A trendsetter in the hair and beauty industry, Josh Wood has been making a name for himself for the past two decades. The London-based hair colorist opened his first atelier in Notting Hill, which he quickly followed up with another location inside the beloved London department store Liberty. Most recently, Wood debuted Atelier Beauté, where some of the U.K.’s foremost beauty experts will coif, wax, massage and tan you. Despite the demands of his growing empire, the iconic stylist took some time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about all things beauty.
You opened your gorgeous West London salon, the Lansdowne Atelier, in 2011 and followed up with the launch of the Atelier Beauté spa at the same location in January. What’s the philosophy behind them?
I’d been working in Chelsea for around 10 years, and I knew it was time to do something that felt different, something a little more private. Very quickly, a lot of creatives contacted us that were in a very similar position as me, where we were doing lots of different things — I do photo shoots; I have a consultancy with Wella [Professionals]; I travel with a lot of my clients. We were here two years and then we took the whole building and opened Atelier Beauté. So we’ve got the full 360-degree approach to grooming and looking after our clients. The basic principle is that we really only work with the best in the world [wax pro Kim Lawless, browista Jenna Treat, masseuse Carla Williams], so we’ve got experts across all of the beauty treatments and, of course, color and styling.
How did you go about selecting the different brands and experts for your ateliers?
Most of them came because our clients were already using those people or using the products. It was very much led by what our clients wanted. A few of them are people that I’ve known and worked with over many years —[nail guru] Marian Newman, [luxurious Hungarian beauty brand] Omorovicza, [tanning expert] James Read — so it makes sense that we all come together under one roof.
You’ve created a very discreet, yet relaxed, atmosphere at the salon. Why did you go in that direction?
A large percentage of my clients — many of whom are high-profile — want discretion, but also there was always that idea that you can let your hair down when you get in. It’s not like going somewhere where you’ve got to feel conscious about the way you look or what you’re wearing. I didn’t really like working in salons anymore; I didn’t like those environments. I guess because I was working more and more in photographic studios, I quite liked the way that there’s a protectiveness when you’re on a photo shoot, and I think that trying to translate that into the atelier was very important to me.
I’ve developed a smoothie that’s got 37 ingredients that look after hair, skin and nails. We give clients an iPad; there are phone chargers everywhere; there’s a menu — sometimes the in-house chef comes around with little samples of things. It’s kind of like being in someone’s home rather than being in a business environment.
You travel a lot to clients around the globe. How often can people find you at the atelier?
I try and do three days a week, and if I miss a day one week, I try and make it up the next week. But I generally travel once a week, sometimes twice a week. I enjoy it. I’m very fortunate in that I get to go to some incredible places. I go to Moscow quite a bit. I’m in India quite a lot and the Middle East.
What are your top hair care tips for looking good while traveling?
Simple is best when traveling. I always recommend a very simple blow dry for traveling and arrival at the hotel. Having a great brush while away can be a godsend. I love natural bristle brushes like Y.S. Park and always [have] a Tangle Teezer for easy, simple grooming.
You have a salon at Liberty, too. What sort of experience does that location offer?
I think it’s a different energy [to that at the Lansdowne Atelier]. Ed Burstell, the managing director of Liberty, came to us when we’d been open in Holland Park for a week and said, “We’d love for you to be the first-ever salon at Liberty.” And it was just too soon for us, so we said, “We’d love to but we really can’t think of it for about a year.” And Ed waited a year. For me, Liberty Atelier is like an incubator of talent: It would have been me, 10 or 15 years ago. We’ve got really creative, really funky young people being nurtured, that come on photo shoots with me or are doing shows, and it’s a slightly younger market. I work there one day [every two weeks]. I’ve got to be careful because whatever I earn in the salon I generally spend in menswear.
You’re one of the most respected British colorists around and are known for working with some high-profile individuals, such as Elle Macpherson, Kylie Minogue and David Bowie. What is it, would you say, that sets you apart from the crowd?
Experience goes a long way. The more diverse situations I work in, or extreme color changes I do, gives one the ability to not be afraid of taking those bold steps. I have to be constantly stimulated. I’m very fortunate working in an environment where I work with some of the most creative people in the world, whether it’s hair and makeup or clothes styling. I don’t make my clients look fashionable because most women don’t want that high-fashion hair statement, but they want to look like they’re ahead of the crowd. I’ve always had a very clear tone of voice — I don’t want to be a celebrity hairdresser. I’m not a celebrity hairdresser. I happen to work on some people that are famous. Discretion is the name of the game in my industry.
What hair color trends do you anticipate for spring and summer?
I created the color for the spring/summer Prada campaign. It’s about very bold, very expressive tones. For me, it’s not about going out and bleaching your hair or tinting it dark brown or red, but it is about making one color slightly bolder, slightly more purposeful. The look is very much super glossy, super groomed. It’s a color that’s not afraid of itself.
What’s next for your brand?
We are in talks with an amazing small hotel group to see if we could deliver a totally new concept in “hotel hair.” I’m so excited, but on that one we will have to wait.
Photos Courtesy of Atelier Beauté and Josh Wood