We let Mayfair’s finest loose on our locks for a full-blown bridal cut and colour consultation
Photos Joanna Bongard
I haven’t had my hair cut for two years and it shows. Growing up in the days before serum and straighteners, and scarred for life by my nan’s DIY trims, the relationship between my tresses and the coiffeur’s scissors has always been a long-distance one. I’d rather go to the dentist than the hairdresser, and perhaps that’s why the editor chose me to test-drive Nicky Clarke Hair Salon’s colour offering for brides-to-be.
Settling into a chair at the group’s chic London parlour opposite The Connaught, I’m introduced to specialist colour consultant Mark William Selley and advanced director Ondine Cowley. I’m booked in for a blow-dry, but Ondine – the salon’s wedding specialist – insists on staying late to give me that overdue cut (much to Mark’s relief). Happy I’m in a safe pair of hands, I even start to get excited about it.
Before all of that, though, comes the colour. The goth in me instinctively wants to go darker, but Mark suggests some soft, freehand highlights. While he paints two tones of colour onto strands of my hair and wraps them in foil, he explains that your wedding is no time to experiment. Riffing on the mantra that brides should look like the very best version of themselves for the big day, he’s adamant that your wedding is not the moment to discover whether blondes really do have more fun. The colours he’s chosen for me will emphasise my natural dark-brown hair and brighten my skin tone, rather than make a dramatic statement.
Mark’s balayage painting technique lets him tailor a bride’s hair colour to the style she’d like on the day. I prefer to wear my hair down, but if I was opting for an up-do, he’d avoid going too harsh on the colour around the face. His freehand practice also helps disguise my work-related grey hairs in a natural-looking way.
Dye applied, it’s a 25-minute wait until the foils are removed and I’m whisked upstairs to Ondine. She changes my parting, deftly covers my curls in rollers and quickly transforms my lank locks into big, tumbling waves. My hair now dry, I can see the subtle, golden strands scattered throughout – and I really, really like it. That’s something I never thought I’d say after leaving a hairdressers.
Mark’s top hair tips for brides-to-be
• If you’re getting married out of town and want your usual hairdresser to style it, give them plenty of notice – six months is normal, but a year is best.
• You’ll need at least six months for consultation and preparation, particularly if you’re getting dyed. To let it settle, the final round of colour should happen seven to 10 days ahead of the ceremony. If you’ve got lots of greys, opt for no more than three days before.
• Organise hair and make-up trials for the same day, so the two looks complement one another: a bold up-do and striking make-up could take you OTT when they join forces on the morning itself.
• Bring any accessories you plan to wear, especially flowers in the hair. Daisies will get lost in blonde locks; yellow petals make lighter hair colours pop for all the wrong reasons.
• Bring photos of your dress and show your colourist any colour schemes. You’ll avoid unsightly clashes, and no one wants, say, a long mane camouflaging the gorgeous detail of a backless dress.
• Tiaras? Unless you’ve got royal blood, steer clear.
Nicky Clarke Hair Salon Mayfair, 11 Carlos Place, W1K 3AX
tel: 020 7491 4700
Hair colouring with Mark William Selley starts at £250 for a full head of highlights. A bridal cut and blow-dry with Ondine Cowley goes from £190.