Tried & Tested: Matthew Clulee hair salon, Oxford

Given the amount I have my hair bouffed and coiffed, it’s bizarre that I’ve tried out so few hairdressers in central Oxford, so it’s been with much pleasure and curiosity that my latest hair review is Matthew Clulee, who actually has two salons, a New York loft-style one in Ship Street, the other across the way in St Michael’s St.

My appointment was in Ship St, and shall we start by saying, nice use of the neon? This salon unashamedly hams up the urban with its clever lighting (which can change according to whim), exposed brickwork, funky music and of course it’s perfect central position directly off Cornmarket. So far, so right up my alley.

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The vibe is friendly so you shouldn’t feel intimidated coming in here, and in fact Matthew Clulee himself still cuts every Weds, Thurs and Friday and alternate Saturdays and he’s very jovial, full of stories and anecdotes that makes it very easy to sit and watch him work.

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But first the colour. I’m getting into stripy badger territory at the front of my hair (no, I’m not showing you, are you mad?) and the problem with dark hair like mine is that the regrowth shows immediately. I leapt over the receptionist like Jessica Ennis-Hill’s more talented sister to reach that consultation chair. Yeah go on, put that Olympic gong around my neck, and hand another one to my lovely colourist – she did a brilliant job on the Muddy barnet, restoring it to a better version of its original colour.

Turban-tastic!

Turban-tastic!

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My cut was courtesy of Mr Clulee, and though there wasn’t much to challenge his skills apart from how to give some thickness to my thin grandma hair, he snipped away with good grace.

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Main cut accomplished here with only a tiny bit off the length as I’ve been trying to grow it a bit, we’re discussing above the perenial question I ask myself and anyone else who can be bothered to listen, ‘Fringe or no fringe?’  Last time I had a fringe cut in, back in the Nineties, I looked like I was wearing a Lego helmet. The horror of that cut still chills me to the bone so yes *sigh*  I bottled it again.

Anyway, I was very happy with the end result – voila!

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What else to tell you before I sign off? Well, it’s  worth knowing that the Ship Street branch where I had my cut has a private suite for up to 8 for wedding parties and special guests – visiting celebs of course (though it would be *cough* indiscreet of me to say who) but also those who have had cancer or other illnesses where they feel self-conscious about their hair and want some privacy to have their hair cut or wigs fitted. That’s a great extra service don’t you think?

There’s also a make up team available at the salon for £35 or with London-based Natasha French by appointment, so if you’re going out in central Oxford, you can sort hair and make up in one fell swoop.

Prices are not too scary actually, particularly when you consider it’s in the middle of Oxford, a city not known for its value – for a cut it’s £38 for a stylist up to £59 for the artistic director (though admittedly if you want the man himself he charges a more sweaty £82. Semi-permanent colour is between £47-49.

One for your potential snip list.

1 & 2 St Michaels Mansions, Ship Street, Oxford, OX1 3DE. Tel: 01865 722400. matthewclulee.net

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