The Inner Beauty Of Leon Hamme

malcolm mcdowell

I don’t know if a picture of Leon exists? I always thought he looked like Malcolm McDowell, which is why I’ve included a picture of him (above), to give you an impression and set the scene! This picture of McDowell is very Leon.

My first memory of Leon was the two of us sitting in the back of a London taxi one dark, wet winter’s night in 1972/3. We were late, as per usual, travelling from Ricci’s George Street salon to the King’s Road salon for model night. He was a well seasoned hairdresser, probably at his pinnacle and I was a n00bie Junior in my renaissance. We talked of my progress, he casually told me not to worry and that I’d do well. I was hanging on to his every word, but by his tone I knew he didn’t care.

Leon talked as if I wasn’t there, he soliloquised about ‘creating The look’ and ‘bringing out a client’s personality’, his lofty words floated way above my head and I struggled to take it all in. Unfortunately our ‘conversation’ was cut short by our arrival and we didn’t ever talk of such things again.

I moved to the King’s Road salon and after a short time Leon left Ricci Burns. I asked Tina if she had any memories (I nearly wrote mammaries – Freudian slip) of Leon? Tina replied, “Once, Leon was finishing his 5 o’clock client and Reception were getting his client to pay so they could cash up. When they presented her with the bill, Leon noticed that her name was Mrs. Odsog, and proceeded to start giggling as he had recently had a ‘smoke’ and he found her name hilarious. It turned out that he had a friend who had a cat called Odd-sock and he told the client! She wasn’t amused at having the piss taken out of her!” And I thought, oh yeah – That was so typically Leon!

Skip forward a few years until about 1980/81; I’d been to Paris to do a fashion show and photo session, on my return I ended up in Windsor waiting for a lift home – I think. Anyway, I was in Windsor, looking around, killing time – And there he was, Leon, standing outside a hairdressing salon (Chess-Set, Church Street, Windsor) having a smoke. He greeted me like a long lost friend, eager to hear of past times. He looked totally out of place to me. And we became friends for a short time – maybe for four or five years.

We would normally meet-up for lunch and sometimes we’d swap haircuts. We talked of old times, and apart from the drugs, we discovered we had had carbon copy career paths – almost. But, Leon Hamme, my creative role model, was now on a downward spiral. He floated from salon to salon, Chess-Set, Cassidy, the Holiday Inn, he was freelance, he was probably on heroin! And the last I heard of him, was that he was going to do a film – 1985 Max Headroom (TV movie) (Leon Hamme: assistant hair stylist)!

Fast-forward to Tuesday 26th November 2013, I’m reading the news and I see, Where fantasy ends and reality begins: Unnerving images show multi-ethnic women digitally merged with Barbie dolls – Epiphany. There it is, a photograph that makes clear Leon’s dream like soliloquy.

Sheila Pree BrightSheila Pree Bright’s ‘Plastic Bodies’, like Katie Piper, transcend what most people think of as real beauty and asks us to look at the individual within. We all have a complex range of ideas of what Beauty is, these ideas are mainly foisted upon us by the commercialisation of society – I think that the Barbie doll itself, is a perfect example the false, airbrushed, synthetic, siliconed and plasticised world we live in. And Sheila Pree Bright’s beautiful and fascinating images give us all a slap around the face and say Wake Up – They did to me anyway!

Hair colourist Lester Baldwin once said to me, “Leon Hammé is the world’s best hairdresser by far.” I don’t know the final part to his story, I’m pretty sure he popped his clogs in the 1980s! He certainly had an inner beauty and he was way ahead of his time.

Use Hair Colour To Set The Tone


Hair normally gets brighter for the spring and summer, and richer for the autumn and winter.

If “cutting hair is the most basic form of cosmetic surgery” (quote Ricci Burns c. 1974), then “colouring hair is the most basic form of make-up” (quote Lester Baldwin c. 1975, now at John Frieda, I think). Getting your hair colour right will give you that wow effect, make you feel gorgeous, take ten years off (esp., if you have grey hair) and most importantly, make you feel more confident about yourself.

There has been a trend for as long as I’ve been around in hairdressing that hair colour gets lighter (brighter, blonder) in the spring and summer and darker (warmer, richer) in the autumn and winter. If your hair is looking dull, you can have natural beachcomber effect chunky highlights to brighten your hair or rich copper lowlights and natural blonde highlights for a gleaming gold shimmer to warm you up. Highlights are an alternative and effective way of adding colour.

How to choose the right colour for you

Choosing the correct hair colour starts with looking at your natural hair colour, skin tone and your eyes, not the season. Your hair, skin tone and eyes can be warm or cool. Warm colours are based on reds, browns and yellows. Cool colours are based on blues, greens and pinks. To work out what skin-tone you are hold up a pink (cool), yellow (neutral) and peach fabric swatch to your cheek.

Cool, Neutral and Warm Colours

  • Cool hair colours are: blonde, natural brown, black
  • Cool skin undertones are: blue, pink (veins on your wrist look bluish)
  • Cool eyes are (normally): blue, grey
  • Cool clothes: a white trouser suit looks wonderful on you!
  • Neutral hair colours are: can be any colour, however, they are neither warm, nor cool!
  • Neutral skin undertones are: unspecifiable! pink, olive, yellow
  • Neutral eyes are: can be any colour
  • Neutral clothes: you can wear any colour clothing
  • Warm hair colours are: black, brown, red, auburn, blonde, honey blonde
  • Warm skin undertones are: yellow, orange, olive (veins on your wrist look greenish)
  • Warm eyes are (normally): brown, green, hazel
  • Warm clothes: don’t wear white, wear cream. You would look great in earth tones


There are three types of hair colouring: permanent, semi-permanent and something in-between.

A permanent hair colour (called a tint) will change the hair’s colour permanently to almost any colour. As the hair grows you will get roots which will need tinting every four – five weeks depending on the colour and how quickly your hair grows.

A semi-permanent colour only coats the hair with a colour and lasts for six – twelve washes, it gradually fades away in a manner that looks natural. Semi-permanent colour is wonderful for adding shine and depth, however, one can’t lighten the hair with a semi-permanent.

The something in-between (I use Wella Colour Touch and L’Oreal Richesse Diacolor) is a cross between a permanent and a semi-permanent hair colour. It works in a similar way to a permanent but fades like a semi-permanent, lasts for eight – twelve washes. It is great for adding condition, vibrant colour tones and the ultimate intense shine.

Don’t forget, highlights and lowlights.

Skin Sensitivity Test

Occasionally people are sensitive to certain ingredients in hair colourants. I will always do a preliminary skin test on clients who are having a hair colour for the first time. If there are any signs of inflammation or irritation, I will not be using that product on your hair. A consultation and skin test will cost £25.

Please read Hair Colour and Cancer then go to Promotions and get yourself a “first time” voucher!