Kate hair, doesn’t matter.
I’ve been following the royal family since I was a little girl, but it wasn’t until Kate Middleton came on the scene that palace-worthy hair became a bit of an obsession.
I analyzed photos and videos of her bouncy hair dryer after her engagement to Prince William, wondering how I could make my thick, unruly locks work together in the same way.
Every time I went to a special event I tried to give myself that signature “Kate Middleton blowout” but ended up being disappointed when it didn’t look duchess enough.
And on the occasions when I had it professionally done, it was perfect – until later I tried to recreate the look myself.
In my quest for a Middleton-esque mane, I’ve tried curling irons, rollers, that weird “Euphoria” headband thing you wrap your hair around (spoiler alert: it didn’t work)… you name it.
Enter Richard Ward Hair & Metrospa.
Kate not only gets her hair done at the salon, but also her siblings Pippa and James, as well as their mother, Carole. Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie, also entrusts her strands to the Richard Ward team, along with Greek royals such as Princess Marie Chantal.
In addition to royalties, the London salon has drummed up stars like Kim Cattrall, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Simon Le Bon and Elizabeth Hurley (and of course half the cast of ‘Made in Chelsea’).
Needless to say, I knew my hair was in good hands when I booked an appointment on my recent trip to London for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Tucked away in chic, leafy Duke of York Square, the famous salon is easy to miss – but that’s probably a plus for its celebrity clients.
What surprised me was how unsociable it was inside. Everyone was incredibly warm and friendly, and the facilities are bright and modern.
I was greeted by the wonderful Tommy Cracknell, one of the salon’s creative directors, who was in charge of my cut and blowout.
Of course the royals rely on discretion, so I couldn’t ask much about the Duchess’ personal life. But I was very happy to learn that she doesn’t get any special treatment when she comes in for a grooming.
“So Kate and the other royals just sit here when they get their hair done, or do they go in the back somewhere?” I asked, wondering if there was some sort of private room for VIPs in the back of the crowded building.
Cracknell looked puzzled at the question. “Oh no no. They’re just sitting here,” he replied. “I think they prefer it.”
Because my hair is so heavy, Cracknell told me he wanted to create movement by not cutting it straight across the back.
Once a plan was made, it was off to the (massage!) shampoo chairs, where I received an incredible scalp and neck massage, while senior nail technician Vita Hohfelde began filing my nails there in preparation for a gel manicure.
Did I mention they also have a full bar and food menu?
Back in Cracknell’s capable hands, my hair was trimmed a few inches and the stylist set to work on the perfect “old-school Kate Middleton blowout” I told him I hoped to achieve — while Hohfelde did my nails. and I sipped peppermint tea.
It turns out that the secret I’ve been missing all along lies in the humble Velcro roller.
“You’ve got just the hair for this,” Cracknell said, wrapping my locks around the Velcro rollers enough to fill the Queen’s carriage.
“At home it’s hard to do this yourself, but just apply the heat directly to the rollers while they’re still in there,” he explained, steering the blow dryer in their direction. “And make sure you let them in for a while. Get ready, do your makeup, keep them in while you get dressed.
Soon my sparkly blue mani and bouncy outburst were complete, and I couldn’t stop staring at my new swisy “repliKate” hair.
The best part? It took me all week to be in London, from being crushed by the Trooping to Color crowds to cheering the horses on at the Epsom Derby – and absolutely without hairspray or other products.
The only disadvantage? Now every time I get my hair cut I want to cross an ocean.