Twinkly-candle dinners in Notting Hill, a browse at Browns, a working lunch at Soho House—Julia LeStage, a media executive from Boston, has her London itinerary down. But her nonnegotiable first stop off the plane? Her top priority? The magnetic pull across the Atlantic? It’s…[opens Burberry trench]…sexy blonde British bed head.
That’s because a couple of times a year, when her roots are showing, LeStage hops into a chair at George Northwood in Fitzrovia. She gets London-made blonde, messy layers at the same salon where Alexa Chung’s shaggy lob was invented. And sometimes she brings her three daughters along, too, for their haircuts and a “tong” (Brit speak for messy curling-iron waves). For the four LeStage women, it’s exactly the kind of mussed cool they can’t get back home. “[My] stylist, Roi, is always on trend,” LeStage says. “He’s the hair king of our house.” That house being 3,269 miles away.
Because at a time when hairstylists and colorists have never been more famous—and their famous clients have never been more eager to evangelize their #bronde #blessings—people are flying for hair. London-based hairstylist George Northwood lists clients from “New York, Brazil, and Switzerland” off the top of his head. And at colorist Christophe Robin’s salon in Paris, the reservation book is full of regulars from Ukraine, South America, and California—not to mention border-crossers from around the continent.
“When people are prepared to travel to the other side of the planet, it implies they have a big problem they want you to solve,” Robin says. (“Big problem” in this case is, of course, a relative term.) “There is a lot of pressure involved in ‘fixing’ problems. Pressure is not always a gift.” Not that his clients are getting stress-y downdraft. Buenos Aires-based Rossella Della Giovampaola says she started going to Paris for her color because she “just felt it was time to make a change. That was in 1998. I trusted him 18 years ago, and I still do.” So once a month, she flies across four time zones to see Robin, then jets to London to visit her daughter.
So, yeah, this whole hair tourism thing is objectively ridiculous—and guess what? It gets even more extreme. There’s an elite, impeccably highlighted clientele who fly hairstylists, colorists, and pots of peroxide across continents to have their hair done in the comfort of their own homes. Hairstylist Chris McMillan, master of beachy, sexy California hair, flies from Los Angeles to Bangkok, London, and Gabon every few months for regular—and very wealthy—clients. Corinne Adams, a colorist at Serge Normant at John Frieda salon in New York City, heads to “Moscow, London, or Paris, wherever the client happens to be that month.”
More on beauty tourism:
- A Beauty Writer’s Guide to Visiting Seoul, Korea
- London’s Insider Beauty Spots You Need to Visit Right Now
- The Bay Area’s Blossoming Natural Beauty Scene
It makes schlepping cross-country for air-dryable layers seem…not that crazy? When Susan Henderson Tyler chased down Harry Josh back in 2003, she was just a fellow New Yorker looking for the guy behind Gisele’s hair—“we all wanted Gisele hair,” she says. Now, with Josh internationally famous and Henderson Tyler living in Nashville, exactly nothing has changed. Six times a year, without an appointment, she jumps on an early plane, then waits in the salon until he’s free. She flies home that night.
“This may sound crazy to some,” she says, “but I have to show up with my hair every day. The expense is well worth it.”
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