In any other salon, it might be disconcerting to be entertained with stories of how the hairdresser currently cutting your hair has previously left clients bald, scorched or with a mop ‘tightly permed into pubes’. But 25 years have passed since celebrity stylist Adam Reed first cut his teeth as an apprentice. In that time, Reed and business partner Paul Percival have built a boutique hair styling empire, with a Marylebone salon and a prettily-packaged eponymous product line both attracting a ritzy clientele. Reassuringly, Reed has mastered his craft to a point where those who trade on their looks – including celebs such as the notably un-pubey Sophie Dahl and Diane Kruger – trust him with their locks.
The pair’s newly opened premises is a lovely old place. Previously occupied by a banana importer, the unusual Spitfalfields space has been wittily done up with reclaimed wood pannelling and artwork referencing its former fruity life.
It may be as inevitable as an enquiry about your summer holidays, but whenever a new salon opens, its owners invariably announce they want their customers to feel ‘at home’. The classier the salon, the less likely this is to actually happen – expensive furnishings and overly formal staff often leave you afraid to ask for a simple trim, or turn up with dirty hair. Here, the rooms are furnished with mid-twentieth-century curios and well-thumbed tomes purloined from Reed’s own home. When I ask one of London’s best stylists for a slight trim and a bit of light grey coverage, he nods and says: ‘Ah, a maintenance cut. Brilliant!’as if I’ve just challenged him to replicate the elaborate wigery of Marie Antoinette.
The perfect combination of capable and characterful, my cutter is free and easy with the gossip, invites me to help myself to the many bowls of snacks and sweets within arm’s reach, and shows me hair disasters on YouTube via an iPad. The latter is actually present for a higher purpose – and here comes the science bit – the world’s first Colour Station. In a pre-treatment consultation, your colourist adjusts a halo of lights above your head to reflect natural light. Colour boards are placed against your face to work out whether you suit warm or cool colours, then the iPad finely tunes the halo to reflect a series of different lights – dusk, office, sunshine, shade… This way, you can see exactly how your colour looks in any scenario – and avoid the dreaded brassy blonde or blue-ish black that sometimes presents itself in the wrong light. Maybe it’s a gimmick, but the excellent service and sociable ambience certainly aren't.