The world’s most famous colourist, Jo Hansford MBE, is celebrating 20 years of running her exclusive London salon this year.
Jo Hansford salon is a magnet for just about every A lister – from royalty, film stars and celebrities to media moguls and businesswomen. It has seen Hollywood’s finest screen stars pass through its doors as well as First Ladies of politics and many of the world’s leading entertainers and supermodels.
Angelina Jolie, Elizabeth Hurley, HRH Duchess of Cornwall, Georgia Jagger, Sienna Miller and Sophie Dahl are all clients of the woman hailed by American Vogue as “the best tinter on the planet”.
Hansford’s Mayfair hair salon opened its doors on Mount Street in 1993 with just eight staff in the middle of the recession. Here Jo shares her interesting anecdotes about some of the famous people who have visited her salon during the last 20 years.
- First lady Carla Bruni –I was flown to Paris first class to do Carla’s hair for a fashion shoot when she was at the height of her career as a supermodel. I remember we had to wait for her to get out of bed – not because she was being a diva – more that she was absolutely knackered after doing show after show at Paris Fashion Week. She was charming if not a bit tired. The models have to work so hard and I do feel sorry for a lot of them as fashion weeks are tough on them. We then flew down to Nice to do the shoot for a glossy magazine – she was uber professional and did the job without any moaning even though she was totally shattered. A really charming lady.
- Angelina Jolie – We were asked to do her hair for her role as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider. She had just flown in from LA and had to come straight into the salon and was exhausted. Jet lagged, she pretty much fell asleep in the chair. She had a ‘herbal’ black on her hair and needed to be 3 shades lighter to a dark brown. This was an incredibly hard job as herbal tint doesn’t remove very easily. It took all day to get the base right and we had to send her away to get some rest as she was so tired. She returned the next day and we finished the job. She was very unpretentious and very sweet– a true A lister with charm.
- Elizabeth Hurley – Elizabeth first came in about 14 years ago. I worked on her hair for a year before I felt we had achieved the perfect colour for her and she has been loyal ever since. At one point she had a penchant for being blonde which I knew wouldn’t be right for her especially on shoots. However, I did what she asked and she came back next time saying she needed to be darker again! She realised that it doesn’t work as well in the photos and she much more radiant as a brunette. She has a radiance about her and is a true beauty. We chat about our love of dogs, our children and business. She’s a smart businesswomen – very astute. When Damian was very small, he used to come into the salon and all the staff adored him. He is a gorgeous little boy and she is a totally doting mother.
- The Duchess of Cornwall has been coming to me for – I dread to think how long – 25, 30 years. We get on incredibly well, because our children are the same age, and we both have grandchildren. She has a fantastic sense of humour, she really does. You’re not best friends, but you build a rapport and you know their hair. I was delighted to get an invite to her wedding but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it. I do have a piece of the wedding cake in a special tin which sits in my office and I keep all the lovely cards she sends me. I am very proud to do her colour.
- Georgia Jagger – Myself and my team worked with her to get the right shade of blonde. Her hair is so battered by seeing different colourists and stylists and from her modelling that she wanted to have beautiful soft looking highlights. That’s what we gave her. She’s a great girl, quite reserved which is surprising given her extrovert rock star dad!
- Yasmin le Bon – Yasmin was a client for years and at one point we often looked after the whole family, including her daughter Amber. We also looked after Simon after Yasmin’s instructions to give him more natural looking blonde highlights! Yasmin is naturally incredibly beautiful, a homely girl and a really doting mother. It’s great to see Yasmin looking so amazing in the Monsoon campaign with Amber.
- Sophie Dahl – Sophie Dahl was a dream client when she popped in for a treatment. After she sent me a lovely hand-written card saying ‘thank you for my grown up highlights!’
- Josephine de la Baume – we always look after her hair when she is in London and coloured it for her wedding to Mark Ronson. She is very cool.
- Liberty Ross – I was asked by Sam McKnight to colour her hair for Vogue Magazine (he was doing the styling). It was a fairly avant garde shoot and different to what I would normally do as she needed to have multi coloured rainbow highlights running through it. I absolutely loved the experience and she was such a professional and it was a fabulous team. The results were stunning and she was on the front cover. She’s a great example of a lovely girl who has come from a seriously nice family. I was really saddened to read about her split up from her husband.
- Linda Gray– Linda came in while she was on stage in The Graduate in the West Wend WHAT DID SHE HAVE DONE. This was post her Dallas days. She is 100% old Hollywood through and through. A great character, a classic beauty who really looks after herself. She has the most fabulous bone structure and is a great looking woman. She was a pleasure to have in the salon and was truly gracious and just a lovely lady.
- Rachel Hunter – the model started coming into the salon after she splitting up from Rod Stewart as she temporarily moved back from LA where her hair had been over processed. I did colour correction work to change her harsh orange highlights to more natural honey and cream tones. She was very unassuming, polite and totally unpretentious. She was obviously going through a very hard time but never let anything show and always looked impeccable.
- Barbara Taylor Bradford – as well as real royalty we also look after the queen of women’s fiction, Barbara Taylor Bradford. When she’s in the UK and staying in The Dorchester, she always comes in to get her colour and styling done. She won’t go anywhere else for colour. Even though she lives in New York now, she still has retained her northern charm and is a lovely, decent lady. She impresses all the staff with her knowledge on current affairs and is always reading. Her charming husband Bob comes in too. They’re a lovely couple.
- Holly Hunter – After the success of The Piano, Holly spent some time in London. She became a regular whilst on stage in ‘By the Bog of Cats’ in London. She used to give everyone massive kisses and hugs when she left, even the juniors! She was the opposite of a luvvie. So grounded and normal. It’s great to see actresses like this who still have their feet firmly on the ground.
- Raquel Welch – she was one of my first clients. A real siren – totally stunning. She came into the salon while she was in London in a play and became a real regular. Then one of our stylists would go and look after her wherever she was doing media interviews and TV. I remember her maid dutifully coming into the salon to bring her breakfast or lunch – which was a carefully designed meal given she always watched what she ate. It pays off as still today she has an amazing figure.
- Hugh Jackman – Hugh made all the ladies swoon when he came in, he was very gorgeous and had to have his hair permed by one of our stylists whilst he was appearing in Oklahoma. It was a real joy having him in the salon – especially for the our staff and our customers!
- Dido – We looked after Dido when she first came to the UK to launch her singing career. We created beautiful natural looking highlights as her hair had been messed up in LA. She was just lovely. A really sweet girl who is naturally very pretty.
- Natalie Imbruglia – a regular for quite a while and we gave her the ombre look about two years ago when she wanted something different. She is very pretty and charming.
- Lorraine Kelly –is great fun and always so kind and generous when she comes in. It’s very obvious why she is loved by the public as she is completely down to earth and very relatable! She told me the other day that coming into our salon for a cut and colour is probably the most relaxing couple of hours she ever has. I’m glad she likes the experience!
- Erin O’Connor – She came to us after she had been to several different colourists and needed her hair evened out. She loves being dark so it was just making sure it was a true flat black with no undertones. Once this was achieved we maintained it for several years until she relocated to New York last year. We actually gave her the formula so her hairdresser out there could maintain it for her! She recently gave us a lovely quote for our website: “Jo Hansford’s just exceptional at what she does and her beautiful salon reflects that.”
- Nigella Lawson – Nigella was a client for years and years and she’d often bring her children in for haircuts too. She is such a lovely lady, so beautiful in flesh and has the most amazing skin! She would often come into us on a Saturday and then pop next door to Scotts to meet Charles for lunch. They would always sit outside in the summer there and enjoy the sunshine and people watching on Mount Street. She is naturally very funny and down to earth and charming!
- (well, to be correct, 20 ½!) Naomi Campbell: We were asked if we could look after Naomi Campbell’s hair a few years ago when she was huge but didn’t have much detail about what was required. We all got very excited especially when a beautiful Rolls Royce pulled up with blacked out windows. The chauffeur walked round the car and opened the door and then picked up a box off the back seat and brought it in to the salon! They only wanted her fringe piece to be coloured to match the rest of a hairpiece she had!