May 10th 2016
Going South: Hair hell of a peroxide princess
November 23rd 2012
Slut-blonde used to be Imogen Edwards-Jones's signature shade. Anything else would have been just wrong. Then after a few misadventures with the bottle and a bit of balayage, she saw the light
In the olden days when I was young and firm and a fashion reporter on ITV’s This Morning With Richard and Judy, I overheard a slightly tense conversation between a researcher and Nicky Clarke, hairdresser to the stars. She was fussing with his wardrobe, asking if he wanted to pop in to a loose-fitting jean for the show. At which the celebrity snipper took one giant step backwards, flicked his leonine bob and replied: “Jeans? Don’t be ridiculous! I’m Nicky Carke, I AM leather trousers.”
Quite whether a man can be a pair of trousers is obviously a moot point. But I get where the Clarke was coming from. You see Nicky had a signature and, come rain, shine or the vagaries of fashion he was sticking to his leathers and that was that.
I am somewhat similar, although it’s not a biker leather that rocks my boat but a good old-fashioned dollop of peroxide. Ever since my mother put away the pudding bowl and kitchen scissors, and I’ve been in charge of my own hair, I’ve dyed it a not-terribly-sophisticated shade of slut-blonde.
I’ve deviated a few times. I’ve dabbled with henna. It wasn’t good. It stank, I stank and exuded all the glamour of a by-pass protester. I did also succumb to an "I’ve been chucked" nun-cut in my twenties when, in order to lower my self-esteem even more, I had the full Julie Andrews, basically ensuring that I didn’t get another boyfriend for the next three years.
But other than that I have been channelling Bananarama for the past 30 years. I’ve had a half-head, a double macchiato (hold the biscuit), three fags, a flick through Grazia, a snigger at Hello! and a shaggy blow dry, like forever. I’ve skipped like a tart from salon to salon. I didn’t mind. I had masses of thick blonde hair and I dyed it to hell and back. It is my signature.
Or it was, until I had a terrible dyeing experience in a smart West End salon, just over 18 months ago, which resulted in tears, a deep depression and a year of hair hell. Having been persuaded to ditch my usual half-head, I branched out and went for a full hair dye and some balayage (painting on the highlights like some Picasso-manqué). Anyway after ten minutes I knew it was a mistake. My scalp was burning, my head was itching and when they finally washed my hair, it stretched like ancient knicker-elastic. After about three weeks it started to snap and fall out. By the end of the summer I looked like a poorly nourished cat with mange. It was bad and depressing and made me feel truly awful. My signature was gone.
So now I pick my salons much more carefully. I am no longer beguiled by stellar names and personalised shampoos. In fact I’d rather go to somewhere a little bit more bespoke, where they don’t herd you out of the door 'feeling grateful' with a scorched scalp and pompom of frazzled orange candyfloss on your head.
Kell Skött in Lampton Place, W11, is the antithesis of all that. Alexandra, the head colourist, is charming and listens to what I want. She foils me up using Wella Ilumina with skill and speed (£98 for a half head), making sure the lightest stripes are around the front of my face. She checks her work and makes sure I’m happy with it. The handsome Mads then takes over, giving me a perfect blow dry (£45) that lasts. In fact, last time I went it still looked Hollywood glam when I attended a wedding two days later.
My signature is back. It's not so slutty and a little bit more honey-stripped sophisticated than before. But still it’s me. Finally, I have found my salon and I am not going anywhere else ever again.
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