French Lessons: Nicholas French Skyfall Academy in Palm Springs, CA

Celebrated hairdresser Nicholas French offers a two-day retreat at his home in Palm Springs, CA.

There aren’t too many hairdressers with a pedigree like Nicholas French’s. His father was the famed British hairdresser Freddy French, whose grand salon was a magnet for the most fashionable women in London in the 1960s. For a while, Nick followed in his famous father’s footsteps, opening several salons in the U.K. Then he set his sights on a different kind of life, moving to the U.S. where he expanded his interests to include print, video and film. As Matrix artistic director, he has traveled extensively, producing more than 1,500 high-energy educational events for professional hairdressers worldwide. For the past few years, Nick has held retreats at his home in the Hamptons for a small group of hairdressers looking to refine their skills. Recently, he and his wife bought a house in Palm Springs, CA, that Nick describes as a retreat. “It’s a very creative space where people can escape and really concentrate on their creativity,” says Nick, who plans to offer two-day retreats there in late summer or early fall that will emphasize cutting, finishing, dress work and long hair.

The first class Nick will offer in Palm Springs is Up, Up and Away, which is designed to teach the basics of dressy updos. “My father did incredible dress work,” says Nick, who plans to offer demonstrations on models and mannequin heads on Day One. Day Two is typically hands-on. “I have little play areas with mannequin heads where students can try things without feeling intimidated,” says Nick, who is just as happy to have people stand back and observe if they are so inclined.


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Back to the Future is another two-day class that Nick will be offering in Palm Springs. “It’s a historical journey of my father and myself,” says Nick, who will share photographs and news footage of his father at work. Expect the trip down memory lane to be both informative and inspirational. “I have actual Vogue magazine covers that my father did.” On Day One, the emphasis will be on cutting and dress work techniques. On Day Two, expect to work on mannequin heads.

So if you’re willing to invest in yourself and your career, visit for more information, but remember that classes are limited to no more than 15 people. Still on the fence? Consider this advice from the master himself: “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice your craft.” ✂ —Marianne Doughert