Jackie Fletcher opened The Parlour after having a painful customer experience at a well-known hairdressing chain: ‘I asked for a trim and got a bob. I was offered a glass of wine that tasted like vinegar. The staff were cold and had clearly had an argument. To cap it all, I was slapped with a big bill for one of the worst experiences of my life.’
Knowing she could do better, Jackie studied the competition and realised that what she ideally wanted didn’t exist. So she decided to create it—and The Parlour was born. This fun, colourful, eccentric emporium has been bringing joy to the denizens of Chiswick (and far beyond) for the past three years.
Sticking out like a lump of bright seaside rock amid the taupe, understated chic of Devonshire Road off Chiswick High Road, The Parlour bills itself as a boutique blow-dry and bohemian braid bar and an alternative take on girly afternoon tea. From the moment you enter—passing a white peacock and pink hairdryer suspended in the window—and are hit with a blast of 1950s rock ’n’ roll, you feel that here is a fun time just waiting to be had.
My stylist, Naureena, greeted me and stationed me in front of a mirror, decorated with Polaroids of happy hair models and Lady-Gaga-style poker faces. I was having a root tint and cut, and a blow dry. The salon requires new customers to take a skin sensitivity test 48 hours before hair colour is applied. As I didn’t have time for this, I signed a waiver. Naureena and I discussed colour to hide my greying roots and blend with my reddish brown hair: I’d love to go auburn, but as I was off to Goa we decided to wait til I was back for a colour change (ie, after the Indian sun had done its worst). She suggested a mix of light brown and red/golden tones.
I was just having a tidy up rather than a restyle, and Naureena agreed to keep my hair as long as reasonably possible. As she clearly knew what she was talking about, I put my trust in her. She mixed the colours—by the Italian hairdressing company Milk Shake, a range with minimal chemicals—and had it applied to my roots in no time; I was relieved it didn’t sting or cause a reaction (I’ve got a super-sensitive scalp).
While I waited for the colour to take, I was offered cake and bubbly, but had to decline both (cursing my sugar intolerance) and settled for tea, which was served in a pillar-box-red teapot on a Cath Kidston tray. I relaxed with the salon’s Look Book, which shows off some of The Parlour’s specialties—braided hair looks, vintage styling and boho updos. I also took in the shabby-chic decor, with walls covered in peacocks and giant slogans like ‘Have a Lovely Hair Day’ and ‘Oooh la la…’. The colours are Miami nice: flamingo pink, vanilla ice cream and turquoise. It is the polar opposite of slick minimalism and cold, shiny surfaces. There’s such a relaxed, friendly can-do cheer to the place, you really don’t mind that the loo badly needs redecorating and the boiler is on show.
Naureena washed out the colour, then did the tidying-up cut, keeping her promise to cut off as little as possible. She finished off with an expert blow-dry—using Milk Shake Incredible Milk Leave-in Treatment for all hair types to add moisture, and a styling product called Caviar, which is free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, gluten-free, and never tested on animals.
It’s worth noting that as well as the usual range of hair treatments and services, The Parlour also offers ‘How to’ workshops: one-on-one classes such as how to blow-dry your own hair like a pro, master vintage styling, or create a selection of boho updos. Home visits and out-of-hours appointments are available by special arrangement.
I loved what Naureena did for me and could have hugged her. The colour was very natural-looking and suited my skin tone, and the blow-dry created a flattering, face-enhancing effect. Naureena took a photo of my hair from behind and it looked like a shot of a Hollywood star’s hair: slick, glossy and glamorous.
I doubly appreciated the sleek, blow-dried result as I’m hopeless with a hairdryer myself (I could do with their pro blow-drying workshop), and outside of hair appointments live with a permanent frizzy halo around my hair outline. This was as much of a treat as any very good salon experience—with the bonus of The Parlour’s fun and humour, which had me skipping off into the night with a smile on my face.