Almost 11 years ago, when Anushka Lakhani lived in New York, she saw a sudden spurt in specialty salons. “With these [salons] you know exactly what to expect,” says the 31-year-old behind London’s new aer Blowdry Bar, on Old Brompton Road. Lakhani, who has an MBA from Harvard, is by her own confession a beauty nerd. She’s also worked with L'Oréal (New York) for three years, between 2007 and 2010.
She's left little or no room for misses at her salon, since the menu is tightly edited, and the staff has at least seven to eight years of experience. “We have a lookbook-style inspiration board, so you can walk in and choose a style you like. Big bouncy waves, or curls…we’re creating a bespoke experience,” she elaborates.
Lakhani is going for “affordable luxury” (at £35 a pop; they don’t charge by length like most salons) and the ambience and menu suggest as much. The décor is informal, “shabby-chic” and café-inspired, with shared tables/stations. There’s little details you can’t miss – like when you tilt your head back for a wash you stare into the skylight, as opposed to a dark ceiling. (“Most wash areas are typically at the back of the salons and usually very dark, we didn’t want that,” Lakhani explains.)
While most salons pride themselves on express 30-minute services, aer offers 45-minute services. “We have allowed time for hair to set, otherwise you find your hair messed up soon after you leave, and those blow-dries rarely last,” says Lakhani.
Ultimately, she hopes she’s built the kind of space that encourages you to pop in with friends on a weekend – or even before an important Monday meeting – enjoy a Prosecco (on the house!) or a cup of coffee, and feel pampered.