How did a working-class lad from Teesside, once destined to work in the shipyards, become one of the world’s top hairdressers and then go on to establish the award-winning Q Hair and Beauty in Chichester, one of the leading salons on the South Coast?
Anthony Barnes-Smith, who was born and raised in Sunderland and started his career in hairdressing in Newcastle’s then-notorious Pink Lane, was one of the leading stylists in London during the Swinging Sixties, the decade which revolutionized hairdressing. Regarded as the "boy wonder" of British stylists, he turned hairdressing into a fine art, won a whole host of top national and international competitions, was a member of the British team in the Hairdressing World Cup and rubbed shoulders with the great and the good of the fiercely-competitive industry.
In his newly-published book, Bobs, Beehives and Bouffants, Anthony, who is celebrating his 42nd year in the hairdressing industry and is still in demand with his large and distinguished clientele, lifts the lid on the intense rivalry and internal politics which eventually saw him turn his back on the competition scene.
Always a bit of a rebel, the story begins with his colorful childhood in Sunderland, his determination not to be condemned to a life in the shipyards and the decision to become a hairdresser which horrified his father. It continues with his early days at a salon in Newcastle, at a time when shampoos and sets were first being replaced by blow-drys, and his teenage romance with a girl singer who later became famous as Elkie Brooks.
The book moves on to his phenomenal success in competitions which took him all over the globe, the beautiful women who came and went in his life and his eventual decision to walk away from the fame and take the brave step of opening his own business in Sussex with virtually nothing in the way of capital behind him.
It was a struggle at first, with Anthony working incredibly long hours and saving every penny to achieve his ambition of owning the best hair salon on the South Coast.
His tremendous talents, inimitable sense of style and desire for perfection proved the key to success and his luxurious Q Hair and Beauty salon in Chichester, now in its 26th year, is renowned as the place to go for the very best in hairdressing. Clients have included many stars of stage and screen.
It wasn’t all plain sailing, of course, and at one stage Anthony was devastated by a personal tragedy and also had to cope with a disastrous blaze which ripped through the beautiful old building in which Q is housed. But he pushed through and continues to be looked upon as an inspirational leading light in the hairdressing world, with the home-grown talent he has developed at Q regarded as among the best in Britain.
In Bobs, Beehives and Bouffants, Anthony tells it all without pulling any punches. It is sure to ruffle a few feathers in the hairdressing industry and in the genteel city of Chichester, with plenty of people wondering if they feature in the tale.
Bobs, Beehives and Bouffants will be released October 3, 2014. Pre-order www.qhairandbeauty.co.uk/shop
[Image courtesy of Pickle PR]