In the 60s and 70s Hair Stylists, enjoyed the same ‘Rock Star’ status as the celebrities they looked after. Famous stylists such as Daniel Galvin, John Freida, Nicky Clarke, Michael Rasser and Charlie Chan were sought-after by celebrities and royalty. Rock stars, Hollywood models and moguls, mingled with their stylists, flying them all over the world to attend to their image for film shoots, TV shows, live performances and to ‘be there’. What they were wearing was as important as gowns worn by their clients for the Oscars. Michael John stylists played an important role in this time of history.
The salon was founded in 1967 by Michael Rasser and John Isaacs following their time as Hair Stylists at the legendary Leonard Lewis’ salon in Mayfair. This was the era when a ‘hair cut’ could launch a career, set new trends and revolutionise the fashion industry. The ethos and key to MichaelJohn’s success was offering clients a bespoke service, in a luxurious and comfortable environment. Champagne bottles popping was as regular a sound as scissors creating cutting-edge styles for the glitterati. Visits from Liza Minelli, Princess Anne, Mick Jagger and supermodel Twiggy were normal occurrences. The industry was firmly in the limelight breaking all the moulds alongside the elite and creative industries, composers and film makers of the day. Michael was awarded the Royal Victoria Medal in recognition of his contribution to hairdressing and his commitment to training the succeeding generation of hair stylists. His legacy continues with an impressive list of celebrities and royalty visiting the salon; Amal Clooney for her wedding day, Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Vogue editors, broadcasters; all remain frequent visitors. Beauty was part of the exclusive services on offer with the Beauty & Medispa salon, set up by Michael, continuing to be part of the landmark luxury services. This year the salon acquired a new owner, Lynne Warrington.
Lynne, previously in banking, bought the business and Medispa taking it just off Sloane Street in Chelsea. Huge rent and rate increases had been introduced to the salon’s previous locations making it impossible to trade. Lynne has worked in the hair industry for over 30 years, 12 of these at MichaelJohn’s. “We wanted the salon and Medispa to be in close proximity, separate buildings but close to each other so it’s convenient. We really like this location, there is a strong community spirit here. Our landlords (Cadogan Estates) involve their tenants in local activities. The regeneration of Sloane Street and Pavillion Road is fantastic. £40 million pounds is being spent on the area. It is looked after and is constantly on its way up. They are great landlords who like to serve the community.
“MichaelJohn was the in-place to be with the glamorous crowd, celebrities and talent constantly coming in. We still have some of the original staff from that era as well as younger staff trained in the old school traditions. MichaelJohn had huge credibility in the industry and our stylists come through the ranks mixing ‘old school’ together with the latest technology. We also have older clients, along with the young, many still from the earlier years. Charlie Chan has clients going back 50 years who still come here. Sadly, Charlie is retiring now and we will all miss him very much. People still visit us from around the world and when they come to the UK. There is a new trend in hairdressing now and clients have different requirements. Clients want stylists who are well-trained. Social media is a big influencer in this field and our younger staff follow the latest trends and colours. We’re not tied to any one brand and have a very creative team who put their own interpretation on latest trends, but have the foundational training from good hairdressers. It’s all very good quality work. We do a lot of colour, technical work, and human hair extensions. Its very popular, especially with older women. The hair thins on the side, and our specially-trained staff add thickness where clients want it. It’s amazing how many people do have hair extensions. We do tapes, bonded, even rooted ones to look more natural. These days you don’t have to colour your own hair, the colour is done with the extensions, without any damage to your own hair. It can take 45 mins to an hour and a half depending on how many strands we put in. We have hair in stock or we order it to arrive the next day. They last about 3 – 4 months and you just treat it like normal hair, it’s easy to maintain. The girls here are very well trained would not do anything to damage the hair. We are approachable and not pretentious and the team are all good friends working well together. We spend a lot of time with the clients, men and women, young to much older. Every client is valuable. We are not looking at maths when we spend time on them. It is a bespoke, personal service.
Everybody’s different. Neave O’Hara has been a colourist with the salon for 11 years and talked about the challenges she has on a daily basis “The age range varies from very young teenagers to elderly women and we adapt our approach and techniques to suit many styles. Today many people request a new free hand technique called balayage. This is like ‘painting the ends’ of the hair, giving a sun kissed natural look. Hair extensions are used for gaining length or fullness in the hair. We do a foundation blow dry, which is 25 bonds adding natural volume to your own hair, emphasising what you have already. It’s not a false look and ideal for those who want a bit more hair. You can achieve really dramatic changes. If you’ve got really short hair, you can go for really long hair. Really thin hair to really thick. You can do anything now. The extensions and their versatility are improving all the time. The extra benefit is that you do not have to colour or bleach your own hair. It is all-natural human hair which comes from India, from a temple where the hair is donated for religious purposes; it’s almost like a cleansing ritual. Dimitra, has been with Michael John for 10 years. “I did all my training here, I love the company. I’ve been doing hair extensions for the last 6 years and it’s really become something that I’ve specialised in. Today hair extensions are a lot smaller, the bonds are a lot more versatile which means we can work on a lot of different hair types. It allows us to ‘fill in’ gaps. After people have given birth they may lose a lot of their hair and elderly people want their hair styles to last longer. It really gives your hair a fresher, younger, fuller look and you can just treat your hair as you normally would. Bespoke appointments can take up to an hour and a half. Each hair order is custom made for each client whether you are adding hair extensions for length, volume, or colour. It lasts 4 to 5 months depending on how quickly your hair grows. It also means you do not have to colour your hair all the time. It’s really bridged the generation gap and is fairly economical, too. It lasts longer and the need for salon visits and hair colouring is less frequent. Everyone looks and feels amazing when they leave here. Our main priority is keeping the condition of the hair healthy. www.michaeljohn.co.uk