From when they first started styling hair, Charlie Le Mindu tells us, they have always rejected the idea of gender. In fact, they even refused to work in a salon for that reason. “I am against gendered prices in the beauty industry,” they say. “Against a woman’s haircut being more expensive than a man’s haircut, even though women make a fraction of what men make.”
It's their belief that hair should not be based on gender, but rather on playfulness and making a statement, that forms the basis for Le Mindu’s new collaboration with photographer Marcus Cooper.
Titled ‘I’m Somebody Special,’ the photo series takes a joyful, askew approach to beauty, experimenting with colours, shapes, and textures to express and enhance the spirit of each model. Le Mindu even played around with using skincare products in the hair, mixing products and pigments to creative effect.
“When I am given complete creative freedom, I am naturally inspired by the personality of the subject. I’m always trying to match the vibe that each person exudes,” Le Mindu explains. “Marcus and I wanted to create characters with either a definite identity or no identity at all. Each look could be from anywhere, any decade, any subcultures. A look that fits everywhere.”
In Cooper, Le Mindu found a kindred spirit, describing him as a big hair lover. “It’s so rare for a photographer to have the same vision when it comes to beauty and share the same sentiment towards hair design.”
While Le Mindu’s work has always had a strong sense of playfulness – of never following the rules, of pushing the boundaries of convention and gravity to fascinating results – they say the need for lightness and fun is more important than ever now. “During quarantine, I saw a lot of people creating new wigs and intense make-up looks. People just want to have fun within their confined spaces.”
Photography Marcus Cooper, hair Charlie Le Mindu, hair assistant Virginie Lola, make-up Alexandra Fragga, styling Damaris Valverde, production design Isaac Aaron, casting Anthony De La Rosa, talent Maxwell Kazakoff @IMG, Tripp Kilpatrick @ Vision, James Baek @ Select, Sethu @ Two, Erik Sathrum @ Photogenics, Julien Crane @ Photogenics, John V @ Nomad