x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

'I love to love and be loved'

This much I know James David Louis is a hair stylist who lives in Dubai.

James David Louis is a hair stylist for celebrities.
James David Louis is a hair stylist for celebrities.

James David Louis is a hair stylist who lives in Dubai. I grew up in a fashionable seaside town in France called La Boule, we lived right in front of the sea. It was a very happy childhood and I had very good parents. They ran a discotheque business. To grow up there was every young person's dream. At school, I was a good student but I preferred to talk. I could have been a better student. I hated English at school and even four years ago, I couldn't really speak English. But then I got a private teacher for three weeks and my English improved. I still don't think it's very good though.

It was because of one of my older sisters that I got into hair styling - I am the youngest with three older sisters. It was like having three extra mums. I would help my sister with hair styling and that's how my passion developed. At a young age, I learnt how to do the upstyle and other ways of styling. And colouring hair is my passion too. I trained as a hair stylist in Paris with Jean Marc Maniatiz and worked with him from 1981 until 1986. His salon is very famous in Paris. I just saw an advertisement in the newspaper - he wanted an apprentice and every Tuesday he'd see me for training and the rest of the week I'd be practicing.

For seven years, I worked as a hair stylist in a salon and then I learnt how to style hair for magazine shoots. I still worked in salons in Paris - always the high-end hair salons, not the cheaper ones. Antiques are my other passion - I had two antique shops in Paris and everybody says I have good taste. I have a private collection of antiques at my house in Portugal. I go to Portugal to enjoy my other life.

I came to Dubai in 2004 to work at a five-star hotel but now I have gone freelance. I am very relaxed and comfortable here and I love my work so I don't feel like I work. I am very lucky. All my customers have a good relationship with me, they are like my friends. I like to talk to the customers and I hope I can help them too. Sometimes they help me. When you get close to someone's hair, you can understand the person too.

I have worked on all kinds of famous people - Michael Schumacher and his brother Ralf, Carolina Herrera, Mariah Carey. Kofi Annan is a gentleman, very quiet when I did his hair, he is very polite, a very nice person. I have done the hair of Marlene Jobert and her daughter Eva Green. Eva is a natural blonde but I first made her a brunette, the colour she was for Casino Royale. Members of the Saudi, Kuwaiti and Qatari royal families have also been my customers. There was one who paid for me to stay for five days at Emirates Palace just so I could do her hair whenever she wanted. Another customer flew me to Moscow for five days in June just so I could do one blow dry for one wedding. It was crazy.

In France, women tend to go to the hairdresser to feel better or when they're in a bad mood, sometimes instead of going to the doctor. But in Dubai, women tend to come to me more for special occasions or when the weather means they need a blow dry. I am the consultant hair stylist for Zuma, a new Japanese restaurant at Dubai International Finance Centre. My ideas for the hair for the staff include giving all the staff the right colours and for the men, I will make them look very cute, with some gel. I will play with the different nationalities of the staff.

I am happiest when surrounded by family and friends - I have a daughter, Celine, who is 24 and has a daughter of her own who is one-and-a-half years old and I have a son, Jonathan, who is 21. I also have eight nieces and nephews who are all living in France. I had my children very young - now I am 45 and free. I think it is good to have your children young. My goal for the future is to keep enjoying my passion for as long as I can. I love to love and to be loved - that's my philosophy on life. It's simple but it's me.