God of Hair Jie Matar ‘scales back’ at the Four Seasons Private Residences
Since moving from Paris to Canada in 1991, famed hairstylist Jie Matar has left his clients nothing short of “Jie-afied” with his one-of-a-kind approach to tailored haircutting. The stylist’s scissor-sharp skills and infectious personality have earned him a faithful following of rich clientele, from high-profile celebs to well-heeled locals, all vying for a session with the man known to some as simply the “God of Hair.”
Brushing off the ashes of his former business, Salon Jie, which folded in 2007, a calmer, downsized version of Matar emerges at the helm of his re-vamped beauty boutique, JiE Privé, along with new digs to boot: a chic condo at the brand new Four Seasons Private Residences.
You’ve just moved out of your home in Rosedale to a compact condo in the new Four Seasons Residences in Yorkville. Is it safe to say you’re downsizing?
Jie: I’ve downsized my life, from my work environment to my home to my everything. I loved every minute of the house. It was at Castle Frank and Bloor in a great residential neighbourhood. It had four bedrooms. It was huge, but it was just too much. It’s nice to have a piece of property in Toronto, so I’m renting the house out starting in December.
You’ve been living here for only a short while and the place already looks so glam. How would you describe your decorating style?
Jie: Eclectic. The [living room chairs] are original Mies van der Rohe from the ’40s. I like things like the statue of David (the physique makes me speechless), Nefertiti (I like the power of a full woman), Napoleon, (he was a little thief, but had style). I have a statue of Josephine Baker. The rug is a real zebra from Africa. I’m not a fan of animal skin or fur, but it made the place feel so warm.
What drew you to the Four Seasons?
Jie: The pool because I love to swim. And the gym. They’re on the same floor. At the same time, the condo lifestyle can be annoying when you’re dealing with elevators, especially when you want to get to work on time. But the facilities will inspire me. It’s like living in a hotel. I want to Jie-hab myself.
Jie: When I say “Jie-hab” I mean that I don’t have to be toxic. I don’t have to be out drinking at every party. When you’re performing behind the chair everyday from 9am to 7pm with celebrities and stuff, you have to be on at all times. I have amazing, intelligent clients. With your scissors, your hair, your comb… you have to romance it.
You have to talk to your hair. You have to be sharp.
Was there a point where you ever let yourself (and work) fall to the wayside?
Jie: I’m against coming to work hung-over or toxic. I’ve never let myself come to that point. It’s my background.
I grew up in a strict family. I’m Lebanese, I’m French. Living in the Lebanese culture, you have to be disciplined all the time. I grew up in a home where you weren’t allowed to open up the fridge at certain hours. If you don’t make it to dinner, that’s it. Dinner is over. Everything is on time. I’m from a family of nine kids… seven boys, two girls. Imagine.
At what point did you acknowledge that you had to make changes in your life?
Jie: I was giving a lot and I didn’t know how to take. I got into a scene where I was at every party. I played, I partied, I touched everyone. I like to be at every event. I don’t like to be left out. But now, it’s okay. At the end of my day, I’m back to my brand. I’m back to who Jie is. When you get to a certain age, life takes charge.
Tell us about JIE Privé, your salon on Davenport Road. Would you call it a scaled-down version of your previous salon on Avenue Road, Salon Jie?
Jie: It’s bigger than Avenue Road. It has four floors, the third being my private set-up where I teach and host stars during the Toronto International Film Festival. I made the salon eclectic. I put up chandeliers, books. I started doing interior design… I made it dramatic. My personal art collection is now in my salon. I made it into a gallery.
Who are your celebrity clients?
It’s confidential. But I have about 280 stars who live in the city and overseas. From sports figures to broadcasting. Even politicians.
You were forced to file for bankruptcy and close your famed salon, Salon Jie, in 2007. What did you learn from the experience?
Jie: I lost everything. Real-estate agents coached me to go to [Avenue Road]—the wrong decision. There were struggles between contractors and designers. I learned so much from it. Project managers, mediators, lawyers, bankruptcy. I had to let the brand go. It cost $1.7 million to build after being told it would cost only $700,000. I ran so fast without watching where I was going.
How did you build everything back up?
Jie: With my hands and a great support system of clients and family like a great brother who’s next to me. Toronto made me grow.
How do you cope day in, day out?
Jie: I have my spiritual moments when I swim. I do my own Zen life in the morning. I meditate in the bath. When I touch clients I’m very pure in the morning. I never call in sick and make my brides wait.
You’ve been called the God of Hair. What’s the secret to a perfect haircut?
Jie: Technique and foundation. When people get “Jie-afied” I make them know their bone structure. I give them identity. A good haircut is like a good quality fabric. I do not follow trends because that would insult what I do. I make sure I don’t look at fashion magazines so it doesn’t interrupt my mind. I would feel like I’m cheating myself.
People always mention the cost of your services (in the range of $300-$400 for an initial cut). Do you think your prices are too high?
I hate that the most. I’m not about the money at all. I give my clients a five-star experience. Hair is the first thing you look at on a person. You look at designers like Lagerfeld. They stand on their feet as much as I do. If your budget can afford at least one pair of Louboutin shoes, then you can come to Jie one, two times a year. Anyone can see Jie. You don’t have to live in Rosedale. I have clients from Mississauga to Scarborough—housekeepers who just want to look good. Money is only [ever an issue] for people who have a lot of money.
What do you really want at the end of the day?
Jie: People are always like, “Oh, it’s all about you, Jie.” But I really want to be nobody at the end of the day. This is me, this is my lifestyle. You have to forgive, forget and walk away.
JiE Privé is located at 186 Davenport Rd. jiematar.com