French hairdresser blazes trail

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 March, 2006, 12:00am

Andre Frezouls remembers movie star Bruce Lee not only for his martial arts. He has fond memories of the actor's hair, as the kung fu superstar was one of the many celebrated clients of Rever Salon, which the French hairdresser founded in 1971.

'Bruce Lee had the typical Asian hair that tends to be coarse,' Mr Frezouls recalls.

'When Bruce Lee returned to Hong Kong from the US in the early 1970s, Rever created a new hairstyle to differentiate him from his image on US television playing the role of Kato in The Green Hornet and to give him a strong and sharp look to fit his Asian character role in Enter the Dragon, while complementing his everyday life.'

Another special former client is Victoria, whom he met during a haircut. She probably liked his touch so much that she married him. They now have two children, with Hong Kong as their home.

Mr Frezouls decided when he was 17 to earn a living using his hands and chose hairdressing.

'As a hairdresser, all you need is a pair of scissors and you can work anywhere in the world. This suited my interest in art and gave me the skill I could use during my intended travels,' he said.

The adventurous Frenchman left his home in southern France for Paris and then moved to London, where he learned that Hong Kong had no world-class hair salon.

He took the earliest flight to Hong Kong and set up Rever Salon in 1971 on a capital enough only for three months of operations.

To stand out, Mr Frezouls advertised in this newspaper back in 1972 highlighting his French training in the latest hairstyles. He did not accept walk-in clients and attended only those with advanced telephone bookings.

Thirty-five years on, local hair salons have gone a long way, Mr Frezouls says.

'The industry has changed a lot in the past 35 years. However, the main element has not changed - the key is to make sure customers are happy. In this area, there is no difference between France and Hong Kong. The most difficult part of this job is not the hairstyle but the communication skills needed to understand what exactly the clients want.'

Although he only spoke French and English, he did not find it a stumbling block. Instead, he relied on body language, which worked just as perfectly.

'Hong Kong is a good place for foreigners to set up their businesses,' said Mr Frezouls. 'People here are always on the go. The tax rate is low. It is simple and easy to register a company in Hong Kong.'

He gives credit to InvestHK and the Trade Development Council for attracting foreign investment but thinks there is room for improvement.

Also, a goods and services tax will be a concern, he adds.