A hairdressing boss in the south of France has told The Connexion how his life has been impacted by his name: Eric Zemmour - the same as the controversial TV pundit-turned-Far Right politician running for president in April’s election.
Mr Zemmour, who has salons in Nice, Monaco and Marseille, says he is plagued by prank calls from ‘clients’ booking under names such as election candidates Jean-Luc Mélenchon or Marine Le Pen.
One of his Nice shops had its door vandalised (the name has now been removed from it and it features just a plaque of one of his partners). Another was tagged with a swastika a few years back. Workers of his brand regularly receive threats.
“I am not related to Mr Zemmour. He is in one world, I am in another. My job is to make women beautiful,” the hairdresser said.
Mr Zemmour is known for his far-right and conservative ideas including the reintroducing of school uniform as well as his provocative stances on immigrants and Islam with the notion of ‘grand remplacement’ (great replacement.)
He said that in response to the unexpected buzz over his name he was launching a new brand slogan Vive la frange (long live the fringe) - a play on Vive la France (long live France), a patriotic reference to the Revolution often employed by politicians to end speeches.
The wordplay was suggested by TV host Cyril Hanouna when he invited him to participate in his popular daily TV show ‘Touche pas a mon poste.’
Mr Zemmour said the slogan was his way of responding to “the unintelligent fringe of people” who are targeting him.
It should be noted that French hairdressing salons are often the source of regular play-on-words with the syllables ‘air’ or the letter -r spelled ‘hair’ and ‘tif’ (a slang word for hair.) Examples include: ‘Popul’Hair’, ‘Cap’Tif’ and ‘Pach’Hair’.
Support from the politician
Mr Zemmour did receive support from the election candidate on Twitter following news of the Nice shop vandalism.
“Support to my homonym against thugs” tweeted Mr Zemmour on February 14 above an article of regional newspaper Nice-Matin about the incident.
The hairdresser now hopes the election candidate would also publish a statement to dissociate him from the politician.
The tweet prompted him to appear on several national TV shows to put an end to the ambiguities that the two, who met once by chance in a Paris restaurant, could be linked.
Mr Zemmour said he would not consider changing his brand name as he had gained the trust of an international clientele for 25 years.
He is also the artistic director of Pascal Coste, owner of more than 300 hairdressing salons in France, and an ambassador for l’Oréal professionnel, the l’Oréal branch dedicated to professionals of the industry.
Mr Zemmour said despite the problems client numbers had not decreased. “I only hope people come for my skills and not only for my name,” he said. “I can accept the hardships from an economic crisis, from Covid or anything else - but not because my name is Eric Zemmour.”
Eric Zemmour is not the only presidential candidate with homonyms. Socialist Anne Hidalgo and communist Fabien Roussel are both listed with homonyms in France - as is President Emmanuel Macron,.