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Love me, love my stylist

COIFFEUR confidential: make the person who does your hair your heir?

It may sound odd but actually it’s perfectly understandable.

We have recently been presented with a moving testament to a very special relationship: that between a woman and her hairdresser, the coiffeur/euse and the coiffed.

Two sisters left their €480,000 fortune to their groomer of the past 40 years, a crony so intimate she had stopped charging the pair (aka The Ultimate Feminine Fantasy). The dowagers’ relatives may be scandalised but every other woman out there is likely to shrug, toss her tresses and conclude that this is only just.

Lovers and husbands may come and go but a hairdresser is for life — or, at least, until the moment you leave the salon looking curiously like your mother.

Part shrink, part priest, the hairdresser transforms his or her client in a way that is as much psychological as follicular. Indeed, many of us retain a slavish loyalty long after the magic has gone out of the mane, the locks being secondary to the talking cure. As one celebrity snipper pouts: “If I’d known how much of this job entailed psychiatric skills, I’d have gone to medical school rather than learning to perm.”

He or she may be a Svengali, a girlfriend or a gay best friend, but the person who touches a woman’s hair touches her soul.

Hairdressers constitute not only a captive but a caressing audience, creators of a safe and beautiful space in which confidences pour like soothing oils.

Those straight stylists who model themselves on the shag-happy Warren Beatty in Shampoo miss the point: the intimacy between hairdresser and acolyte is far more intimate than that of mere intercourse.

This affinity may become a matter of life or death. “Without my hairdresser,” an acquaintance acknowledges, “I wouldn’t have survived chemo. He dragged me through it by the hair — and when there was no hair left, he kept on dragging.”

Marie Antoinette’s friseur, Leonard, was not only crucial in the abortive Bourbon escape from Paris but also performed a strategic role by smuggling information to the royals after their incarceration.

Most of us can relate then in a way to the British sisters who left their money to their long-time stylist and confidant. Our celebrities are wont to be even more reliant on their hairdressers than us mere mortals. Kate Moss has the Croydon homeboy and mop-top tonsor James Brown.

Jennifer Aniston is said to have paid her hairdresser €45,000 to squire her around Europe, devising a style that critics argued could have been pulled off with a pair of straighteners.

Nevertheless, while Aniston’s love life is littered with Hollywood cannon fodder, Chris McMillan has been her leading man ever since he concocted “the Rachel”.

And in last week’s seminal instalment of Katie & Alex: For Better, For Worse on ITV2, the glamour model and the cage fighter had their union blessed. The groom proved a baboonish figure, loafing about in various states of undress or applying the bride’s hand to his privates.

The hero of the hour was her bouffant-builder: personable, supportive, handy with a can of Elnett. Well, she has already proved she has an enduring relationship with one man.


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