Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The House of Worthington; in Association withFrom Emma Stone to Tracey Emin, He's the Global Glossy Posse's Secret Weapon. Here, Anne McElvoy Chats 30 Years of Bobs, Brondes and Balayage with the Super-Stylist

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The House of Worthington; in Association withFrom Emma Stone to Tracey Emin, He's the Global Glossy Posse's Secret Weapon. Here, Anne McElvoy Chats 30 Years of Bobs, Brondes and Balayage with the Super-Stylist

Article excerpt

Byline: Anne McElvoy

CHARLES Worthington is in his upstairs den, high above the clatter of his Percy Street salon, around the corner from where he first set hair trends three decades ago. The veteran of stylish London hairdressers looks like a gentler Simon Cowell: expensive tan, white shirt and wide grin. Ruffled would be the polite word for his hair, which is glossy but standing on end. "It's a good way to check if a cut works," he protests.

Downstairs a team of his stylists -- 100 or so -- are snipping, colouring and transforming mousy heads into shiny golden locks and pallid greys to slinky ash blondes. This month, he celebrates three decades of telling us how to tame and tease our crowning glories.

A new generation of big names still trundles to him to avert bad hair days in the public gaze. The day I arrive to see him, Emma Stone has been consulting his chief stylist, Mathew Soobroy, on a colour change. Post the La La Land Oscar, she's ditching Titian red for honey blonde to play a maid in The Favourite, an 18th-century drama. The entire Broadchurch cast owe their tousled hair dos in season two to the salon.

From Brondes to Balayage, waterfall braids to razor partings, Worthington has influenced the looks of the catwalk. "The risks are what you remember," he says. "We sent models down the catwalk for Erdem with waterfall braids." They're fiddly, those plaited waterfall styles, I object. Lopsided ones look great on willowy teenagers -- it's harder to pull off at home for the over-25s.

The first Charles Worthington salon was set up in Charlotte Street in 1987 on a budget of under PS10,000. Flicking through the styles he's imparted since Madonna and the Bee Gees were in the charts is also a guide to Londoners' changing tastes: I remember the Eighties as perms and boring bobs but apparently I wasn't in the right hair zone. He even defends the perm. Technology has developed a lot, he says, and the perm might yet have its day again. One of his "dressy" stylists, Gorka, shows me how to put a medium-length bob into an updo (answer -- with more hairspray and pins than you have seen outside a Pedro Almodovar movie).

Worthington is a reserved, well-spoken type in the world of attention-loving, chirpy celeb stylists. He has his MBE from the Queen. His parents expected him to be an architect. "They were surprised but very tolerant when I announced I was going to do hair. It wasn't the first career choice for middle-class chaps at the time in a lot of eyes."

His first famous customers were Jonathan Ross and model Jodie Kidd. Worthington has used the A-list carefully, gaining confidence and then suggesting a sweeping change of style. He persuaded the model Erin O'Connor to cut off her locks for a cropped look. "It was risky for a model at the time but she liked the idea that a haircut could give the impression of female power. …

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