After three decades of long hair Imogen Edwards-Jones goes for the chop with hairdresser to the stars George Northwood
“I need it to look good with vodka,” I say, taking a swig of fizzy water and shovelling in a fistful of complimentary popcorn. “You know, slutty? Like I have just got up? If you make me look like a mum on the school run, with one of those thermo mugs of latte in the front, and Precious, all belted and buckled in the back, I will personally kill you.”
“Ok,” he nods, running his hands through my hair. “I hear you.”
I am sitting in the basement of 24, Wells Street, W1, talking to the sublimely talented snipper-to the-stars, George Northwood , about my hair, and frankly, between you, me and this very popular website, I have a bit of a sweat on. And it’s not hormonal, it’s hair related. Having had long blonde hair all my life and I really mean all of it, I am about to go for The Chop.
Well, short hair is super, tres fashionable these days, isn’t it? Simply every Cheryl, Jennifer, Sienna, Michelle and Kim is at it. And I am nothing, if not guided by Grazia. In fact, after me, there will really be only Gwynnie left sporting the long, poker straight, WAG wig that is so very last Tuesday. However, even if I know I am in the best hands possible – George is the go-to-hair stylist for all the beautiful young things – from Alexa Chung to Rosie Huntington-Whiteley – that does nothing really to allay the nerves.
From the early dawn of time, from Margret Dolphin’s on Henley High Street, where I first had my hair layered, to Headquarters on the Worcester Rd, Great Malvern where I first had my Bananarama root perm, to Scissors on the Kings Road, where they dolled out free highlights, only to disabuse me of a modelling career: all that time, all those years, I have been long. For over three decades, I have had the sort of long messy hair that looked as though I’d blow-dried it in the bath, only for the apparatus to tumble in. I had waking-up-in-a-skip hair. Dancing-on-a-podium hair. Fagging by-the-bike-sheds-hair. I have managed to get to the wrong side of 45 and I have never been chic.
“So slutty is an interesting word,” says George, as he picks up his scissors and slices six inches off my hair, in one swift move. “We’ve never been asked for slutty.”
“Oh my God!” I squeal, my hands flat on my cheeks, my mouth open like an accommodating inflatable doll. “You are BRUTAL!”
“It’s better this way,” he smiles. “There’s no turning back now.”
Palpitating, he hands me over to the charming Phoebe whose job it is to make my now short hair look blonde and sun kissed and good with vodka. She takes a paintbrush and palate-load of blonde, bleach and honey-colour and balayages the buttocks off every strand, most importantly around my ageing and totally sweated face. Then, once I am washed and treated with a Redkin gloss treatment I am returned to the master snipper.
Now George is not one of those garrulous hairdressers who asks you about the very depths of your pant drawer. He is far too focused for that. In fact, I would go so far as to say he goes into a tantric trance when snipping. His eyes glaze over as he ducks and dives and chops. Forget the backchat - here, it’s all about the hair.
And boy does he cut, a lot. Strand after strand, skein after skein all fall into my lap, as I bite the side of my mouth, ever-so bravely, gripping on to my seat. My head down, staring at a lifetime’s worth of hair cultivation, all I am thinking about is the ‘this-is-SO-super’ face I am going to have to pull when I look up.
“There,” he says, giving my short side-parted fringe a little flick. “Slutty enough for you?”
Sweet Lord above... Wow! What has the man done?
Firstly, I don’t recognise myself. Secondly, I looked a good ten years younger. Thirdly, I look fun, jaunty, slutty, choppy, flicky, edgy and dare I say it – cool? Fourthly, are you allowed to kiss someone you’ve only just met?
So it turns out, George is quite the genius everyone says he is. He chopped into my hair and cut it up the back and snipped into the sides to prevent any element of ‘mum-cut’ ever appearing. Does it look good with vodka? Well, it is certainly a tonic.
I leave 24, Wells Street, with a giant spring in my stride, I bounce along the pavement, my hair all short and sharp and fabulous; like I have just stepped out of the proverbial salon!