The Moroccan/Dutch hairstylist is originally from Casablanca but relocated to the Netherlands when she was young. She later went back to Morocco for a while before returning to Holland when she was a teenager. Ilham has been passionate by hair since she was a child, coming from Morroco where the women’s hair care culture is very important. She started by saying that she was fascinated by the transformation and impact that hair has on us, and she knew it was something she wanted to pursue ever since.

With many years of Fashion Week experience, hair styling for Armani, Burberry, Max Mara, Fendi Rick Owens, Ferragamo, and Zac Posen fashion shows, where she worked with world-famous celebrities and top models. She has worked close with Numéro NL, from the first issue by hairstyling some of our cover talents. Ilham Mestour is an inspirational and aspirational professional and she was announced as the new Artistic Director of Balmain Hair Couture.

On the same day, as she stepped into this new position, I had a close conversation with her and a part of the Balmain team. There Kasper Heemskerk, International Education Director, explained to us a bit more about the brand and he mentioned that Balmain Hair Couture is the first fashion brand with a hairline, making it a unique selling point of the brand. Balmain Hair Couture has a wide variety of products for all hair types, now that Ilham is entering this role, she is looking forward to what she can help improve and add to the company. She believes that creating more products directed at curly hair is one possible way to do so. Besides that Ilham Mestour has her own Dutch Beauty Academy in Amsterdam.

1. What is beauty for you?

Beauty for me is to feel comfortable in your own skin is to shine and to take care of your skin, hair and just be comfortable. It doesn’t matter what size you are, what kind of hair you are trying to embrace it and just look for the true beauty. You know, and then we can always enhance the beauty with makeup with product with tools. But if you feel miserable and unsure, it doesn’t matter what a makeup artist does, or hairstyle because it’s already in there. It should be already.

2.How do you balance the artistic with the business side now that your are embarking in a new positon?

Being an artistic director is actually 50/50, like business, but also artistic director and being creative. So of course, you know, during my whole career, I had different phases in my career. So there was a phase where I was just starting, there was a phase where I just wanted to experience, and then there is this phase where you just want to be creative, you know, and then there is a moment in your life, when you’re getting older, and you want to use all your experience and your creativity. So for me, it’s commercial + creative and finding the balance because I need to create also hair that inspire to consumer…

3. How do you keep up with the trends and changes in beauty, fashion, and so on?

I keep up because I don’t follow any trend. Okay, and honestly, sometimes working with certain brands, they ask you for a trend report and I’m diving into the trends and for me, it’s nonsense. You know, trends for me doesn’t exist. When it comes to beauty when it comes to hair. You just need to feel comfortable. And that’s I think the most important thing!

You know, everything has been done already. You know, it’s just you can see everything coming back, where we go from the 70s and 80s fashion so much nowadays. Nowadays, it’s like too much. Yeah, if you look at fashion brands, there’s a new trend every week, you know, you it’s too much for me. I’m just focused on the beauty of the person.

4. One thing about you is that you’re always trying to go beyond limit and pushing boundaries. How do yourself doing that in this new position?

Well, the thing is, no matter what I’m always pushing. I will never say like ‘Okay, I’ve done this, I reached this position right now. I can lay back and relax.’ Not at all I’m so sharp right now, you know, I’m just on it. And I need to trigger myself because once I lose this drive, and dedication and is passion and spirit, then I’m lost. And I can stop them better to just, you know, stop doing anything. So even right now in my position, I’m always triggering myself pushing my boundaries. And by that I mean to work and do some crazy issues. We’d have to go beyond you know.

5. After taking this new role what are some of goals that you still were planning on achieve?

Well, I never speak up my dreams. Okay. Yes, it’s something like you know, but for sure, today was really, really important in my life. Honestly, after 30 years of hard work and dedication, this is like a crown for all this hard work. And I just want to enjoy it right now.

6. What have made you into the professional you are today?

I know it’s pretty much a lot of my family, my background. I feel like you also have some of things where there is a lot of pressure and you know, there was a lot of oppression from my mom’s side because my dad supported me always but for her I was like her only thought that thought her and I was ashamed, you know for her being a hair dresses was a carreer that I could grow. So for me, actually, and I’m thankful for her today, you know, there was always this fire inside of me, like, I’m gonna prove you, you know, I’m gonna, I’m gonna do this and, and, but also all the people that I met in my career, who didn’t believe in me.

I’m quite thankful for that, because that gave me the power to fight, you know, and to go every day back on track on this set and working my ass off the nine sacrificing everything, because I was like, I’m gonna show them prove them wrong. You’re not wrong. Yes. So, yeah, that’s something that I think sometimes it’s even with football players or with designers, or, you know, sometimes you really need to go through shit, you know, to realize you need to fight for it.The thing is, you know, those people always were hard for me and didn’t believe in me. I think that’s those are the people who gave me the drive to to fight for it.

Text & Interview by Mariana Malheiro