“When a client walks in the salon, I form an instant idea of how I think they should look. But I can’t go ahead until I’ve spoken to them and factored in their personality and lifestyle – that’s the important bit, because I wouldn’t want to give someone a style they couldn’t make look good on a day-to-day basis.”
When Jamie Stevens told me this in his eponymous salon, the first sentence struck fear into my very core. Having encountered many hairdressers who have executed their wild ideas upon my head of hair with wanton disregard for my partialities, the boldness of Jamie’s first statement reverberated ominously.
As I ruminated upon what might happen next to my innocent locks, Jamie started with his line of questioning. He asked me how much time I wanted to devote to styling (none), how often I was willing to have it cut (not often), and whether I had any issues with the way it naturally fell (I had plenty). He touched my hair and looked pensive. I, in turn, played my part admirably: I smiled; I acquiesced to the suggestion of a long bob, and the fear in my gut quietly hardened into a knot as Jamie cut chunks of my hair off to the rough length he intended for it in preparation for my colour session.
This part of the procedure was more comfortable territory for me. Colourists generally seem a less treacherous breed, and Jamie’s sister Tasha, and her perfectly coiffed brunette hair, filled me with ease. She regaled me with tales of colouring the X Factor contestants’ hair (Jamie Stevens was appointed the official hair stylist for the programme back in 2011 as well as being resident hairdresser on This Morning, Gok’s Fashion Fix and How To Look Good Naked), and her admission that she was not keen to over colour the hair of younger contestants’ hair was music to my ears – clearly I was in the safe hands of a sensible and sensitive creature.
Post-colour, whilst having my hair washed in a reclining massage chair, I realised I was really rather enjoying my afternoon and that it was probably in no small part due to the atmosphere – the salon was markedly different from my previous experiences with celebrated hairdressers. Absent were the it girl clientele and army of intimidating stylists. Instead, the salon lies on a quieter street in west London and attracts a fair few locals, whilst those who work alongside Jamie are entirely unpretentious.
My suspicions that this was not coincidental were confirmed by Jamie: “I didn’t want my salon to be a place where people felt uncomfortable and a lot of work has gone into making this a space people want to spend time in. My stylists are a huge part of making this enterprise work – I hate the idea of being surrounded by robots who cut hair exactly as I do. We all learn from each other and work together to make the whole experience a good one.”
By the time I was sat in front of Jamie I was aflutter with anticipation. I was not to be disappointed. As Jamie cut, his focus was channelled entirely on the job at hand. His earlier questions had obviously informed his decisions and I didn’t need to remind him once of my hairs strange predilections. He cut the ends of my hair slightly unevenly in preparation for my untameable wave, thinned the ends to avoid it being weighed down and waited for most of it to dry before finishing, all of which made an enormous difference to the end result.
He also dispensed wisdom as he worked, enlightening me as to how to tame my cowlick and apply serum so ensure the finish I achieved at home would be as good as in any salon. His prowess was impressive and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the end result.
Two months later and the cut and colour still look good. I left the salon with the holy grail – perfectly dishevelled hair. On first washing I lamented what I thought was to be the end of a perfect style. I was delightfully wrong and easily replicated it with Jamie’s instructions. My hair has since taken me no longer than five minutes to go from soaking wet to ready to go. But good hair is not the only legacy Jamie has left me with – when I eventually do need a trim, I will approach the salon with a knot-free stomach.
My hair after cut and colour at Jamie’s salon