The most genuine person in the beauty industry? Perhaps. As well as styling the likes of Margot Robbie and accompanying Sam Smith to the Academy Awards, Paul Edmonds is also one of the kindest people working in haircare. Year’s ago, your correspondent was let down by a hairdresser right before a big event, I called Paul on a Friday night and he met me at his salon in Knightsbridge on a Sunday – his day off – and got me red-carpet ready. This year, he adds to his offering a second Paul Edmonds salon in Battersea Power Station. We caught up with the master stylist to learn all about the new location and to hear more about his decades-long career, styling hair for major Hollywood films, being named the official hair partner of the BAFTAs, and so much more!
1. Tell me about finding and designing the Battersea Power Station salon?
Looking for a second site for the business has been on my mind for years. When Battersea Power Station approached us with the opportunity to potentially open in the BPS complex, I jumped at the chance! The Battersea Power Station development is one of the most exciting projects in Europe. The Knightsbridge area, where our initial salon is located, is very much the traditional London; whereas, I think the power station complex, while retaining some of its historical characteristics, is forward-looking, international and iconic. It is a landmark that’s world renowned and a development that I had to be a part of. I believe that when looking at a business, it’s not just about the now and where you’ve come from, but also about the future. As a salon that’s what we represent.
Alongside my business partner and luxury designers, Waldo Works (their clients include Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Smythson), we created our second home. Our Knightsbridge salon is both glamourous and luxurious, while feeling approachable and homely. I wanted the same feel at Battersea Power Station, so we incorporated elements of deco and mid-century heritage to fit with the power station’s architectural look and feel.
2. Specifically, with your vast experience in the hair and beauty industry- when designing a space from scratch, exactly how you want it, what are some of the key features and non-negotiables?
One of the most important design aspects for me was to ensure the client’s journey was full of experiences, which are personalised to their needs. When designing a space the client is at the forefront.
Some of our key features at BPS include swapping the reception desk for a Ruinart champagne bar, creating a VIP area where all salon services can take place but is completely private from both outside and the rest of the salon. Another key feature was introducing a colour bar, a dedicated space where clients can watch their colour being made by our team of colour experts. And of course being Shu Uemura’s flagship salon, we have exclusively Shu Uemura products.
Being a hair and beauty salon, we need back washes; however, ours are fully lie down beds from Japan, which are so comfortable!
3. You’ve had an incredible career – walk me through some of the highlights and landmark moments along the way to getting where you are today?
Coming to London age 21 from a small town in the Midlands was a huge highlight and one that probably set me on a certain course. I started at the BBC where I taught make up artists how to apply salon hairdressing techniques. I worked with and met some amazing people there. I then opened my first Knightsbridge salon in 1984, which was a major landmark in my career! It was a time when fashion, hair and beauty were becoming very exciting.
Another highlight was when I started working in film. I was the only hairdresser who could do a short back and sides, which matched the brief, for the film Chariots of Fire. Recently I styled hair for Fantastic Beasts, Tarzan, and both Mamma Mia films. And becoming a BAFTA member was the icing.
Due to my experience of working within the film, TV and Music industries, going to the OSCARS in 2017 was an experience to remember. My career in film and television lead to our latest venture, being the official hair partner of the EE British Academy Film Awards, merging the amazing talent my team have, our amazing clients who have been part of the journey through the years and seeing our brand at the awards was amazing.
4. Talk me through some of the trends in hair right now – in cuts, styling and colouring?
I like to put trends into two categories, movements and micro trends. Movements are a general lifestyle trend. There is the Athleisure movement, wash n’ wear hair or hand-dried hair worn in a textured jaw-length bob or short clipper crop. High-end 70’s/80’s glam hair with waves or worn straight, with a bit higher gloss finish, rather than a rough beach wave is also a movement. Fringes are definitely in, worn either heavy and rounded or long and made wispy so as to wear over the eyes or swept to the side for that 70’s feel. I have seen a return of the permed soft fro, with a soft rounded look, as more people are embracing their natural hair. For men, I see many following the barbering movement with close-cut edges and longer through the top layers. Wigs, I predict, will have an increase, as people are wanting constant change with new lengths and looks depending on how they feel and who they want to be.
5. You do a lot of red carpet hair – how does styling someone for the red carpet or a big event differ from everyday styling?
For red carpets you are creating a style, which has to last for many hours in potentially any weather. Red carpets can take a while to walk from one end to the other. The style then has to last for the event and for any after parties! When styling for red carpet you must take into account the outfit, jewellery and any hair accessories, just like with everyday styling to a certain extent. However, with the red carpet all eyes are on the star, so the client can be more nervous, their fashion stylist and publicists may also want to convey a certain look and image, which you must be able to manage at an instant. I love to fill my client with confidence, something you also need for those red carpet walks!
6. What are you most proud of?
My daughters and my Paul Edmonds team! I mentor and train my family of experts. I’m not going to live forever, so having a fully trained team, full of expertise will create a fantastic legacy for Paul Edmonds London in the future and possibility expanding into more locations.
I am also proud of still being relevant after all these years of being in the business.
7. What would you do differently now, looking back?
When I was younger I wish I’d been braver with decisions and stuck harder to what I believed was right. I was always a people pleaser so often gave way. However, would I be who I am now? Maybe not. I have grown as an individual from all those mistakes. Finally, I wish I’d realised sooner that I’m quite good at what I do. For years I thought I would be found out that I was average.
8. What is the most exciting product or development in hair at the moment?
I think it’s the new nano technology, which is helping to keep hair in great condition and rebuilds the hair while colouring. It means now we can create and recreate hair colour and styles that were impossible before.