BLOW-DRIES FOR GUYS

Yes, re­ally. The ‘guy dry’ is one of this year’s big­gest beauty trends. But could we con­vince short-back-and-sides-lov­ing Ed Cum­ming?

The Mail on Sunday - You - - Editor’s Letter - PHO­TOGRAPHS G E M M A D AY

Hair­dresser to the stars Larry King has promised me a blow-dry and I am ex­cited. It means that I’m part of the men’s groom­ing zeit­geist, be­cause the male blow-dry – the man dry; the guy dry? – is once more in fash­ion. Not since the 1980s have men been quite so at­tached to their hairdry­ers.

Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search com­pany Min­tel, male groom­ing isn’t sim­ply the fastest-grow­ing seg­ment in per­sonal care; men are cur­rently more en­gaged than women, with six per cent more on­line hair searches last year. Not to men­tion the ef­fect of TV shows such as Love Is­land (with Jack Fin­cham al­most sur­gi­cally at­tached to his hairdryer) and Queer Eye to en­cour­age men to prop­erly blow- dry their bar­nets.

Larry has been gen­tly try­ing to en­cour­age blokes back into his chair for a few years, but even he has no­ticed an up­surge in in­ter­est of late. Bouf­fant is back. Af­ter the short-back-and-sides era, men have been left with more hair than usual on top, so it makes sense that the re­sponse has been to sweep it up in a pre­cise, vo­lu­mi­nous pom­padour.

And frankly, if there’s any­one you want with their fin­gers in your fol­li­cles, it’s Larry, hair­dresser to the beauest of the monde. Since its open­ing last Jan­uary, his sa­lon in Lon­don’s South Kens­ing­ton has be­come the go-to for the sort of men who make oth­ers mum­ble en­vi­ously un­der their breath: foot­ballers, ac­tors, mod­els, mu­si­cians. Over the course of Larry’s ca­reer, his clients have con­sis­tently helped set the agenda for men’s hair: mod­els David Gandy and Oliver Cheshire, foot­ball pun­dit Jamie Red­knapp and ac­tors Jamie Dor­nan and Jared Leto.

Con­sid­er­ing its fancy clien­tele, the space is sur­pris­ingly un­pre­ten­tious, with the at­mos­phere of a café or a chilled night­club. I am al­ready look­ing for­ward to hav­ing an en­vi­ably glossy and pow­er­ful-look­ing mane, for at least an af­ter­noon. But there’s a prob­lem. Larry fixes me with a gim­let eye and ap­praises my sorry lid. I have had the same Lego hair­cut since pri­mary school, and have only used a hairdryer to evap­o­rate tea spilt on my trousers. No, I don’t use prod­uct; yes, I towel it dry. It is no use play­ing the ‘I don’t care about that stuff ’ card here. Larry and his team know, quite rightly, that a lack of groom­ing is as much of a state­ment as the most metic­u­lous preen­ing.

‘Ooh,’ Larry says, ‘I just don’t

think it’s long enough.’ His voice is kindly but firm – the tone of a master crafts­man who has looked un­der the sink and dis­cov­ered the botch jobs of his pre­de­ces­sors. ‘It’s just not go­ing to make much dif­fer­ence.’ His art needs a big­ger can­vas. An al­ter­na­tive model is sum­moned and ap­pears al­most at once. Danny has a win­ning smile, lovely long hair, the physique of a mar­tial arts trainer and seem­ingly no more press­ing en­gage­ments on a week­day af­ter­noon.

‘Men are tak­ing much more care of them­selves in gen­eral,’ Larry ex­plains, while Danny is prepped for ac­tion. ‘They’re in­ter­ested in what they’re wear­ing, shop­ping more, even get­ting Bo­tox. I tell all my clients to blow- dry their hair be­cause it helps main­tain the style when they’ve washed it. We’re see­ing a re­vival of a look that was last pop­u­lar in the 80s and, be­fore that, in the 50s. Think of Michael Dou­glas in Wall Street or Richard Gere in Pretty Woman. In the up­com­ing Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hol­ly­wood, Brad Pitt has a hair­cut that is sim­i­lar to the clas­sic Robert Red­ford look.’

Larry is wear­ing a base­ball cap back­wards, con­ceal­ing his hair, and

Less Play­mo­bil, more play­boy: Ed mod­els his freshly blowed bar­net. Now, how are you with the beard trim­mer, Larry? I won­der if his own rug will be a let­down in the way that those peo­ple who work on cos­met­ics coun­ters have the worst make-up on earth. I couldn’t be more wrong. He re­moves the hat to re­veal a mag­nif­i­cent mane. ‘I blow-dry mine when­ever I style it,’ he says. ‘I have a lot of grey, which can be drier and coarser. Blow- dry­ing helps it to stick out more, and with a bit of the right prod­uct you can make it less fluffy and give it more shine.’ Which is good to know be­cause ac­cord­ing to the Jour­nal of Per­son­al­ity and So­cial Psy­chol­ogy, con­fi­dence is even more im­por­tant for suc­cess than tal­ent – and grey hair is a key con­fi­dence knocker for all men.

Per­haps Larry has found the non- dy­ing so­lu­tion for us all. ‘Tech­nol­ogy helps, too’, he adds. Dyson, sens­ing the op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit male techno-nerdish­ness in a whole new mar­ket, has cre­ated a hairdryer with a heat sen­sor to stop hair be­ing dam­aged by ex­cess heat. Larry’s pre­ferred mousse is by Red­ken, which, I am dis­ap­pointed to dis­cover, does not make you start talk­ing about Adolf Hitler and col­lect­ing newts.

With the dryer in hand and a few prac­tised finger strokes, Larry whips Danny’s hair into an el­e­gant pomp. One of my ob­jec­tions to the blow- dry is the ex­tra faff and fuss, but Larry is done in less than ten min­utes, with im­pres­sive re­sults. Some­how, Danny be­comes even more hand­some. See­ing me gaz­ing up like a labrador at a bar­be­cue, he re­lents. ‘Let’s see what we can do,’ he says. I set­tle into the chair and watch as he gets to work. Even with my Play­mo­bil do, what he achieves is im­pres­sive. My hair seems to lift and thicken. I feel as though my face has grown longer.

‘There you go,’ Larry says. ‘Now don’t come back for six months.’

More grisly than groomed, Ed’s run­down rug is given the once-over by celebrity hair­dresser Larry King, whose West Lon­don sa­lon is a mecca for male style set­ters

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