Nice hair, Bill, shame about the haircut . . .: Is President Clinton's new look a tonsorial disaster or a snip at dollars 200? Cal McCrystal roots out the opinion of the professionals

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A HAIRCUT, they say, is worth whatever it costs if it makes you feel right. To the untrained eye, dollars 200 (pounds 131) may seem a bit steep for a quick trim and blow-dry - even if you are President of the United States. But this, surely, cannot be just any old haircut? Surely the American taxpayer can take comfort in the thought that Christophe of Beverly Hills has come up with something pretty special?

Professional opinion is divided. Mr Andreas of Torry's in Knightsbridge, for example, charges pounds 17 for an ordinary wash-and-cut, but thinks Christophe's bill to Bill was 'reasonable'. He says the President's hair is 'beautiful, but I would like to look at it closer. I think he uses hair-cream because he has hard hair and needs something to control it'.

But fashion leaders are sniffy. 'He could have got exactly the same haircut for dollars 3 and a cup of coffee . . . Maybe he was depressed,' says the editor of Arena magazine, Kate Flett, adding, 'You wouldn't want a feather-cut or a centre parting, he is the President after all. But it could have been better.'

'To be honest, I don't know if it looks any better now than it did before. It's a real screw-up,' says Michael VerMeulen, editor of GQ.

Near Westminster, Leonard Martin of Leonards, having dismissed the Clinton cut as 'nothing out of the ordinary', observes that a curious thing had happened to his own political clients (pounds 11 a head). 'We have government ministers and Shadow ministers,' he says. 'Tory ministers are a scruffy lot. It used to be the Socialists who were scruffy, but now the Opposition members are much smarter.' Why might that be? 'Well, I dunno. The Tories are complacent. They've been in too long. They feel it doesn't matter what they look like.'

Plucking clients' names from their barbers is not easy. Perhaps this is a good thing, given the unfavourable publicity that followed President Clinton's trim - 'a comb and scissor job followed, I would guess, by a touch of the razor while the hair's still wet, to smooth it down,' says Peter Allan of Bush House Gentlemen's Hairdressing, who charges pounds 16 for similar treatment. Frank Warner, a director of Michaeljohn of Albemarle Street, thinks Clinton has 'a good head of hair - dishy-grey, I call it'. He counts Cabinet ministers among his customers, but declines to identify them. He is enamoured of Norman Lamont's head ('extremely well cut'), and thinks William Waldegrave has 'a beautiful head, but I don't particularly like his haircut'. Mr Warner, who charges pounds 45, itches to improve the image of public figures. 'I'd just love to get my hands on Michael Portillo's cowlick.' As for the Clinton cut: 'We too have a salon in Beverly Hills, where we charge dollars 75-dollars 80. When you consider the distance (Christophe) travelled and the fact he was conveniencing the President of the United States, dollars 200 doesn't seem outrageous.'

Unfortunately, some feel that the President's credibility may never recover. Andre Jose, a recent Vogue hairdresser of the year, runs two salons in central London which are patronised by the young and hip. 'It's very ordinary, it doesn't look finished properly, it didn't look very clean around the ears and the hairline looked scruffy. It's only on the way to a haircut.

'If he came in I would give him a G-man, you know - FBI type, a bit firmer. A number two at the back and layered all the way through the top, and quite a bit shorter.

'I would have done it for pounds 30. He got absolutely done, didn't he?'

(Photograph omitted)

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