Verve catches up with French model and actor Philippe Dumas and his tres magnifique silver beard.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover would be my motto. You meet the nicest people that way.”
Your career took an unusual path from law school to advertising then films. Tell us about the journey?
I left with a master’s degree from law school, and while waiting for responses to my job applications, a friend asked if I would be interested in working on a feature movie as a trainee during that free time. I was curious to discover more about it, so thought ‘why not?’ It was fate — I worked in the movie business for 25 years.
Where do you mainly live?
Even though I travel a lot for my job, I live in Paris most of the time. I have a small apartment in the centre of Paris, which I adore. It’s a cosy little place in an old building from the last century, close to Georges Pompidou Museum.
Your beard is obviously a big part of your persona? How do you take care of it?
My beard is my signature. I am aware that it is a big reason that I am booked for projects, so am thankful, and take good care of it — I hate the scruffy look some beards have. I want it to be silky and I really like when people tell me that it smells good. I’m careful when eating — and rinse after each meal. I never trim it myself, but go once a month to the barber — always the same one as he knows the shape.
What dishes are the most challenging to eat with such a beard?
Having a long beard is challenging since all liquids are my enemies! The moustache absorbs a lot of liquid, soup is the worst. Very often when I can, I use a straw to drink. It is imperative that it remains neat and clean.
Your top three grooming tips?
Rinse your beard after every meal. Apply a mask once a week — a 20-minute mask leaves your beard smooth and silky. Apply a drop of oil daily to tame the hair, leave a nice smell and make your beard look healthy.
How do you feel about being 60?
It is just a number. People are living older now thanks to the medical progress and we can say that 60 is the new 40. What is important is to keep an open mind regarding novelties in all fields such as arts, computers, technology, and politics. By doing so, you can keep up with the youngest who won’t see you as an old person because you are on the same page, but with a great advantage: life experience. Age power!
What’s the most embarrassing moment you have had?
I was doing a fashion show in Milan and I was the smallest guy in the show. They were all 6’2” and I am only 5’9”. I really felt uncomfortable in the line. If I could have disappeared, I would have.
Can you share some of the most important lessons you’ve learnt?
The most important is not to judge anyone by their exterior look. Don’t judge a book by its cover would be my motto. You meet the nicest people that way. Also, it is important to be patient. Patience helps us navigate many problems. It allows us time to evaluate and to think. Lastly, have respect for all human beings, then the world will be at peace.
What is your favoured daily attire?
Every day I wear jeans — they are comfortable and fashionable. Depending on what you wear with them, they can be smart, casual, elegant. You can wear them with a tuxedo jacket or a t-shirt and get a completely different look. I’m also a fan of waistcoats — I have many of different colours and patterns. They work great with jeans and suit the beard, for a very cool, elegant look.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice that a wise and good friend gave me was that if health is good, nothing else matters. And he was right. Losing your keys or missing a plane is annoying, but there is no harm done. Getting cancer or losing a child, that is when you really can complain. This advice has been of great use throughout my life.
Photographer: Jean Marie Marion