Charlie Le Mindu: "I Like to Surprise People"

December 20, 2023

Hair artist Charlie Le Mindu, who has free rein at Samaritaine for the season, has created a gigantic, evolving artwork which puts hair and fur in the spotlight. From his love for hair and his flair for fur, to his magnificent creations for Samaritaine, Charlie Le Mindu tells all. 

How did hair, and fibers in general, become your medium of choice?
I've always been fascinated by all things hair and fur. My aunt was a hairdresser, and when I was 11, I used to sweep up at her salon. I found it beautiful. I used to watch the customers' reactions — hair creates such powerful emotions!

There doesn't seem to be a limit to what you can create with hair. Is it an infinite source of inspiration?
I just can't get tired of it, there are so many different types of hair you can work with! Whether it's for sculptures or for costumes, sometimes I'll look for Peruvian hair or Russian hair... I have got to know the specific characteristics of hair from every country.

Is creating an emotional experience from hair still important to you?
That's the purpose of my work.You have to elicit emotions and shake things up, without being shocking. I like to surprise people, to make it fun without being disturbing.

You have created a colossal exhibition for Samaritaine that continues to evolve. Can you tell us more?
Each phase corresponds to the changes we see in months until spring arrives! It all starts with a lot of fur, hair, vegetable fibers and Kanekalon in its raw, untamed state. Then everything bursts into bloom as colors, flowers and dried herbs are added. After that, I'll come to sculpt the work, braid the fibers or mold them into ridges. Finally, parts will be cut off during the harvest phase and given to visitors.

How did you come up with your "Les chevelures décoiffantes" installation?
The installation includes a dozen hanging wigs, each with different sensory features. I want to include every possible texture and push what is technically possible. I like the idea of mixing senses,and mpeople.!

Your abode is also coming to Samaritaine, which includes your bedroom, your bathroom, your living room. What’s that about?
This place is what my home could look like in my wildest, hairiest dreams. My work is inspired by the countries I've visited. There's an organic theme for the living room, Parisian-inspired gray for the bedroom, and for the bathroom, I've drawn on the 70s style for a more pop feel.

To conclude the exhibition, dancers will wear your creations and perform in store to celebrate the return of the good weather. Do you enjoy bringing together different art forms?
Dance has always been very important to me. I'm currently working with Alexander Ekman on a ballet, as well as on a project for Stravinsky's Pulcinella in Monaco. My previous

That Paris feeling with Charlie Le Mindu

His first impressions, his love of terraces, his vision for the store — the flagship artist of this spectacular season at Samaritaine reflects on his relationship with Paris.

When did you first discover Paris?I was 16 years old the first time I came here. I loved it because it was so gray! I adore brutalist architecture, and even though it's known as the City of Lights, what struck me most was the grayness of the buildings and the Eiffel Tower.

What is your greatest emotional connection to Paris?I lived here for 8 months when I was 24. I fell in love with the world of dance and started working with the Crazy Horse dancers. During those days, my favorite thing to do in Paris was to go for a walk, sit out on the terrace and watch the people go by.

What are your favorite districts in Paris now?I love Château Rouge, Marx Dormoy, Stalingrad, La Chapelle… I think those are the most authentic districts. It reminds me of New York, where you can find people of all nationalities. I love seeing people mix.

What does Samaritaine mean to you?It's where old meets new. I love the selection of big brands, like Balmain, and fresh new designers, like Cahu. I think Samaritaine just embodies Paris, which is why I love to wander around the store so much.