Harajuku Funk Meets Parisian Chic at Coiff1rst Salon

By Cynthia Popper
November 19, 2014
Health & Beauty

What do you get when you take a talented French hairstylist, teach her fluent Japanese, and drop her into a luxe salon in the middle of Harajuku? Meet Marianne, top stylist at Coiff1rst Salon.

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I immediately liked Coiff1rst. Tall ceilings, beautifully lit with chandeliers, the space is warm and inviting with a slightly upscale vibe. When I walked upstairs to Marianne’s styling loft, she was putting the finishing touches on a dapper Japanese fellow, both of them chatting in French. My brain interjected, This place is way too cool for me. I am so not this cool.

Once his pompadour was sculpted to perfection, he bid adieu and exited her vintage-style nook. She greeted me sweetly as I sat down and took off my beanie to reveal what she had to work with, which admittedly, wasn’t much. My baby fine hair hadn’t been properly cut in months, largely due to my lack of Japanese, and I had resorted to cutting my own bangs. Finding a stylist who could layer my hair without making me look like a molting alley cat has been the bane of my existence since moving to Japan. My hope was that Marianne had enough experience with Western hair, and spoke English well enough that I could communicate what I needed. Turns out, she’s fluent in English, French, Cantonese, and Japanese. And she’s got the requisite skill and experience to boot.

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For over 12 years, Marianne styled at the uber hip Coiff1rst salon in Paris before making the move to Japan. Japanese hairstylists undergo comprehensive studies to earn their cosmetology licenses, learning everything from physiology and chemistry to Japanese law. Taking this on, with Japanese as her fourth language, was no small sacrifice. She lived in Gunma for 18 months to raise her Japanese fluency and prepare for her board exam, making her the first French woman to hold a Japanese beautician’s license. “Can you imagine, a French girl living in Gunma? It was a crazy time- studying 5 hours a day, every day. Every single day. Would you like a glass of wine?”

Skill, style, charm: Marianne has the innate ability to put people at ease, dissolving any hair-related trauma from salons past. I had forgotten how nice it is to chat with a stylist while getting my hair done. Her own funky style, paired with her vivacious conversation skills, reminded me that going to the salon should be a relaxing and enjoyable time- not just another errand on the list.

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The result? My straggly, post-ombre locks were freed of about 2 inches of fried weirdness, leaving my hair to rest just below my collarbone. I’d been squeamish about shortening the length, but felt confident in Marianne’s chair that this was the woman to give my locks a fresh start for Fall. She cut in long layers across the back and up the sides, which added swing and movement, making my hair look thicker and fuller. Finally, she tackled my sad, overgrown, poorly self-cut bangs, fringing them out so they can be worn straight down for a proper, retro-ish look, or swept across for a more glam night out. We talked about makeup options to compliment each look, as well as how to recreate her masterful blowout at home (which I can actually do!). The final look is fresh, modern, and most importantly, healthy.

For expat girls, finding the right stylist is not an easy feat. Both Marianne and Coiff1rst are what you look for in a salon: stylish, competent, professional, and fun.

 The Deets:

Address: 4-26-35-2F,  Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-6434-0210

Hours: Call for Marianne’s available days/times