Going for the chop
Cutting all your hair off is a serious business, especially when it can affect your livelihood. But that is the decision 21-year-old model Liza License made one Friday morning at Andrew Jose's salon in London's Charlotte Street. While at Select her hair went from a short crop to the long straight hair you can see in the "before" picture.

While long hair is potentially very versatile, it can also become boring, as Liza readily agrees. "All I ever seemed to do with it was tie it back into a ponytail or wear it down." Andrew Jose has cut Liza's hair before, three years ago at the very start of her career when he did a transformational crop. This is why Liza is coming to him today. She wants and needs a change, and hopes the new cut will give her more scope as a model.

Liza is half Indian - she has tawny skin, bright blue eyes, and the kind of cheekbones some women would go under the knife to achieve. Andrew and Liza have discussed the "do", and think they will go for a pixie-like crop to accentuate the shape of her jaw, reveal her neck and give her cheekbones a lift.

Andrew Jose is not a traditional hairdresser. He specialises in a method of cutting that is far from the technical scissors-over-comb and straight lines some of his contemporaries employ. He says, "I work around the head in circles rather than geometrically." Although he is equally adept at technical cutting, he prefers to work with the hair slowly, seeing how it reacts to being cut, the way it falls, its texture, and its weight. With Liza's hair the first thing he did was take off the length, in one swoop.

For women with long hair, their tresses can be a symbol of their sexuality. Having shorter hair is often something they will think about, but never do, because in their mind it will compromise their femininity. Liza is aware of this, and admits to being apprehensive about having short hair. "The last time I had really short hair I felt quite masculine," she says. "I felt that I had to wear make-up and a dress or skirt to look like a girl, but now I realise I was just being paranoid."

Some of the world's sexiest women have short hair, and look better with it. Can you imagine Jamie Lee Curtis, Dolores O'Riordan (The Cranberries), Isabella Rossellini, Linda Evangelista or the Princess of Wales with long hair? This is what I tell Liza as she quietly mutters, "There's no turning back now."

Andrew snips away, a bit here, a bit there. The hair dries and he explains, "hair expands as it dries. Long hair is straight and smooth. The shorter it gets the more texture it has, and the more I can give it." At this point in the cut Andrew stands back to survey the scene. Liza already looks transformed. Her look is suddenly contemporary - womanly, but with an edge. Andrew homes in on a few bits of hair, ferociously snipping, stopping, then darting around looking at it from all angles. He announces: "I'm not going to crop it all off, I am going to keep the bits at the back to frame Liza's face." He continues: "You can't cut hair by fashion, you have to cut by the way your client is, and make the most of their beauty."

The finished cut is what you see here. It is slightly confrontational, but with a dab of gel and a spritz of spray it can be neat. Liza likes it. "I feel lighter, younger and trendier. It's great. Even though I was a bit worried about it at first, now I would recommend it as a truly liberating experience."

Andrew Jose, 1 Charlotte Street, London W1; 0171 323-4679. Cuts cost pounds 25 to pounds 75.