Sunday, 21 February 2010

Being 'Bettied'..vintage hair with flair.

I have never, ever, hankered after natural, healthy, unstructured hair. I grew up in the age of the Partridge Family, tabards, space-hoppers and David Cassidy. Therefore I actively dislike the 'Virgin Suicide' style. I am bored by the concept of blande, beige, dun, muddy coloured hair flopping down one's shoulders. It is the styling of my grandmother's generation that appeals, the curls, the up-do's, the rolls and flicks. The first thing I did upon becoming 13, and in my eyes a 'teenager', was to buy a bottle of jet black L'Oreal Recital and eliminate the dull brown locks I was cursed with. My father said I resembled a witch; I was delighted.

In a world of Kate Moss wannabees, Cheryl Cole add-ons and vast swathes of blonde highlights it is very difficult to find a hairdresser that gets, what you want them to get. For a couple of years now my locks have been tended by Miss Betty whose salon is in Kingly Court. I found her by word of mouth. I was complaining that I had to order hairdressers to cut my fringe, and that when they did, they would soften it, to make me look 'younger' grrrr. So determined was I that I marched into Betty's with hair half way down my back and demanded a chin length bob. Which I got, excellently cut and with no prevarication. I went back last Saturday to get my (now fiery red) locks touched up and my hair styled. I have bravely posted the before and after pictures below:



The Salon itself is a pleasure, no sterile reaches of white ceramics and mirrors, so you don't feel like you are being coiffed in an abbatoire. Rather Miss Betty's parlour is highly feminine, all red velvet and black chandeliers. The pictures on the walls of glamorous screen legends and rockabilly hussies are better than rows of asinine pictures of gormless looking models. What stands out the most is that you do not feel isolated from other users of the salon, on Saturdays it is busy but you feel that you can chat with others, or not, as you wish. It also makes a difference that whilst you wait you actually get to listen to good music. I repeat GOOD music, it's a bug bear of mine, the classic modern hairdresser's obsession with Beyonce, Jamiroquai, Girls Aloud and Robbie Williams arrrrggghh! I end up wanting to grab the clippers from the hairdresser and run out with a shaved head just to get away from the noise.

Interior of Miss Betty's

Betty's main interest lies in styling rockabilly/fifties hair and previously having had a salon in Toulouse she is well known in that subculture. I also like the fact, and I don't think this is because English is her second language, that she is clear and straightforward and will tell you when she thinks something will or won't suit you. No flim-flam. I'm not, perhaps, her classic customer but she knows how vintage glamour works. You come out of the salon with seriously glamorous grown up hair. After leaving her salon I went off to meet Torquil Arbuthnot and Katie Chutzpah in Mayfair. In New Bond Street I heard someone say as I passed 'she's probably here for London Fashion Week'..entirely down to Betty's styling.

Another view of the interior of the beauty parlour.

An element of the salon that I enjoy is the fact that Betty shares it with her partner, retro/rocker barber Mr Ducktail. In fact his barbershop 'Something Hells' takes up the front part of the establishment. His expertise attracts a steady stream of gentlemen (and the occasional lady) who wants the perfect quiff or DA. This means there are usually a few nice looking young men hanging around, never a bad thing. In fact there was a very special young man in the salon on Saturday, Betty's 10 week old bulldog puppy Elvis; the cutest thing ever.

Interior of Something Hells, Mr Ducktail's barber shop.

One of Betty's up do's (taken at the Chap Olympics), it stayed up for days...

Now that's what I call a fringe!

Retro-hair is not for everyone, you do get looked at (surely the point?) and when not around experts like Betty you end up battling with rollers, stuck with more pins that a zombie doll and drenched in Elnett. However stylists like Betty make life a lot easier, and you know where to go for that knock-out hairstyle when you need it. I have sent several friends to her and they have always looked fantastic. So if you are in London and want killer hair you know where to go. No excuses!

Miss Betty's Beauty Parlour.

Tel: 0207 287 0241

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