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January 22nd 2014 / 0 comment
Judy Johnson tries to fit in to one of the coolest salons in London...
When I think of a hair salon, I think of bright lights, constant noise of hairdryers blowing, hair sweeping and people chattering all alongside a background of either a radio or CD that no one's quite listening to amid the hubbub of activity. I dread it. Having to stare at oneself in the mirror as someone does or does not make you look better (you just can't tell until that last wisp of hair is dry, can you?) is my idea of hell; add to that a sensitive scalp and thin hair that hates to be pulled and tugged every which way and you have a hairdresser-phobic beauty writer.
Gradually as I have become charged with the duty of Getting the Gloss, I have slowly tried to trust people with the job of sorting out my hair and so, in the name of research, I went along to Taylor Taylor's new salon in Notting Hill. Hailed as one of the best hairdressers not just in London but worldwide, I was reassured that the experience would be more than enjoyable - a complimentary cocktail bar awaited as did the promise of fashion-forward stylists.
I was right to feel at ease. Housed on a corner of Portobello Road, the new salon shuns bright clinical lights and and the usual bustle of a high street salon with an oasis of calm, beautifully decorated in a boutique style complete with glistening chandeliers and gold vintage mirrors. The lights are slightly soft, creating a warm glow that makes the atmosphere that much more relaxing. A brass topped bar sets the scene in the front while the back takes shape in the form of a lounge area with the latest magazines and ample seating, presumably to peruse while waiting for colours to work their magic.
After a quick chat with my stylist Helena (fresh from New York and from helping at McQueen's shows, looking far too cool in a black hat) I was led downstairs to the plush gold-tiled 'washroom' to have my hair shampooed and conditioned vigorously (there goes the sensitive scalp, ouch) before returning for the chop. I glanced through their impressive cocktail menu but stuck to a school night favourite, peppermint tea, which promptly arrived in a beautiful china pot. Such service. So Portobello.
With the cut, Helena very much played it by ear - starting with a short back she then kept my hair very slightly longer at the front before throwing in some layers and a side-swept fringe, tweaking and toying until she was satisfied. She then moussed and dried my fine locks into some kind of miraculous volume ("Never condition your roots," she informed me sternly, "only the ends.") and then casually curled thick chunks of hair to add more height and depth before teaching me how to backcomb.
While all this was happening I was blissfully unaware of the rest of the salon - perhaps it was a quiet day or perhaps I was simply at ease, but there was none of that constant background noise that usually keeps me on high alert when in the chair. Everything was calm, from the easy-listening music choice to Helena herself; quite the revelation for my salon-phobic self. I left with an almost-shoulder length shaped bob, healthier hair and the sense that Taylor Taylor London is almost too cool. Next time, I definitely have to pick a cocktail if I’m going to fit in.
309 Portobello Road, W10 5TD
020 8960 8569
September 28th 2020