You might find it strange, that one of the most rigidly trained hair-stylists in the industry today - Felix Fischer - is also one of the most expressive freehand cutters on the planet. A practice that seems defined by its improvised method, in the hands of a man who was once a child-star thanks to the intensity of russian ballet training. But just like the world’s greatest modernist painters are also some of the greatest traditional technicians, Felix understands that without technique, we are nothing. “Art has to be pushed to perfection in technique before you can let go,” explains Fischer. “Freehand comes from the inside, and because I don’t have to think about any technique anymore, I can let go.” With 18 hour days a regularity for this Swiss-born stylist, Felix embodies the NYC work ethos, with some of the world’s most famous clients in his chair.
“My mother always wanted to be a hairdresser,” explains Felix Fischer, his voice like honey to listen to. “But she was never allowed. I think she somehow passed that passion on to me. But of course, I was rebellious. So I became a ballet dancer instead.” Most kids get into tattoos and Punk music. But Felix’s dalliance with that particular genre music came much later. “One day I broke my knee during a rehearsal, and that was it: It was over. I knew then I was going to become a hairdresser, it was almost subconsciously lined up.” A four year apprenticeship in Switzerland, some tough lessons and a lot of experimentation - “I bleached my brother’s hair. It was a tiny town in Switzerland, so that was pretty adventurous.” - and before Felix knew it, he was on the journey of a lifetime. By the age of 25, he’d opened three salons in his home country of Switzerland, but it was a trip to New York City that really changed it all. “It was just a flying visit to see a friend. That was twenty years ago. A couple of agencies saw my portfolio; “When are you coming?”, they said. That was it.”
Today he’s training students in the art of freehand - working from feeling, specifically when it comes to rough, choppy and - yes, you guessed it - Punk styles. It’s this mentality of improvisation that keeps Felix’s engine running. “Change!” He explains. “The celebrities started coming after I did editorial and commercial work. New, creative people just rolling into my life. That’s what’s so great about hairdressing. I’ll be working with a classical musician one day, then an extreme performance artist like Marina Abramovic the next. People like that keep me alive.”
Felix’s unique outlook and incredible way of imparting styling secrets to his students is part of the FF Masterclass he runs. “I’m giving seminars, and I know what I want to do, but in the middle it’ll swerve off somewhere else, because I feel like I want to show something more amazing, more creative. And that’s when I start to freehand again, with education!” Felix used to be afraid of teaching, but today it’s the most natural thing in the world. “Education is so important. It’s the key for all the young, middle-aged and old hairdressers. My life would have been so much easier if I’d trained more with people better than me. I have thirty years of experience, so I have to teach.” But how can you teach Punk? - we ask.