Yesterday evening I headed to Gentlemans Relish in Clerkenwell for some head and face topiary.
My hair was long, misshapen, permanently unruly and I’d not shaved for a few days, so this assignment was perfectly timed.
A brief run down of the company – Paul Jackson opened the company’s first salon in Colchester in 2007 and has been steadily expanding the business every year since. The Clerkenwell salon is the company’s second in London (the other is off Brick Lane), and they have ambitious growth plans, aiming for a solid 45-50 across the UK in the future.
The Clerkenwell outlet itself is classy as hell, the centrepieces being four perfectly restored 1950’s cream and red crocodile-leather chairs with heavy-duty foot rests. An intimate size and excellent online booking system means there’s no one impatiently thumbing dog-eared copies of GQ on the sofa either.
That said, a barbershop is only as good as the guy holding the scissors. Salon Manager and GR Managing Director Darren Agyei-Dua sat me down, and I ran through my normal style before deciding to just let him do what he liked.
He’s trained in pretty much everything there is to train in in terms of hair and grooming, and cut for numerous agencies including CLM, Caren and Jed Root. He even cut Robbie Williams’ hair at a Brit Awards Ceremony recently. Impressive stuff.
Darren was quick, precise and effortless with his cutting. He had consistently good chat as well, which really does make all the difference.
The shave was of matching quality. I had a Turkish shave in Istanbul last year and it was going swimmingly until they burnt my ears with a lighter. Darren assured me no ears would be burnt.
If you’ve never been shaved, have it done. It’s quite therapeutic. At Gentleman’s Relish you have your face washed, some ‘skin food’, a warm towel, badger brush applying the foam, straight razor taking it off and then a cool towel to close your pores. Your skin is left as smooth as the day you were born and feels fantastic.
It’s really not that expensive either – £25 for a cut and £15 for a shave, which is considerably more accessible than what Gentleman’s Relish’s previously charged.
The Clerkenwell salon is in a good location, boasts top-notch stylists and is hoping to add a masseuse to the mix by Christmas. They’re creating a new kind of barbershop for a new, style-conscious generation. I’m sold.
Guest post by Alex Clough
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