Wandering through Westbourne Grove, in west London’s fashionable Notting Hill, you’ll be routinely blinded by the sun reflecting off an army of highly lacquered coiffeurs bouncing down the street.
There’s a very high chance that these well-kempt barnets are the handiwork of neighbourhood favourite 77 Salon, discreetly tucked away on a leafy side street.
Owned by Loïc Guerin, a French hairdresser, whose chic Gallic style underpins the salon’s ethos of less is more. This is not the kind of place you’ll come out with a heady of streaky highlights, whether you asked for them or not.
Treatment and stylist
Half a head of balayage with Jeremy and a cut and blow dry with Dario. £210
You’ll feel like you’ve blacked out and accidentally boarded a Eurostar to Paris. The staff are French, the clientele are mostly French and Italian locals and in summer you’re offered a glass of Provençal rose on entry – Je ne regretted rien.
The bijou salon is tucked away on Westbourne Park Road and it’s black-painted exterior and lack of signage means that if you didn’t know what you were looking for there’s a good chance you’d miss it.
Inside though, it feels as if you’ve stepped into a top floor Paris apartment, with bright overhanging lights, grey and black stylish fittings and the dulcet tones of French radio in the background.
But like a little studio in the Marais district, the modern space is dotted with antique trinkets, statement cornices and manicured houseplants. After an hour in one of their grey chairs, you’ll be thinking wistfully about baguettes and Breton tops.
My appointment falls on a hot summer day in June, the same day coincidentally that Theresa May has stepped down as prime minister. When I arrive the salon is alive with chatter, clients and stylists engaged in amiable debate about the manner of her resignation. Amid the hubbub I’m whisked into a chair and offered a glass of cold rose, so far so civilised.
Clutching my wine I am greeted by Dario, one of the senior stylists and explain I am looking to freshen up my highlighted blonde hair and tidy up my roots. The salon specialises in balayage, which Dario says is the main draw among his European clients, who favour a sophisticated natural look.
After some coaxing I am persuaded to abandon my usual bleach blonde foil highlights in favour of a softer balayage look. My colour is done by a young stylist called Jeremy, who I am assured, has got balayage down to a fine art. Jeremy works deftly picking out sections of my hair and painting them freehand with an array of blonde shades, designed to create a natural layered look, with a lighter colour around the front. After about half an hour Jeremy leads me over to the basins and after washing out the dye, applies two different toners, which are methodically massaged into different sections of the hair.
Finally I am reacquainted with Dario, who listens to my grumbling about the terrible condition of decades-bleached hair and snips off a couple of inches of split ends before blow drying the whole thing into a swishy, golden coiffeur not dissimilar the one’s I saw earlier traversing Westbourne Grove.
Overall rating: 8/10
The colour is just as Jeremy described, a complex blonde with hints of honey, gold and ash. My roots retain their natural dirty blonde but have been delicately softened so that when my hair grows out it won’t have the harsh line that you get with foils. The salon and staff are fantastic and if you’re looking for refined balayage look this is the place to go.
I feel very chic when I saunter out of the salon several hours later, although I know deep in my brassy-blonde heart that when I get my hair done again I’ll probably revert to my usual bleach and foils.
77 Salon. 77 Westbourne Park Rd, London, W2 5QH