Making waves in St Tropez

Celebrity hairdresser CHARLES WORTHINGTON tells Penny McCormick why he loves his Riviera home

31 August 2012
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Celebrity hairdresser CHARLES WORTHINGTON tells Penny McCormick why he loves his Riviera home

“I LOVE the light in the south of France and I guess it’s why many artists gravitated towards it,” says Charles Worthington showing Connexion around his villa on the outskirts of St Tropez. “I’ve tried to enhance it in the interior design of my home by using a chalky, blotting paper white paint as a base and adding a lot of dimmer lights to create the right mood.”

Creating a look is something for which Charles Worthington is renowned and for which he has received every conceivable accolade within the hairdressing industry over the course of his 25-year career, including an MBE and twice being voted Hairdresser of the Year.

Yet he trained as an architect. “No training is ever wasted,” he said, “I look at the architecture of the face when creating a new hairstyle and believe in clear communication before I implement a new style.”

He used his architect’s eye when searching for his home. “I’ve always loved holidaying in the south of France and for over eight years I used to rent villas every summer. I always wanted to live abroad so I started looking for my own home many years ago. You have to be dedicated and to find perfection must be prepared to work hard.”

It took him three years to find his villa which synthesises the discreet glamour of his salons and his own warmth of character. “I fell in love the first time I saw it.

“Even though it was in a sad state and hadn’t been lived in for 10 years, it was muddy and overgrown and had a non-existent garden: it ticked all my boxes. Location, ambiance, surroundings and potential were the things that made up my mind I had found The One.

“I was able to ignore the mess and look beyond that to see the flow and space. I loved every element.”

The enviable view of Pampelonne beach was another selling point and Charles was fortunate to buy when the market had not, as he puts it, “gone ballistic. It was affordable and a real slice of heaven.”

Very hands-on when it came to the design and renovation, Charles has laid out his home in multiple social areas and in a chic mix of grey and white, full of sensual touches. He fills it with sunflowers, lavenders and agapanthus and his own signature home scent: “I use Cire Trudon candles – the Ernesto and Rio de Soleil three wick ones. They burn constantly and are packed full of fragrance. Luxury for me is about comfort and quality. I like to fill my home with fragrance and flowers and indulgent things.”

But little furniture: “I do believe you have to edit your belongings.”

Indulgence mixed with no small amount of expertise, is something that brings clients back time and again to his salons in London.

Charles first introduced the concept of cafetieres of coffee for customers and he has maintained this consistency of service by adding more and more special touches to his sparkly, bright salons. The Percy Street salon in London is his flagship and, like his home, is laid out on multiple levels with an airy vibe.

“I seem to have an intuitive approach to placement. The flow of my home is comfortable and easy and glam all at the same time. We love to have cocktails by the pool, perch on stools and sit admiring the view. My prime objective was not to create a show home but one which is warm and welcoming.”

As a committed Francophile, Charles says enthusiastically: “I love the French for their brusqueness, warmth and charm. They are very proud of their culture and rightly so.

“They may seem arrogant but have a lot to be proud of – their cuisine, architecture, flora and fauna and the landscape. I particularly love the culture of long, lazy lunches.”

Something of a cook himself, Charles is a regular at local markets and also loves to sample quieter restaurants. “I’ve been coming to St Tropez for over a decade and no longer need to go to the celebrity haunts – like Grand Joseph or the beach clubs. In fact the previous owner of my house must have been a cook too, as the kitchen is huge and has a fantastic view.

“During the Mistral we can see the snowcapped peaks of the Alps and on a clear day we can see as far as Cannes and Nice down the coast.”

It is no wonder, then, that Charles spends so much time in France – five months every year from May to October, when he can indulge his love of water skiing, cycling, tennis, walking and photography.

Not only a holiday home, it transforms to an office and he regularly has team meetings here for management and staff. He admits to planning up 12 months ahead and is a firm believer in time management.

Celebrating 25 years in the business in 2012, he is honest about his career progression. “Initially I didn’t have a vision, but I believe my career has unfolded naturally. It changed as it went along. At the start I just wanted to break even when I opened my first salon.

“Then I added more salons.

“When the formula kept working I tried something else and created my product line [which includes his best-selling Dream Hair and Big Bounce ranges].

“I was inspired to do this by aesthetics. I looked at my bathroom shelf and thought there were no nice shampoos which performed, smelled and looked good all at the same time. So I was particularly proud of my product range which has kept growing.”

Aside from developing more new products, Charles is coy about future plans, but he does have a clear idea of the trends we can expect in the future.

“Hair is the ultimate fashion statement. It should reflect your personality and say who you are.

“Long, expensive hair is very now. For 2012 I predict that the shaggy, loose styles of recent years will be replaced by polished and glamorous looks. It’s a reflection of the economy and also a tightening up of life in general. Being too casual can bring you down.

“I think fringes will be a big story as will sharp cuts and styles.”

As for cultural differences, Charles observes that “different countries have different looks and these are influenced by the celebrities of that country. The French in general are very well groomed and are quite brave with colour – particularly their use of reds and coppers.

“The US is all high maintenance hair while the UK is much more radical. I think hairdressers can have the most fun in the UK as there are not the same parameters.”

While he has worked with a host of actresses, models and icons from Vanessa Redgrave to Sharon Stone he is not particularly star struck. “We’re all the same, but do different jobs. Celebrities need me to create their look – hairdressers are an integral part of their success.”

Charles has worked hard for success and the fruit of that labour is in his portfolio of homes. He has a house in Chelsea and one in Kent too. “All of my homes reflect their surroundings and a different décor style and I’ve been able to live out my design fantasies in them.

“Chelsea is minimalist, eclectic and buzzy; Kent is tranquil, cosy and reflects the countryside around it. My home in France is all about sunshine, blue skies and glamour!”

Charles Worthington’s tips for Dream Hair

* Find the correct salon. Always book a first consultation to get an indication of what to expect from your hairdresser and the service.

* Invest in a good hair cut; above all one that suits your face, hair texture and lifestyle.

* Ensure you are using the right regime of hair products from good shampoo to the correct styling products.

* For shiny, lustrous hair you need the right tools: invest in the correct hairbrush.

* Use a shine spray as a finishing touch for a professional, cosmetically enhanced shine.

* Have a lesson in styling your hair – it can be invaluable.

* Eat a healthy and balanced diet as this shows in your hair and nails. Taking Vitamin E and Vitamin B supplements also helps

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