I was recently given the arduous task of heading to the heart of Chelsea for a pampering session, as arranged by the marketing team at Art & Music magazine. I promptly dusted off my gold handbag, polished my designer shades and sashayed out west – on the number 19 bus. Hot on the heels of the devastating news of the cancellation of Made in Chelsea, this was a chance to console myself by living like a Sloane for the day, and to hopefully emerge looking absolutely fabulous darling.
After a whistle stop tour of the Saatchi galleries current exhibition – Pangaea II: New Art from Africa and Latin America I crossed Sloane square to Nyumba and the welcoming embrace of husband and wife team Michael and Giulia Charalambous.
Continuing with the African theme, I opened the large glass doors of the hairdressers, and entered an exotic paradise. Michael is Tanzanian and has decorated his large salon with artworks sourced directly from Africa. A large chandelier (designed by Michael) made from ostrich eggs and African shells hangs over the reception desk, colourful stuffed chicken perch on the ceiling racks and sculptures of elegant old men peek from corners.
Nyumba is Swahili for ‘home’ and the salon certainly has a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. I was taken to my seat where the lady next to me was eating a beautifully prepared salad while having her hair done, guests were mingling in the cosy seating alcove, while staff were buzzing attentively around their clientele.
I was told to ensure that I get Michael himself to cut my hair as he is an ‘amazing character’ and reputably one of the best stylists in the west. He managed to squeeze me into his crazy schedule, after Kirsten Scott Thomas (in town for her West End show An Audience), and before a trip abroad to do the styling for a (hush, hush) royal wedding. This is a man in great demand, and I felt privileged to have even a minute of his time for a short interview, let alone having him cut and style my hair.
I was given a much needed cup of tea and then the real pampering began – a painted red manicure, an eyebrow tint (watch out Cara Delevingne), and reflexology, all while Michael regaled me with fascinating stories from his 30 years in the industry. Who hasn’t this man styled? I was seated between an ambassador and a princess, and was introduced to a dazzling number of beautiful people coming and going. I love a name drop – who doesn’t let’s be honest – but alas I was sworn to secrecy. There was no bitchiness as he obviously adores his clients and has a special relationship with them, thus they all come back for more. Michael tells me, honesty is his policy to garner clients and ensure loyalty. He is by his own admission a ‘people watcher’ and pays attention to how his clients move, their face shapes, their personal tastes and then works with them to create an enduring look.
Ever wondered what the secret is behind Yasmin le Bon’s ever-youthful skin? It simply refuses to age, doesn’t it? Or have you ever thought about what lies beneath Olivia Palermo’s perfectly flawless, dewy complexion? One name: Fere Parangi at Fere & Hasti, mother and daughter duo. Fere is renowned for her bespoke non-invasive facials, tailor made and adapted to the needs of each and every client.
After the cut I was gently ushered downstairs to the dimly lit sanctuary of Fere and Hasti’s treatment room. In the corner of the room was a large collection of futuristic gadgets and machines with twinkling lights. Offered a choice of intriguing treatments, I opted for the Oxygen facial. I was laid down and exfoliated, moisturised and rejuvenated. Tiny jets of oxygen were pumped into my skin, apparently plumping and firming. A treatment mask was placed over my face, while an oxygen mask covered my nose and mouth and gentle aromatic scents wafted out infusing my senses. I looked like an extra from a cult French sci fi movie – but it was very therapeutic. All my worries and stresses were literally blown away.
I left Sloane Square looking and feeling like a million dollars – or should I say Euros. I donned my shades, and jumped back on the number 19 my ab fab afternoon was over so all that remains is the rumoured reunion of Patsy and Edina on the big screen for my next west London fix.
Thank you to Michael, his wonderful wife Giulia (Artistic Colour Director), Filiz, Fere (Beautician), Sanita (Manicurist), Danuta (Reflexology) and the rest of the Nyumba team.