Our ongoing Q&A series features Leonor Greyl superfans who share our passion for luxurious, healthy hair. We talk about their career paths, celebrity encounters, style secrets, and more.
Tony Salle, artistic director at Céron Highland Park in Dallas, grew up in the suburbs of Paris, a place, he says, where “we were not encouraged to dream big.” But dream big he did, and started down an almost-fairytale path of hard work and ambition that transformed him from a suburban Paris teenager to one of the most sought-after stylists in Dallas. We talked about hair, taking risks, the people who help us along the way, and why women of all ages should feel sexy when they leave the salon.
Leonor Greyl: When did you know you wanted to be a stylist?
Tony Salle: Pretty early! At 14 it was clear that I was not cut out for school. In an effort to help me, the school suggested I try to find a career where I could do something with my hands—culinary school, in fact. My mom warned me that if I did that I wouldn’t have free time anymore. I had a godmother who lived an amazing life, living in other countries, going to nightclubs, enjoying luxury; she had a way of telling me stories that sounded like she was in a movie. She was the one who suggested hair styling.
LG: Tell me about your training and how it shaped you as a stylist?
TS: After her suggestion, I asked my barber if I could hang out with him on my days off, and for two years I learned how to cut men’s hair. I thought I would open my own barber shop, but he told me that that life wasn’t enough. I needed to learn to do women’s hair, go to England, go to America. He was the first of many people who told me to reach for more and to move to America. Whenever I asked these people why they didn’t do it themselves, it came down to them not having the courage. But they wanted me to take a risk, and eventually I did.
First, though, he pushed me out the door and to the salon down the street. I worked with them for two years learning to style women’s and men’s hair, and then decided I needed to discover Paris and understand what doing hair in the capitol was like. I worked in a salon there, and then got accepted at Dessange International Hair Academy, which only accepts two assistants a year. After one year in the academy, I worked at Dessange international on the Champs Elysées doing salon, studio, fashion, and runway for ten years, perfecting my skills day and night. Americans sometimes came to the salon, and I got some casual job offers from them. My godmother had fed me dreams of luxury and travel and nice cars—I love Ferraris—and I could see that this dream of curiosity that I had needed to finally happen.
LG: What brought you to Dallas?
TS: When I first came to the States I landed in Miami. I had a strong connection with the city, but it seemed like a tough place to build a clientele. So I contacted a friend in Los Angeles who connected me with Frédéric Fekkai. They really wanted me to go to their salon in Dallas, but said that if I got there and changed my mind, they’d place me wherever else I wanted to go. It’s been ten years here, and I’ve made my dreams happen. I own three houses and drive a Ferrari—if I had stayed in France, that never would have happened.
LG: What is your role as artistic director at Céron?
TS: I’m responsible for the growth of the salon. My vision is to make Céron’s name even bigger and open more locations. I am in charge of the assistants’ education and helping them with their dreams like people helped me with mine, as well as staying ahead of trends and developing standards for the salon. My main focus is luxury—the respect, knowledge, and professionalism that create a luxury experience for our clients.
LG: Do you have a styling philosophy?
TS: I believe everyone is beautiful and sexy, and I am here to open the window for them to see that. There is never any “No, you cannot have that” when clients tell me what they want. I’m here for guidance and listening. I love listening to my clients because they are creative, and they know how they look all year long and what works for their lives. I’m also inspired by movies and art. As a visual person, I always get something from what I see—whether it’s watching someone go about their life, seeing art, or watching a movie—even if I don’t always know what I’m getting from it right away!
LG: What style trends are you seeing this summer?
TS: What I see is that the past is always being repeated. In Dallas there was a trend of layers a few years ago; now, no more layers. You do, you undo, you do, you undo. I have been doing a lot of bobs and lobs. But my emphasis is on sexy. Everyone between the ages of 25 and 80 needs to feel sexy when they leave the chair.
LG: Any celebrity styling encounters?
TS: Linda Gray, who played Sue Ellen Ewing on Dallas, is a client and a friend. She helps me with so many things. For many years I worked at film festivals, Fashion Week, movies, TV shows, advertising, even music videos, and styled people like Robert DeNiro, Gillian Anderson, Benicio del Toro, and Andy Garcia.
LG: How did you discover Leonor Greyl products?
TS: That’s a great story. It was at the Cannes Film Festival. One of my friends invited me to come to dinner “with some nice people.” Caroline Greyl was there, and she is extremely curious about others, so she asked me a lot about myself. I was having some problems with my scalp at the time, and she told me what was going on and what I needed to try. She gave me some products and was very generous with me. We’ve been friends for more than fifteen years. I made sure Céron integrated Leonor Greyl into the salon, and it is doing very well in Dallas.
LG: What are your go-to LG products?
TS: The Bain Volumateur aux Algues volumizing shampoo makes everything right for me. It’s very light and good for anyone with fine hair. It lathers well, cleans well, and is very soft on the hair—it creates volume but with moisture. I use it on myself, and my scalp is balanced, my hair has volume, and it gives my hair flexibility. L’Huile de Leonor Greyl is a great way to give my clients’ hair some security in between highlights. They can treat their hair for fifteen minutes or all day even and the sun, salt, and chlorine can’t touch it. Plus they can go to lunch without their hair looking crazy! Then they come back here and I can redo their highlights on healthy hair because they have been doing their homework.
There are a lot of mousses on the market and they have a reputation for making hair crunchy and dry. But the Mousse au Lotus Volumatrice is different. A little goes a long way, it’s easy to apply, and when I use it to do a blowout, the hair retains its volume. You can also use it on dry hair for touch-ups instead of hair spray and it’s healthier for your hair and scalp than all that spray. My clients love the Leonor Greyl products and often buy several at once because they come from Mexico, New York, Arkansas, and Oklahoma to get their hair done, and they want to stock up until the next time they visit. It’s a special brand.
LG: What’s your favorite Leonor Greyl product story?
TS: Hair thinning is an issue for so many people, and no one knows where to find products to help with that. I started to have thinning hair and Caroline told me about the Complexe Energisant. It was like magic happened after four weeks. It really helped my hair and now I tell everyone who needs it that they have to use those little vials!
LG: Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us, Tony!
TS: Thank you!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Follow Tony on Instagram: @tonysalle