- Edition 9 -
I came across the term, Menasa (Middle East/North Africa/South Asia), when I first met an amazing woman named Nabila Maqsood. She was born in Pakistan, married quite young, and had two sons by the time she was twenty. She had a strong urge to become a hairdresser even as a child, so she sold her wedding jewels and went to London to the Vidal Sassoon school, not for a week or two, but for 9 months. She returned to Pakistan and began her career operating out of a room eight feet square. She has since celebrated 30 years in a business that appears to be a really big deal; she’s the Pakistani hair goddess. She travels a lot, often to Cosmoprof in Bologna, Salon International in London, the usual round of beauty events to sniff out trends. I call her ‘the Céline woman’ because she personifies quietly elegant taste, and unlike the typical Pakistani woman, wears a cool bob rather than long barrel-curls.
Anyway, she came to our studio where I made her breakfast, and I thought that Vidal would have been pleased that I talked with her because she goes back to London every single year to Sassoon, a sort of pilgrimage. She never met him, but he would have been delighted to meet her because she built her salon and barbershop empire based on his teachings. So I stood in for him, gave her some New Wash and Hair Balm, and she got very excited by the conversation and the products. It’s fascinating that this world traveller, as we like to say, got it. She now keeps buying New Wash to give to all kinds of people.
Nabila is a wonderful tribute to Vidal’s lineage, and how his method touched a middle eastern woman who might not have been let out of the ‘box,’ but she made her mark and still does. While our past Editions have focused on curls, ethnicity, short-short hair, a lot of color, and makeovers, this one is about people with roots in different parts of the world, and about how taste and style are borderless.
What we do appeals to the women profiled here; some grew up in quite a restrained way, and were not allowed to cut their hair, or color it anything but brown. So there’s a fascinating geopolitical aspect; you don't need to change countries to express your style or point of view; if anything, hairdressers need to be even clearer than ever about what makes people from anywhere in the world look good. It’s exciting; these women transcended all this regrettable violence over religion and culture, and related beautifully to us and each other. We were quite moved by their stories.
I think this Edition is a very restrained one from a hairdressing perspective; there’s no shouting. Our product philosophy that less is more is perfect for these women, and is part of the subtle style and innate good taste they all possess. They don’t want to wear lots of products, and the fuss-free hair we gave them needs to be of the best quality. Our products make that possible. Maybe we had to go halfway across the world to find our perfect market.
– Michael Gordon, Editor-in-Chief
Ed. 9, Ch. 3 | A Traveller Turns 21 | Read.