Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Legends London + a Giveaway!

Any readers of the blog with a Rain Man like memory (and stamina for wading through my musings) may recall that I once took the plunge and admitted to having a morbid fear of hairdressers and barbers.

It stems from a trip of young Stephen to the barber (known as whip it off Wilf) for what I thought would be a trim, instead Wilf, god rest his soul (no I didn’t kill him, he was old and it was 30 years ago so safe to assume) took his cue from my dad (no, I haven’t forgotten dad) and proceeded to shave my head. Imagine a peanut that has been in the sun for a week and you get the idea of what I looked like.

This fear has meant that trips for haircuts have been few and far between throughout my life. I once found the perfect stylist when working in Southwark, London – Trevor was the first hairdresser who could cut my hair to perfection but sadly he moved on, it was also expensive at the time circa 2005 at £40 for a wash and cut. Trevor’s departure resulted in very infrequent visits to my local barber shop for an acceptable cut at £10.

Out of nowhere I received an e-mail from The Legends, a traditional barbershop based in Holborn, London asking if I would like to try a cut and some of the treatments they offer. Their full contact details are below and directions can be found from their website

After considering the phobia I tentatively accepted and on Monday (30 June) I made the short walk from my office to the shop to see what they could do with the face and hair only a mother could love. Below is the arty shot taken before I stepped in (and after about the third cigarette smoked with shaking hands)!

So what do The Legends say about themselves?

‘The Legends Barber Shop carries you back to a time when taking care of the way you look was part of being a man.

With uncommonly friendly service and a passionate attention to detail, the trained professionals at The Legends Barber Shop are schooled both in the time-honoured traditions of barbering and shaving.

With skills firmly rooted in tradition, all of The Legends barbers will work hard to give you a haircut you can be proud of.

Our friendly and talented staff will hook you up with the latest styles as well as a fresh interpretation of the classics. From the traditional and short hair cuts, through to old-fashioned hot towels and a straightedge shave, to the head massage you enjoy when you are finished.

At The Legends Barber Shop, we bring you the nostalgia of yesteryear with a modern twist.’

The shop itself is traditional in nature, the window display of antique barber ware struck fear into me but it does look cool. There are chairs for waiting customers but what strikes you from the moment you walk in is the feeling of openness and light. It is really bright considering the narrow shop front and as you walk down towards the rear it really opens up to reveal a host of barber chairs, sinks and the coolest cash register ever.

The barbers, all dressed in white look the part (always check out the hair of a hairdresser is my motto) and as soon as I arrived and before they knew who I was they were attentive, noticed I was a bit warm and offered to take my suit jacket.

My barber was to be Darius, a cheerful looking chap - he looks 35 (claims to be older) with a well groomed beard and moustache. He looked the part and after a brief introduction I sat into the chair of doom. 

I had considered letting Darius loose on my hair with a brief of ‘do what you think would suit this face’ but decided I might be a tad upset if he placed a paper bag over my head. Instead I opted for the sides to be shaved with really short top that could be styled into a bed head look.

After washing my hair and trying to keep consciousness (chilled out as my head was massaged by one of Darius‘ glamorous assistants - they set to work). A promise was made, “by the time we’ve finished you’ll look 16 again”. A pretty impressive boast I thought. 

Normally when I get my hair cut they start by shaving the top - instead Darius trimmed away at the top and as I gasped at the sheer amount of grey hair falling into my lap we struck up conversation about blogging, how they had found my blog, the history of the shop and his ethos as a barber. 

As the cutting continued I was surprised given it’s location tucked away between Red Lion Square and Theobalds Road at the number of people popping in to book appointments, having their hair cut or just stopping by on the off chance of a cut. This isn’t a place that needs bigging up in any way I thought to myself. 

The haircut took around 40 minutes and we chatted away, my nerves put completely at ease. We moved on to talking about shaving, blades etc as the clippers came out and the sides were shaved down to the bone. 

It was a completely painless experience and actually incredibly relaxing - I could have happily closed my eyes and slept I was that relaxed and at ease. 

Readers will have to wait for the final look at the bottom as the haircut wasn’t the end of proceedings - oh no. What I will say here is that for the first time in 10 years, and for only the second time I have found a barber who makes my hair looks simply amazing, is easy to style and does actually make me look substantially younger. 

Darius is a barber, not a miracle worker but I’ve been surprised at work with the number of really positive comments on how it makes me look younger (had three of these), that I now look like Andy Coulson the disgraced spin doctor who used to work for David Cameron (seven of these and counting - Jane Bailey*) and two where people had to take a second look to realise it was me.

You can’t beat that!

Anyway, I digress - I’d always wanted to have a traditional shave using a cutthroat razor and this is on offer. After applying lotion that cleared my sinuses in seconds (a lovely mint/menthol) a warm towel was placed over my face for a few minutes. Again I had to resist the urge to sleep I was so relaxed.

After wiping off my face shaving cream was applied. My leg started to tremble - I was nervous as soon as I saw the blade. Darius, sensing this put me at ease with references to the size of his liability insurance and some good humoured banter. The shave was such a unique experience and the final results were one of the closest shaves I’ve ever had.

His hands were steady (bonus), he didn’t cut me (bonus) and when the phone rang and I jumped he didn’t slash my throat (bonus)

As I left I had the biggest smile on my face in a long time. My hair looked great, my face was so smooth and I felt like a new man.

There are pictures littered throughout this post about my experience and they show the magic that is The Legends and in particular Darius who is clearly a hair artiste with skills other barbers can only aspire to.

The shave was £22.50 and I will be having one again, probably as a treat now and again or if I’m going to a special event.

The full price list can be found on The Legends website here but at £18.50 for a wash and cut that is only just a touch more expensive for what I have been spending to be under whelmed by my local barber. You could add £20 onto the price and I would still pay it.

When they claim to give you uncommonly friendly service, passionate attention to detail and give you a haircut you can be proud of they are right on the money. Everything they claim to be is true and that is rare in this day and age. 

In summary:

Darius = Legend

The Legends = Legends

I normally have a kind of scale that I use ranging from ‘avoid at all costs’, ‘not recommended’, ‘recommended’ and ‘highly recommended’. In this case I have had to add a new one ‘forget the rest and go with the best’.

Forget the rest, go with the best

*names have not been changed to protect the very guilty


In addition to making my week, I also have some of The Legends products to giveaway to one lucky blog reader thanks to the generosity of the staff, the Rafflecopter widget is below.

For a chance to win:
  • 220ml tub of The Legends London Maximum Hold Hair Gel (another post on the way)
  • 40ml tube of travel sized The Legends London Maximum Hold Hair Gel
  • A pack of The Legends London Alum Matchsticks (used to mop up blood from nicks when shaving)

  • Sadly this giveaway is limited to residents of the United Kingdom (don’t worry; another giveaway for a global readers is not far away).  
  • If you are under 18 years of age, please ensure you have your parents permission to enter because I will need your address to post the prize.
  • All Entries will be checked
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