Barnsley lad proves a cut above as A-list hairdresser

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SPELT out in crisp white lettering, above the doors of a hairdressing salon in London’s Covent Garden, is the name Andrew Barton.

It’s a sure sign of the success of the self-proclaimed working-class “grafter” from Barnsley, who started out at an apprentice in his local salon and worked his way to the top of the hyper-competitive world of hairdressing.

During the course of a star-studded career, Mr Barton has styled the hair of A-listers such as Tom Cruise and Juliette Lewis, as well as supermodels including Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson.

But despite getting his hands on such well-known scalps, he is still perhaps best known for being the celebrity hairdresser on the Channel Four programme “10 Years Younger.”

“I do have to pinch myself a lot”, said Mr Barton, who now splits his time between London and a villa in southern Spain.

“Little did I ever, ever, anticipate when I worked in Barnsley that one day I would have my own salon in Covent Garden.”

Born in 1967, Mr Barton was adopted as a baby and grew up in the village of Royston, north of Barnsley.

His parents, Anne and Alan, adopted another little boy a year later and then went on to have their own child, a daughter.

Despite being spread around the world, with Mr Barton’s brother remaining in Barnsley to work as a car salesman and his sister moving to Australia with her family, the siblings remain close.

Mr Barton said: “We lost mum last year with cancer. We lost our dad when we were quite young – I was only 15 when he died. Mum brought us up ever since then.

“It was before the miners’ strike, when Royston was still a very typical northern working-class village and very traditional Yorkshire. It had the butchers, the bakers, the florist, but a lot of those things have now gone.

“It’s sad that it’s changed so much. A lot of those villages now make me feel said because they’re ghosts of their former selves.”

He added: “When I was young, I was always fascinated by fashion and design. Art was really the only subject I did any good in at school. I was bullied and teased a bit, I guess for being a bit different to the norm.”

After leaving Royston Comprehensive School, he went on to study fashion at Barnsley Art College.

Mr Barton said: “I never dreamt of becoming a hairdresser, so I started studying fashion.

“But the working-class lad in me soon had enough of studying and I wanted to earn my own money. One thing my parents impressed upon me was a work ethic.

“I delivered papers, I worked for a local butcher delivering meat and I worked in Littlewoods on a Saturday, cleaning up.

“Although I was enjoying college, I wanted to get out and earn a living and get on a bit quicker in life.

“I drifted into hairdressing, really, as originally I thought I might become a fashion designer.

“I was very aware of my own hair and used to like having it cut and styled, but I wasn’t thinking about that as a career.

“I scored an apprenticeship with a really good salon in Barnsley and quickly realised hairdressing was about fashion and design – not just standing behind a chair in some kind of sweaty Betty style.

“The salon is now called Moody’s, but was called Denise’s at the time. Denise Moody ran it, and it’s still there but is now run by her son. “It was known as one of the most quality salons around.”

But, despite enjoying his apprenticeship, soon he thought his world needed to be a “bigger place.”

“I needed to know a little more than a working-class town like Barnsley, so I spend some time working in the States and in Australia”, Mr Barton said.

“I was only 19 then, but I learned a lot more about the world and what women want from their hair.

“The nice thing about my industry, unlike a lot of other industries, is that British hairdressing is known as the best in the world.

“That meant that some of the best things in my career weren’t going to happen in Australia. I moved back to London about 18 years ago and have been there ever since.

“London is full of great opportunities. Being a city with a big population there were lots of opportunities to start working with fashion designers, magazines and the media, which really helped me to grow contacts.”

It was then that Mr Barton’s career began to soar. In 1995 he did his first job for Vogue, and from there it was a heady ride to the top.

“I had to style Yasmin Le Bon’s hair”, he said. “I was beyond myself with excitement. Not only was it Vogue, but it was Yasmin Le Bon.

“What’s always helped me around celebrities, though, is my northern roots. I take people for who they are and say it how it is.

“Over the years I’ve worked with pretty much all the A-list models. I’ve also worked with Hollywood actors, and I was Robbie Williams’ personal hairdreser for many years.”

After spending the majority of his career working for large hairdressing companies, becoming creative director at both Saks and Toni and Guy, Mr Barton decided it was time to go his own way.

“Things were changing pretty fast”, he said. I was the hairdresser on 10 Years Younger and the Andrew Barton name was growing.

“Not having my own salon felt like a celebrity chef not having his own restaurant. I decided it was time I put my money where my mouth was and opened my own place.”

Last week, Mr Barton’s salon at Covent Garden was named by the magazine Your Hair as the best salon in the country – giving him another award to add to several he’s notched up over the years.

“I do have to pinch myself a lot, but I think as I’m getting older I’m getting that appreciation of my roots, my past and my humble beginnings”, he said.

“I have my own haircare range, exclusive to Asda, and to walk into the supermarket and see my own name on products in the aisles is phenomenal.

“But I hope that people who know me know that I’m still a really down-to-earth Barnsley lad at heart.

“I’ve lived away from Barnsley longer than I actually lived there, but I’ve never lost my Yorkshire accent and nor do I want to.”

The secret of success, Mr Barton said, is “never to accept ‘okay’ as a standard.”

He said: “Even after 30 years of doing hair, there’s nothing like that smile on a woman’s face when I’ve done her hair.

“I think of myself almost as the Armani of hair – every hair I touch is a bespoke design. I have to look at that person’s face shape and design something unique to them.

“It’s about being honest and saying ‘that makes you look fat’ or ‘that can add two inches to your height’.”

Ultimately, the one thing that remains on the hairdresser’s to-do list is to bring his own brand of designer hairstyling home.

He said: “It’d be great to come back to my roots and bring a salon up north.

“That’s what I really want to do one day.”