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The body beautiful: hair veterans
(Filed: 23/11/2005)

Lesley Thomas reviews some of the most trusted and longest serving hair stylists

Double-barrelled careers are all the rage these days - I know a lawyer-yoga teacher, a designer-fitness trainer and more than one journalist-DJ.

During a conversation with the builder who was fixing our fence recently, I discovered the best yet. I steered the conversation towards hair - I can find a link to hair from any subject you throw at me, from the weather (frizz-fighting in humid conditions) to politics (Cherie's chignon, or Pauline Prescott and the use of government vehicles as style-protection).

Catherine Zeta Jones
Michaeljohn styles the hair of stars such as Catherine Zeta Jones

The builder seemed to know an awful lot about conditioning techniques and highlights - because, guess what?

Our builder is also a hairdresser. I've struck handyman gold!

Imagine being his wife. Shelves fixed and good hair days for the rest of your life! Then again, chefs never have dinner parties, and most builders' houses are permanent works in progress. I do hope Mrs Builder-Hairdresser doesn't have to live with dry ends and wonky kitchen cupboards.

The upshot of all this was that my husband came home that evening to find me getting a blow-dry from the hairdresser-builder in the dining room. He looked a little weirded out - my husband, I mean. I explained, excitedly, that the builder used to work for Michaeljohn.

"Michaelwhat?" he said with his eyes. Honestly, pearls before swine.

There are some names in the beauty industry that you instantly trust. Michaeljohn is one of them. The brainchild of Michael Rasser, 30 years ago, the salon is now home to some of the most in-demand stylists in the business, looking after the barnets of, among others, Catherine Zeta Jones and Nicole Kidman. Rasser's team includes Derek Thompson, Clive Lever and Jason Stanton, all of whom have over 20 years' experience tending to some of the world's pickiest women (020 7629 6969).

These are not the most fashionable names in the business, but their longevity, in an industry that sees new trends twice a week, makes them better than cool.

Hari Salem is another hair veteran. He did Jean Shrimpton's and Twiggy's hair in the Sixties, Bianca Jagger's in the Seventies and his salon in Brompton Cross is now a magnet for society ladies and It Girls. They leave Hari's with hair that looks glossy and expensive (020 7581 1211).

Daniel Hersheson, whose Mayfair salon is a mecca for models, actress and city women, has been a big name in hair since the Seventies. Joely Richardson and Saffron Aldridge trust his discreetly glamorous styling and his focus on excellent condition (020 7434 1747).

Then there's Philip Kingsley, the follicular magician who's been in the business for more than 35 years, showing everyone from Audrey Hepburn to Kate Winslet how to get the best from their hair. At his clinic in London, he also treats conditions such as premature hair loss, and his range of products can have miraculous effects on difficult locks (020 7629 4004). There really ought to be a Queen's honour for services to hair.

My builder-hairdresser (no, I am not giving out his number) has been in hair since the Eighties. Convenient though his service is, however, I'm hesitating about asking him for a cut or colour next time. What happens if he leaves my hair half-done and nips off to finish some lowlights on the other side of town?

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