The London Look: Talking Shop With Josh Wood and George Northwood
For the pond-hopping elite, Josh Wood is a demigod. Londoners like Elle Macpherson, Sam Taylor-Wood, and Laura Bailey keep his number close at hand and visiting starlets including January Jones swear by the King of Color for the kind of golden flaxen that is the envy of the SoCal set. Then there’s his backstage cred: those ombré gray wigs at Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2011 show, and the icy blondes at Louis Vuitton for Spring were both classic Wood. With the opening of his new Atelier of hairdressing earlier this Fall, the King now has a proper court to call his own. Nestled in London’s Holland Park, the destination is “a club of creativity,” as Wood calls it, that gathers the best of the cutting, coloring, and styling worlds under one well-designed roof. The new space supplies innovation at every turn—from complimentary iPads and an in-house chef to specially formulated hair-conditioning smoothies and super-stylist “pop-up” residencies. Here, Wood and his stylist, George Northwood, talk to Style.com about color that promotes “stealth, not wealth,” groomed but effortless cuts, and creating an environment that is plenty hip but never intimidating.
So why an “atelier” rather than a status quo salon?
Josh Wood: Because we’re working with some of the most creative people in the industry and have so much energy under one roof. I think it was important to create a space that could house many different talents, whether they come from the session world or the salon. It’s time to break down the division between the two camps; you can work in both worlds and bring inspiration from each. It allows our stylists to grow and nurture their careers alongside the salon brand. George’s work particularly—the way he cuts and styles is not forced or overdone, just exquisitely groomed and contemporary—has the energy of how I think modern styling should look.
George Northwood: For me, its about being a part of something so creative where different stylists and colorists are out and about doing different jobs, then bringing it back to the table to inspire one another. It has really opened my mind to the concept of there being multiple ways of working—there’s no fixed method. And people feel so comfortable to be here, it doesn’t feel like a salon and it’s so relaxed. The whole experience is first-class, but it’s not intimidating—it’s not too cool for school, and I love that clients recognize that!
Seeing as how both of you put in time on set and backstage at shows, what big hair trends are you seeing for the coming season?
JW: For color I feel it’s still all about stealth, not wealth—getting exactly the right hair color for your skin tone and eye color, something that is beyond natural. Moving into Spring, the focus is on lightness. Clean tones, like the blondes I did at Louis Vuitton, with a gelato twist of pistachio, peach, and palest pink. Then I think color will become more expressive again next Fall. We’ll be moving from the beyond-natural and incredibly pale tones to a more bold and vivid color.
GN: In terms of cuts, people don’t want to look too done—the aim is to be groomed, but effortless. There’s a real backlash to over-styling in London. It’s not about being too “boho” or especially undone, but chic, sleek, and naturally cool. For next Spring, my motto is, ‘small heads are big noise!’ The hair will be groomed closer to the head, which gives you permission for a shorter haircut. The roots are flatter and smooth, but there’s more volume through the mid lengths and ends. By the end of next year, we’ll see a natural return to more directional cutting—more precision cuts.
What’s next for the Atelier?
JW: We’re looking for international partners to form relationships with other people at the cutting edge of the industry. We have top makeup artists, such as Kay Montano, making guest appearances, and of course Eugene Souleiman—who I work alongside regularly—will be popping up from time to time.
Josh Wood Atelier, 6 Lansdowne Mews, London W11; To book an appointment, e-mail email@example.com.