In my pursuit of all things local to Asheville (or wherever I am at a given moment), I’ve been lucky to unearth a real treasure for hair extraordinaire. Meet Raymond Annen, better known as Raymond of London.
Raymond is truly a king of color and coiffure; he learned his craft back in the day when hairdressers had to understand chemistry as well as cuts. With Raymond of London at your service, your hair looks completely natural–and completely better than natural ever could look, if you know what I mean.
Still using his aunt’s special scissors (she introduced him to the business almost 50 years ago), Raymond creates easy-to-keep cuts that frame faces. Though now modestly ensconsed in The Gatehouse Salon (Gene Lyda, proprietor) on Charlotte Street, his skills speak of decades of experience with heads of other states (and even a nation or two).
Following a long stint as a Clairol man (specializing in color, of course, throughout a territory the size of Texas), Raymond was offered and accepted the top job with Herrod’s Salon in London. He moved his family to England and started making a name for himself among some of the most famous pates in the world, including Peter Sellers, Ethel Merman, and Vincent Price. In 1969, he styled Lulu’s hair before she appeared in Britain’s Eurovision Song Contest* while then-husband Maurice Gibb (one third of the Bee-Gees, along with twin brother Robin and big brother Barry) sat in the waiting room.
These days, lucky Ashevillains-in-the-know are guaranteed a rare hair experience when they don a plastic smock and ascend to the heights of Raymond’s chair. It’s not just a hirsute pursuit, either; any topic is fair game, from politics and religion (trust me–Raymond has an opinion on everything and he doesn’t pull many punches) to hair color trends, local news, and his latest finds in antiques and ephemera. He’s more than a stylist; Raymond is an arbiter of style, and you’ll find your head turning heads all around town.
*The Eurovision Song Contest was comparable to today’s American Idol; singers performed each week and the winners were chosen by fans voting via postcard. Lulu is best known in this country for the theme from “To Sir, With Love,” in which she also had a role alongside star Sydney Poitier.