Having Jonathan Long attend to your hair is like watching a magician through the mirror of a hair salon. Take centre stage and you’re suddenly aware of an affable ball of energy circling your head, wielding a pair of scissors, and a magic touch.
One glance in the mirror and he’s to your left holding multiple jovial conversations with staff and clients around the salon; the next he’s to your right shouting advice to other stylists on a particular client’s hair preferences—but don’t let the all the banter fool you, this man does not forget the detail.
Still, Jonathan never loses sight of making you feel like you’re the exclusive guest picked to help complete his final act. You expect to leave the salon to a fanfare of applause unsure if you’re the special trick here or if it’s Jonathan.
Then there’s the hair. Somewhere between all the chatting, flirting, laughing, and keeping watchful eye on the salon he’s been chopping, teasing, and creating a masterpiece with your locks.
Today, Jonathan’s particular preference is for; “big fuck off hair,” he playfully tests me, positive that editors will never allow it into print, and stemming from his dislike of hair that looks like a “a big flat dodo on your head.”
This is a man that clearly loves his job and with such an adoring clientele it’s hard not to see why. Aside from the celebrities and the TV shows he’s worked on, it’s the buzz of the salon that he says he loves the most. “I’ve never enjoyed being a yes man,” he says referring to A-listers and their entourages. “It’s here where all the creativity is.”
Stylish, camel-coated, and high-booted women walk by the salon, waving and cooing through the window as he holds up a picture of his newborn baby daughter for the whole of Chelsea to see. A girl of around 10-years-old, who along with her mum has had her hair chopped into the salon’s trademark bob, also gets the Jonathan treatment; “You’re beautiful,” he tells her and as she’s grins and skips out the store you know there goes another fan.
Yet beyond the charm and the showmanship is a businessman who not only takes his work seriously but also sees his profession through no nonsense eyes. More than once he reiterates how he doesn’t believe in “snotty, stuck up salons…we’re hairdressers for god’s sake,” he says, “It should be fun.”
Each of his staff are put through a stringent recruitment process to make it into the salon—many of whom turn up at the door hoping for a place after hearing about the celebrity and media credentials.
It’s a formula that obviously works. With five other salons throughout the UK, Lockognego is Jonathan’s fifth venture and his only salon in London. He opened the store with business partner Ben Cooke—the celebrity hairdresser behind the likes of Victoria Beckham and Leona Lewis’ much coveted hairstyles and who was recently voted the Best Backstage Hair Stylist at the 2010 Hair Awards.
The show goes on. Jonathan is talking to me and asking his assistant who is helping to lift my hair into obscene proportions if she’s happy. “All that matters to me is that you’re happy,” he says with a flick, a twist, and quick blast from the dryer. Just to make it clear: this is not for show, you get the feeling he genuinely means it.
A second later and he’s excusing himself as he dashes out of the door with an invitation in hand to give to a Harpers editor he spots crossing the street. He’s soon back, apologising, laughing, and clipping up another piece of hair, while he explains that, “part of my job is often like being a concierge. I’m always introducing my clients to each other.” There’s that detail thing again—you see beyond all the talking he’s listened to everything you’ve been telling him. No wonder the ladies love him. No he’s not gay.
“I have the best job in the world,” he tells me. “I get to chat to beautiful women all day and then I get to go home and see my wife and kids.” Of his likes; aside from a penchant for luxury watches and courting the life that his clients invite him along, Jonathan’s favourite day of the week is Sunday when he takes his three-year-old son to Starbucks to read the ‘papers’ together before cooking Sunday dinner together for his wife. Big awws all round.
I decide it’s time to try to get the low-down on some of these celebrity clients. Naomi Campbell and Girl’s Aloud have all been at the hands of Jonathan. I am however too slow to get him to spill any revelations and he sees that one coming too quickly.
Looking at me directly through the mirror, he cocks his head to one side and tells me in an elaborately camp accent; “Everybody’s gorgeous darling.” With a wink and a smile, my hair is f***ing big (and gets me three wolf whistles on the way home), my chair is spun round, the curtains come down, and the show is over. Brilliant.
Lockonego, 394 Kings Road, London, SW10 0LN
020 7795 1798