In Conversation With Mike Desir, Hairstylist To Lily Collins And Alia Bhatt

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The man behind Lily Collin’s dreamy waves and Alia Bhatt’s perfect tresses, Mike Desir has made a name from Paris to Mumbai. He grew up with a passion for art which is what drew him towards hair dressing and hair sculpting. With 14 years of experience, lots of backstage work at fashion weeks across the globe and having worked with some of the most recognised faces in the Indian as well as international cinema, he is living his dream while juggling across India and Paris. We spoke to the hair stylist and got to know more about his journey, inspiration and some secret tips and tricks, read on to know more.

In conversation with Mike Desir

ELLE: What attracted you to the world of hairdressing and what inspires you to create?

Mike Desir: Life inspires me to create. The curiosities, the observation, the emotions, the feelings, the people, the clothes, the culture, all of it inspires me. Fashion itself has a history that inspires us. The cinematography makes us dream. We can twist our knowledge from art and painting, to bring a sense of modernity to it. Each face has a unique beauty. Every hairstyle needs a story, Everything is possible in hairdressing, you just have to imagine it.

ELLE: How did you board the Emily In Paris adventure ?

MD: The milieu (environment) in the film industry is quite small. I had met Clarisse Dominé, on the film ‘Valerian’ by Luc Besson back in 2016. She happened to be the Beauty Supervisor for Emily in Paris season 1 and  she was looking for a trendy hair stylist who knew how to build hair texture and also had some experience of working backstage at fashion weeks. That’s how she contacted me. 

ELLE: The series highlights the chic and elegant Parisian image. Is that the mood that inspired you to create Emily Cooper’s hairstyles?

MD: We wanted to create a story with Emily who is an American from Chicago. The more time she spent in France, the more she wanted to integrate the culture into her life. Emily has a very clear personality. She knows what she wants. She’s thoughtful, sparkling, passionate, determined, fashionable and she loves to seduce. It is very important to create hair styles keeping the character in mind. Her signature look is the wavy hairstyle and for events, we went with a more elegant and refined look inspired by movie icons. Inspiration was taken from 40s inspired curls, the classic 50s Grace Kelly waves and the perfect 60s high ponytail reminiscent of Brigitte Bardot. I was also heavily influenced by French fashion classics like the French banana hairstyle and braids between episodes.

ELLE: What are the main products you used to achieve Lily Collins’ hairstyles ?

MD: Lily was involved in every stage. The quality of hair is very important. The base for shiny and healthy hair is to use different shampoos and care for your hair. This varies on the hydration, repair and colour of your hair. Living Proof Colour Care Shampoo, along with their Recovery and Smooth Shampoo, Recovery Conditioner, Restorative treatment mask, as well as Living Proof Restore Your Hair Routine Bundle were part of the process.

ELLE: Do you have some beauty secrets or tips for those who would like to get into the skin of the character?

MD: I love the ‘Bumble and Bumble’ hair products that help create beautiful hairstyles that otherwise have trouble holding the curl. Use a mousse and the ‘finger dry’ technique. Blow dry the tips, or use a light layer of the ‘BB spray de Mode’ for flexible waves. The waves can be done on all lengths. The result will be a little different depending on the thickness of the iron, which will have to be adapted to the length of the hair. Apply a veil of thermal ‘BB mist’ on each strand before using the iron. After building the waves, comb with a large comb to give it a sexy look.


ELLE: What kind of a bond do you share with the stars of the series? Tell us your best memory of filming.

MD: I remember my experience on the show as if it was just yesterday. There were moments of fatigue due to the long hours, but what remains in me is all the love that we shared on the set, the incredible people who were not just creative but also respectful, joyful and hard working. Apart from all the fun and laughter that we shared between scenes there was also a deep sense of belonging. What I miss the most is the prep time spent with Lily. We developed a deep bond together. We shared our life philosophy, cultures and laughter together. The preparation  time with Lily was extremely important as it set the tone for the day. Aurélie Payen, the makeup artist, and I would start our daily ritual with a lot of serenity and positivity in order to help the team as much as possible. Two seasons later, we are more than just a team. We are a family now and I’m thankful for each of those moments.

ELLE: Lily Collins is a dream muse to work on – which are your top 5 looks that you created for her in the show and why?

MD: There were several looks depending on the event and location. In addition to her signature wavy look from season 1 that we also see in season 2, we were able to create more looks that were different from her daily routine. It is very important to have an idea, a mood, an image, a character in mind to create special moments. Another really important thing is, teamwork, with each department working to create balance.The subject and the place of the scene is considered to create a specific look which evolves according to the character’s activity. 

For example, we would mess up a hairstyle if it’s a 3 am scene for it to be more realistic. In episode 2, when Emily wakes up and finds herself in the church with the French twist updo from the previous night, we had to untwist the French classic at 30% and keep a structure. We had to find a way to strike a balance.

The hairstyle at St Tropez in episode 1 which was softer waves, tousled at 15% as if the wind and the humidity of the sea had given more texture to the hair.

Each look worked in equation with the styling. The clothes gave direction in terms of  whether we should keep the hair styled or just leave it in a contemporary manner. Like the scene at the Palace of Versailles, episode 10, a renaissance hairstyle, a braid in mixed spike intertwined with accessories. I chose clear accessories instead of flowers as I wanted to avoid giving it an Italian renaissance look. The clear hair accessory would twinkle as the light grazed the hair. 

For the scene on the bateau mouche (boat) in Episode 5, I used an accessory which was a silk scarf from ‘’. The hairstyle was inspired from the iconic Bridgette Bardot in the 60’s.

In the episode in which Emily is going to manage the opening of the restaurant, I needed a hairstyle that would give her character a dynamic and elaborate look while also naturally highlighting her beautiful face and neck.


ELLE: With the announcement of seasons 3 & 4 – How different or similar will Emily’s look be? considering there might be a job switch, will that also lead to a fresh look?

MD: Awww.. I can’t say that yet even if you tie me up. But it’s all a nice surprise, very fashionable, subtle, and modern.


ELLE: Your celebrity clientele includes some of the biggest Bollywood names like Alia Bhatt. A signature look you created that can be easily replicated?

MD: Anything is possible in hairdressing with a little experience. I started 14 years ago in fashion, assisting the greatest hairdresser in Paris and doing fashion week for years between NYC, Milan and Paris with Guido Palau, Eugene Souleymane, Paul Hanlon, Yannick D’Is. Anybody can recreate a celebrity look. Hairstyling requires a lot of technique, understanding of culture, and the curiosity to learn.  A technique that may work today may not work tomorrow. So renewing yourself is very important.

ELLE: What are some of the most common mistakes women make with their hair when it comes to styling?

MD: Among the many mistakes, here are the most common ones. 

Curling or straightening while the hair is wet. There is still an amount of moisture in the hair that will make the next stage of styling difficult. Either use a mousse or simply let your hair dry naturally before styling it.

Brushing hair from the scalp to the tips. This causes too much damage and hair breakage. It is important to start brushing gently from the bottom and then go towards the scalp.


ELLE: What are your top 3 go to hair-care products that every woman must-have

MD: Dyson’s smoothing plate – Easy to get a touch up for straightening or curling hair

Silk Scrunchie from ‘’ – It holds perfectly on thick and thin hair.  I love putting perfume on my Silk Scrunchie which diffuses a nice scent in the hair or even when you simply keep the scrunchie around your wrist.

Silk pillowcases – The friction of our hair all day long on our clothes damages them and breaks them. We can often see it on the back of our neck, the hair is shorter because of the friction of the collar of the clothing.

ELLE: Congratulations on winning the Best Contemporary Hair Styling award (TV Series) at the Hollywood Makeup Artist and hair Stylist Guild Awards! How do you feel and what does the award mean to you?

MD: This award means a lot to me. It reminded me of my journey and where I came from. As a child I would always try to honour my parents. My father passed away several years ago but I always wanted to pay tribute to him for raising me and giving me the freedom to do what makes me happy.  Always believe in yourself and your dreams!


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