Beauty, Lifestyle, Review

The mane man

My hair transformation at George Northwood

“Be there, or have bad hair”

Artwork at George Northwood ('Pony Pin Ups' by Julian Wolkenstein @ The Horsebox Gallery )

Artwork at George Northwood: ‘Pony Pin Ups’ by Julian Wolkenstein @ The Horsebox Gallery

The Northwood name is one synonomous with the poster girls of today; his loyal client list reading like an A-list party invitation. George has been the go-to guy for many years for both Rosie Huntington-Whiteley & Alexa Chung. Celebrity endorsements aside, when the in-the-know Editors (see: Lorraine Candy, ELLE & Emma Elwick-Bates, VOGUE) are also making a beeline for a salon, you know it’s the place to go. So when Laura Fantacci of Wearing It Today (formerly of Red) posted an exclusive offer for 20% off* at the newly opened Wells Street premises, I couldn’t resist.

Having a long term relationship with a salon/hairdresser/colourist has proved more difficult than finding a husband in my case. Over the years there has been a great deal of hairstyle related emotion – some hurt (yes, even tears) & regret but mostly a whole lot of ‘meh’. I’m not someone who visits a hair salon on a regular basis, nor am I fond of follicle change. This is because I’ve simply not felt entirely comfortable & the techniques I’ve experienced have been the same for the last 10 years+ regardless of where I have visited or the price I have paid.

My issues:

  • My locks had lost their lustre
  • Being blonde, there’s a fine line between Barbie/brassy/90s girl band stripes
  • My colour had become one homogenous hue with constant (read: expensive) root maintenance
  • I’m just not cool enough to go full-on platinum/bleached

My desires:

  • Beachy (not bleachy) blonde tones
  • Natural
  • Understated
  • Low-maintenance

I initially contacted the salon to discuss my concerns, with Rabia in Reservations suggesting I pop along for a free consultation to meet with the stylists in person before committing to my appointment & to find out which treatments to book. Reputation, of course, comes with a price tag to genuinely reflect the level of service you are getting here. Also, I was reassured that the unique processes used require less long-term upkeep & fewer appointments, so it was a no-brainer. You wear your hair every day & I had been feeling dull for far too long.

The Colour:

Sally Northwood

My colourist Sally Northwood

My childhood buttery blonde had faded to a tawny biscuit tone some time ago & was hidden underneath the blanket of foiled highlights. It began to look flat & lifeless – products only doing so much. As soon as I met with Colourist, Sally Northwood my fears floated away. First impressions: this gal has the type of hair that I’ve been searching for! ‘You don’t have bad hair’  she comforted & set about describing how she would use a unique freehand Balayage technique to create bespoke blends for me whilst consulting with my Stylist, Roi on cut. For the first time ever I was excited to see my results instead of nervously forcing a gritted smile.

On the day itself I was amazed by Sally’s dexterity. With over 16 years experience, combined with her natural flair & warm disposition I felt totally at ease. Celebrating her birthday that day, she so clearly loved her job & craft. With conversation peppered with funny anecdotes & product tips (the type of person you’d happily chat to down the pub) combined with an artistry & professionalism I had never experienced before. My treatment was the ‘Supermodel Strands‘ method – a far more modern alternative to highlights. The sun-kissed results speak for themselves. I was also impressed with the speed of the process – no more hours on end in foils (I once spent 7 hours in a salon!)

The Cut:

Roi Stone

My Senior Stylist Roi

Even in my consultation before lifting a scissor, Roi managed to make my hair look better by merely playing around with my style & parting. I appreciated I needed to lose quite a bit of my length & trusted him completely to remove the odd layering & feathering that had formed into a tapered point at the back. Again, I was astonished by how deftly Roi transformed my hair – I wasn’t sure what was scissor & what was hand. This wasn’t merely a haircut – it was hair sculpture (if you’re thinking of Edward Scissorhands now, you’re on the right track). Roi finished my style using a series of Redken products & scattered loose barrel tonged waves throughout. I practically skipped out of the door.

The Salon:

The attention to detail extends to the interior decor & personal touches throughout the entire space. Light & bright yet as cozy as a home, albeit a very stylish one (I made notes for my own interiors). Everything has been considered in terms of both comfort & aesthetics – much like the hair styling itself. Walls of products including Redken, Pureology, Kat & George accessories sit alongside mid-century pieces, humorous art & ephemera. Think ‘Atelier Abigail Ahern’ meets ‘The Ace Hotel’ via your trendy mate’s pad. Even the bathrooms were stocked with my favourite Aesop products.

It’s a real bonafide family business. Not only does George work together with his sister Sally, his Mum is also a salon regular & makes yummy homemade treats for the lucky staff & customers (I was covered in cookie & shortbread crumbs by the time I left). The siblings took early inspiration from their beloved Nan who was a Hairdresser & you can feel that love & care. The entire staff are a happy, helpful gang adding to the family feel; you may also get to meet Freddie. George has also collaborated with his best friend Kat to create a range of hair accessories Kat&George available to purchase. With in house makeup artistry by Isobel Kennedy, manicures by Magda on hand & their friends at Roots & Bulbs providing personal blends of their famous cold pressed juices, you won’t want to leave.

The Results:

IMG_3605

BEFORE: My Barbie blonde fell flat & took me ages to style & maintain

IMG_4126

AFTER: My transformed tresses in beachy hues & waves

IMG_4163

Showing off my bouncy bonce on the er, bus

The Verdict:

I now feel like I have the hair to match my personal style & my lifestyle. It’s been just over a week since my appointment & I have already managed to create a variety of styles. I can just wash & go, letting it dry naturally or add some texture with a salt spray or dry shampoo – so quick & easy. It’s paid for itself in compliments (strangers have stopped in the street to enquire) & put a bounce in my step as well as my roots.

“Best haircut ever”– my Mr (now that’s really saying something)

“I want to go” – my Mum

“I want to go” – my mates

If you want to go too, get in touch with the GN Team:

reservations@georgenorthwood.com

0207 7580 8195

*For 20% off your first appointment please visit WIT to get the special offer code 😉

P.S. In a twist of fate, Sally & George were responsible for the hair styling for the Rosie Huntington-Whiteley cover of ELLE October 2013 that I had the honour of contributing to, so it felt extra special. Read about the issue here.

PHOTO CREDITS: The Horsebox Gallery, George Northwood  & all other images by Sophie Osborne 2014.

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