Celebrity Hair Cutting Shears

Century Classic - hair cutting shears

My current hair cutting shears: Century Classic, Tondeo, made in Solingen, Germany 6″ (68mm blade) (1998-ish)

After over forty years of hairdressing my hair cutting shears have become a part of my hand. They’re as much a prosthetic, two razor-sharp fingers, as they are a hand tool. I love that I even get some sensation of touch; when I cut hair I can feel them cutting and the hair’s texture.

As was the tradition when I was a Junior (1973), my first pair of shears were given to me by my stylist, Robert Lobetta; they were engraved with a salon’s name: Andre Bernard. The shears were five and a half inches, blunt and pitted with the corrosion that is so typical of badly maintained scissors. I either gave them back to Robert or chucked them away, however, I have a feeling that he may have actually asked for them back.

Robert gave me another pair that were equally as bad, this time engraved with the name Artisan. So I dumped them and took myself off to Ogee’s on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Earlham Street to buy a brand new pair of hair cutting shears.

Such was my ego I didn’t want to look like a n00bie junior buying his first pair of hair cutting shears. I confidently strode up to the counter and pointed at a pair almost exactly the same as the Artisan shears. “Can I have a gander at those,” I said, and she handed them over. I cut the hairs off of the back of my hand like I would a client’s neck fluff, and showing off, I span them on my finger like a cowboy would his .45 Colt pistol, then I slapped them down on the counter saying, “I’ll take ’em.” What a douchebag I was. They turned out to be a pretty average shyte pair.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thrown a knife, but I spent the entire summer holidays when I was thirteen teaching myself how to throw my Scout sheath knife. Basically, what you do is: hold the blade of the knife between fingers and thumb with the spine of the knife towards the palm of your hand, and the handle pointing away from you and towards the target. Keep fingers and palm away from the point and the sharpened edge. Cock your wrist sideways towards your forearm, and throw the knife almost like a dart. The knife will rotate, cartwheel like, and hopefully the knife point will stick in!

The point of the matter being rotation. Spin any hand tool and you’ll soon discover its balance and sometimes its purpose of use. A balanced pair of shears will feel good in the hand.

Concorde - hair cutting shears

Concorde, FLAJ (inox stainless steel) 5.5″ (60mm blade) (1976)

Never buy a pair of shears because of what they look like. My grandfather used to say, “A bad workman always blames his tools.” Well I surely cussed those little fuckers.

I hold no sentimentality or affection for my shears, I usually give them away when I’ve finished with them. These were given to a friend who uses them to trim her fringe very occasionally – I was glad to see the back of them.

ECA - hair cutting shears

ECA, made in Solingen, Germany (rostfrei stainless steel) 5.5″ (50mm blade) (1980)

One of my favourite pairs of shears even though they were the only pair to really bite me – they cut a nice big V on the base of my index finger. Most hairdressers cut themselves with a new pair of shears at least once. I saw Ricci Burns slice through his knuckle to the bone, he got a trip to hospital and six stitches for his troubles – well, we thought it was funny at the time!

Jaguar - hair cutting shears

Jaguar satin, Easy Rand Rocket, made in Solingen, Germany (ice tempered stainless steel) 5″ (40mm blade) (1990-ish)

These were the only shears that I’ve had professionally sharpened – they fucked them up for me by grinding too much off of the blade. I usually sharpen my shears myself on my great-grandfather’s fine whetstone – it’s getting a little worn after about a hundred years.

A regular rub on the whetstone, a wipe with a thick chamois and a few drops of clear machine oil and my old hair cutting shears are back up like new again.

My most magical and memorable scissor moment wasn’t a celebrity encounter, and they weren’t even my scissors, it was when I cut my son’s cord with the midwife’s umbilical scissors – what sensational and emotional feeling.

2 Reasons Why I Will Vote Leave

adolf hitler

Vote Leave #VoteLeave – it’s got nothing to do with WW1, WW2 or Adolf Hitler

Vote Leave on June 23

1. The main reason why I will Vote Leave on June 23 in the EU referendum is Greece! Greece is a great example of EU bollocks from the moment they applied to join. And the way that Germany has been allowed to get away with treating Greece so badly is almost criminal. Ordinary people like myself, can never fully understand the financial machinations of the EU because of the total lack of transparency. And with that in mind: The end result for Greece being: German and French banks benefiting from the EU bailouts that were intended to support the people of Greece! It seems to me that the EU commissioners and bankers are acting like the Borgias! Is this an example of EU social justice (I bet Anthony Wedgwood Benn is turning in his grave) – let’s look after the banks and bankers so the Euro doesn’t disappear up its own arse? Of course, the EU orders Britain to pay its share of the Greek bailout!

David Cameron: “I have sympathy for Greece, but it’s not for the UK to bail it out as we are not a member of the Euro Area.”

Angela Merkel: “For you Dave ze war is over; pay up und shut up.”

David Cameron: “Immediately mein Chancellor.” Clicks’ heels, nods’ head, puts’ left index finger between top lip and nose, et cetera et cetera.

1. My equal top reason I’ll Vote Leave is Project Fear and the establishment and media conspiracy to scare the daft British people shitless. (Which seems to be working!) Why are we SO under the cosh? Is standing up for an independent Britain, that’s free to trade with the so called global village – that every hippy talked about in the early 70s –  politically incorrect and tantamount to hanging an English flag out of ones window?

Then there are the mountain of lies about trade, the economy, house prices, jobs, security, the NHS, immigration, etc., the list is long – and it’s all creative-guesswork.

Seems to me that it’s not Great Britain, it’s Feeble Britain, “Ooh Betty, they said I might possibly lose £2,200 by 2020.”

1. My third equal top reason why I’ll be Voting to Leave is: I believe the EU undermines our wonderful and much envied British Democracy. Faceless, almost nameless, unelected EU commissioners make laws in secret that effect and treat all EU member states exactly the same. The ‘little man’, the ordinary person, wherever we are within the European Union doesn’t really get much of say at all, apart from voting for our MEP – who mainly don’t give a shit because they’ve got their snouts in the EU trough.

And can you imagine countries like Spain, for example, giving Catalonia an independence referendum like Scotland had on 18 September 2014? That is great British Democracy at work.

BTW, you have read Animal Farm (by George Orwell, pub. 1945) haven’t you?

2. I will Vote Leave to support the regeneration of British farming and fisheries. The Common Agricultural Policy is a typical EU subsidies con weighted in favour of French farmers – there I said it!

François Hollande: “UK farmers can go fuck themselves, apples Français are crunchier.”

(BUT NOT BETTER.)

I don’t expect you’re old enough to remember Le Crunch and the beginning of the decline of the UK apple industry. (Which I feel is symbolic of UK farming in general.) As soon as the common market opened up in the mid 1970s the out-for-a-profit supermarkets poured French Golden Delicious down our bloody throats. And because we’re guided by our wallets and not our brains, we allowed our apple and tree-fruit farming industry slip into decrepitude.

And if you’re thinking about cider apples and craft cider making, get real, it’s an industry run by the ‘big boys’ like the Dutch company Heineken, and not some Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall-esque, old Etonian from Gloucestershire.

The UK fishing industry went exactly the same way. I suppose it all started with the ‘Cod Wars’ in the late 1950s early 1960s (concerning the waters surrounding Iceland), no history lesson here, but it went on until we joined the common market in the mid 1970s (it ended in 1976).

Enter stage right the Common Fisheries Policy. When Iceland achieved its overall goal of protecting its waters, the fisheries policy of the EU meted out quotas and opened up the UK waters to the rest of Europe. The UK fishing industry was almost totally fucked! Obviously the CFP has been heavily criticised by UK fishermen, most of whom I expect to Vote Leave.

I could go on and on, yeah, I know I’m rambling, however they are the main reasons I will vote leave: Greece, sovereignty, democracy and my beloved cod & chips washed down with a bottle of Gwynt Y Ddraig’s Black Dragon cider.

1970s Shampoo Nightmares

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London - Willie Christie's Studio

Model: Anik, Photographer: Chris Roberts 1981, Hair: Ian Robson. London – Willie Christie’s Studio

This blog post, 1970s Shampoo Nightmares, has been requested by my friends on #HairHour – 10 Feb 2016. They thought it “would make a very interesting read!” I’m not too sure about that, you’d better judge for yourself!

Without meaning this to be a biography of my early years as a hairdresser, or a fucking history lesson: I’ve got to say this starts in the period between 1970 and 1980, maybe it was when Jimi Hendrix died in September 1970, or when Andre Mizelas (of Andre Bernard) got shot in November 1970, or maybe when Vidal Sassoon created his line of hair-care products in the early 1970s? The thing is, there was an imperceptible wind of change gently blowing – just like there is today, and it’s difficult for me to put a date to it, let’s say the early 1970s.

It was a time when most, if not all, London salons had their own line of self branded hair-care products for sale – I’m talking mainly shampoos and conditioners. They were formulated by so called, cosmetic chemists in small laboratories come kitchen sink factories. The name David Gold rings a bell, I don’t know why – the smell of coconut comes to mind when I think of the name! Salons bought their shampoos and conditioners by the gallon (4.5 litres) from the labs who personalised it (branded it) with ridiculous flavours and the salon’s name. These shampoos and conditioners were absolute crap – or were they? If you washed somewhere between fifteen and fifty heads of hair a day, six days a week, for three months solid, believe me, it really was absolute crap!

I say ridiculous flavours: lemon for greasy hair was typical and obvious, pineapple and orange were slightly less obvious and sickly. pine for normal hair, didn’t smell toilety, but of the woods. almond and coconut for dry and damaged hair. And the colours of course were pretty vivid: yellow, orange, green, pink and spunk white! As a creative junior I liked to mix them and create ‘cocktails’ – my favourite being a pina colada: 3 measures of pineapple, a dash of pine and lemon, 1 measure of coconut – the end result being clean hair, a happy mixologist and an oblivious client!

A junior’s morning job would be to: decant the shampoos and conditioners into the various ‘clean’ 2 litre glass carafes with cork stoppers, that sat behind the backwash like grand apothecary jars.

After a flutter with Lamaur (my favourite: apple pectin shampoo) and Wella, Ricci Burns (where I worked) ditched the laboratory and went down the innovative product road and embraced Redken products (first UK salon to do so); on the other hand, Vidal Sassoon was heavily into self branded products and I think they were the first to go into major production (with Helen of Troy Corporation), selling in the USA and Europe in 1980. This was the beginning of celebrity hairdresser branded hair-care and beauty products.

Today there are a plethora manufactured by ‘global’ beauty companies like: Procter & Gamble (Vidal Sassoon), L’Oréal (Jean-Louis David), Estée Lauder (Bobbi Brown – Makeup Artist) and Unilever (Tigi for hair salons, Toni & Guy)…

And you may ask: are salon (professional) products better than High Street (retail) products? Sadly, No, they’re not better! But I know it’s what hairdressers, salons, have always wanted. Unfortunately, expensive, celebrity/professional shampoos aren’t better – £3.99 or £39.99 there’s not a lot of difference; you don’t get what you pay for!

The trouble is, there’s such a lot of bollocks talked about hairdressing products; in the end it’s all about money, the bottom line, sales, turnover… I remember all the fuss caused by Wella in the mid-late 1970s, when they removed Lifetex conditioner from their professional range and allowed Boots to sell it at half the fucking price that a salon could buy it for in the first place (supermarket purchasing power)! (Get your arse down to the supermarket, but talk with your stylist first!)

There have always been well-known ‘celebrity’ hairdressers: Marcel Grateau (Marcel wave), Antoine (original short bob cut), Raymond Bessone (Mr. Teasy-Weasy), Andre Bernard (royal hairdresser)… Vidal Sassoon… However, it is today’s branded High Street beauty products, celebrity culture and consumerism that have changed the hairdressing and fashion scene for the worst – maybe those carafes of shampoo weren’t so bad after all?

Naked Lunch on the Grass Avec Nicole Garré

Every time I google for something 70s fashion related, I find emmapeelpants, Liz Eggleston’s brilliant website. I couldn’t resist reposting this Cosmo. image – Naked Lunch on the Grass Avec Nicole Garré.

Jim Lee: The naked lunch - Cosmopolitan, June 1974. Nicole GarréThe naked lunch by Jim Lee (fashion photographer) for Cosmopolitan (June 1974) after Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (The Luncheon on the Grass) by Édouard Manet (1863). Courtesy of Miss Peelpants – Liz Eggleston

The naked redhead is Nicole Garré, my House Model at Ricci Burns. I did the hair but did not attend the photo session (just thinking: did someone else do it at the session?). I remember it well though, with lots of discussion and sarcy criticism from my fellow hairdressers on Nicole’s nudity; all seems pretty lame looking back on the image today.

House models were very much a part of my hairdressing life in the seventies; they get their hair done free, and they promote the salon for free.

Nicole Garré 1973/4 Marlowe Press. Photographer: Ian StokesNicole Garré Z-card. Photographer: Ian Stokes. Courtesy of The Model Archives of Marlowe Press.

The funny thing is, I can’t think of Nicole without thinking of her flat mate (and friend) Prudence Pratt (another one of Ricci Burns’ house models, not mine).

Prudence Pratt 1967 Marlowe Press. Photographer: Tony ShasraziPrudence Pratt (1967) Z-card. Photographer: Tony Shasrazi (full length). Courtesy of The Model Archives of Marlowe Press.

Prudence Pratt, 30, was killed on Sunday, 3 March 1974 in the Paris air crash. The crash known as ‘the Ermenonville air disaster’, after the forest where the Turkish Airlines Flight 981 (THY981) crashed. Prudence was one of about five models who were returning from a Paris fashion show; everyone on the flight died.

I remember the horror and dreadful upset that we all felt very vividly.

Credits

  • The Photographer Ian Stokes (Nicole’s Z-card – unable to contact!) – I worked with Stokes in the 70s for Honey and 19 magazines.
  • Miss PeelpantsMild Sauce: The Naked Lunch – Brilliant 60s and 70s related fashion archive.
  • The Model Archives of Marlowe Press – the definitive and Best archive of professional models from the world’s top agencies from 1965 to 1990 (thank you Peter).

Party Extravaganza – 1974 Style

Photographer David Anthony | Make-up Barbara Daly | Hair Ian Robson Ricci Burns | 19 magazine, November 1974 - Christmas issue

Photographer: David Anthony. Make-up: Barbara Daly. Hair: Ian (me) at Ricci Burns. 19 magazine, November 1974 – Christmas issue.
Scarves: Essences. Jewellery: Adrian Mann, London.

1974 was a funny old year.

I tied on more scarves as turbans than I would have liked in this odd session for 19 magazine. I did the front cover, a double page spread, four other full page pictures and I got loads of credits (mentions), but I hardly did any effing hair! Still, it was good to work with the iconic Barbara Daly.

I posted this image as a nod to the wonderful Miss Peelpants‘ nostalgic Seventies posts.