stylist extraordinaire, recently filling the role of Creative Director for the salon makes entrance an absolute no brainer.
Gorman, an editorial genius and right-hand man to A-list celebrities near and far, joined Marie-Lou & D’s full service salon in 2017. Beyond heading up the French-inspired salon (despite being native to Ireland himself) alongside Founder, Dharmendra Manwani, and Color Director, Tre Wyrosdick, Gorman maintains drive for his own projects, most recently, the launch of his haircare line, Leon Gorman Haircare.
As a hair connoisseur for over 30 years, not to mention one of the industry’s most in-demand session stylists, it’s safe to say that Gorman knows a thing or two about creating and maintaining healthy, gorgeous-looking hair. Thus, Leon Gorman Haircare, a line of three must-try products showcasing the power of Irish seaweed, was born. From the clean-looking green packaging and tantalizing scent, to the way Leon discusses his brand, his hair prowess over the past three decades and life in general, we knew we wanted to learn more – and thought you might want to, too.
So, without further ado, we present you with a Q & A with the one and only, Leon Gorman. You better get Marie-Lou & D on speed dial because after this read, you’re sure to want to book an appointment with the always hospitable, accented hair genius.
Viral Fashion: As one of the industry’s most in-demand stylists, did you get an education in hair, or did it come naturally for you?
Leon Gorman: Well, I never attended college if that’s what you’re asking. But I feel as though my experience as a stylist taught me everything I could’ve learned anyways.
VF: Can you touch more on that for me?
LG: After high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I went to art school for six months and studied a fine art course which I enjoyed, but wasn’t in love with. Since my father knew my heart wasn’t in it, he told me to get a trade like my mother’s (she and two of my aunties all had their own salons in Ireland, all of which I was always hanging around). He told me that it would only take three years, so I thought I might as well give it a try. Lo and behold, my mom got me a job and from then on I was absolutely hooked.
VF: It’s wonderful when things work out like that. What’s your favorite part about working with hair?
LG: I have no favorite part of the job as all parts of the job have educated me my whole life. Whether it’s clients in the salon or celebrities and models on shoots, as long as there’s clear communication, I feel that I am always learning and growing as a human being. That, as a whole, is what makes me love my job.
VF: That’s a great way to think about it. As a stylist who’s not used to being nailed down to a salon, what’s your typical day like working on your own? And now that you work at Marie-Lou & D, what’s your typical day there?
LG: I would say I have three jobs to take care of every day on a regular basis. When I am in the salon, I take care of my clients, publicists and a lot of influencers, as I am the Creative Director in the salon. As the Creative Director, I run the whole education program and create the whole image and identity of the Marie-Lou & D brand. My second job involves being represented by the Art Department Agency in NYC, LA and London. For that job I usually touch base with my three agents to find out how that schedule looks, so that I can coordinate it with salon days. Lastly, I check what’s happening with Leon Gorman Haircare. It sounds like a lot, but everything works really well together, as it all revolves around hair.
VF: That definitely sounds like a lot, but you certainly seem to have a handle on it. Speaking of all this hair styling and care, what notable names have you enjoyed working with?
LG: I have enjoyed working with people on every level, but the people that really stand out include names like Charlize Theron, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway , Lauren Hutton, Courtney Love, Ewan McGregor, Jack Huston, Chloe Sevigny, Ellen Barkin, and Michelle Monaghan, just to name a few. I also love collaborations on fashion shows – like when I worked with John Richmond, Nanette Lenore, Gabrielle Colangelo, Luisa Beccaria, Vicente Tam, and BCBG, among others. When it comes to those shows, I have really enjoyed the pressure of it all – styling 20-30 models at once, I mean, it keeps me on my toes. And then there’s the time a few years ago that I went on tour with Katy Perry in Europe for three weeks that was a lot of fun, too.
VF: Wow, that all sounds like a blast! In addition to tending to your A-list clientele, you recently launched your own hair care line, what was your inspiration behind that?
LG: It’s a very funny story. It all came to life when me and the wife were traveling around Ireland on holiday one year. I was always aware of seaweed and how popular it was in Ireland but when my wife had a seaweed bath, it changed her life. The first thing she said to me is ‘you have to make a product out of this stuff!’ She said her skin and hair had never felt so soft and shiny. So, it all comes down to that seaweed bath and my wife’s amazement at the results, paired with my love of Ireland, which is still really untouched and naturally beautiful, that motivated me to create something of my own.
VF: Seaweed huh? Apart from your wife’s reaction and its resemblance of your native land, can you tell us about why you chose seaweed as your featured ingredient?
LG: There are over 800 different types of seaweed, but in Ireland we use Kelp as it is considered a superfood due to its significant mineral content. It’s especially concentrated in iodine which is important for optimal thyroid function and metabolism. Beyond that, it’s also filled with many antioxidants and vitamins that work together to strengthen and rebuild hair.
VF: Okay, we’re sold. What are the other benefits of using seaweed in your daily hair care routine?
LG: Recent studies have explored the role of sea vegetables in estrogen-related and colon cancers, osteoarthritis, and other conditions. Researchers found that kelp can help grow new hair and slow the spread of colon and breast cancers. A compound found in kelp called Fucoidan may also prevent the spread of lung cancer and prostate cancer. This doesn’t mean that kelp should be used to cure any diseases or be considered a guaranteed protection against disease but it will help when used daily.
VF: Very cool! Currently your hair care collection consists of a shampoo, conditioner and serum. Do you imagine you’ll ever expand your line beyond that so we can get our hands on other seaweed goodies?
LG: For sure, we definitely want to expand! Seaweed is becoming more and more popular as the new superfood, and I think humans want to live healthier lives, and seaweed really fits in with that.
Well, we don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to see what other green goodness Leon comes out with next.
To stay tuned with all things Leon Gorman, be sure to click over to Instagram to follow both his stylist account, @leongorman, as well as Leon Gorman Haircare, @leongormanhaircare.
If you’d like to make an appointment at Marie-Lou & D, click here or call (212) 390-8666.