Barron at 50: Veteran Muswell Hill hairdresser who styled Alvin Stardust and Michael McIntyre celebrates half a century
PUBLISHED: 15:39 30 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:11 04 October 2019
A Muswell Hill hairdresser who counts singers, comedians and nudists among his clients is celebrating half a century in the business – a decade after a close shave on a mountain hike nearly cost him everything.
David Barron, 70, set up his first shop in 1969 in Crouch End's Middle Lane. One Step Ahead was named in honour of the moon landing that summer, and painted black in tribute to Mick Jagger.
Six years later, he opened the eponymous Barron in Muswell Hill Broadway, where he still works. "We were the first people doing unisex haircutting in north London," he told the Ham&High this week.
David's awards include the MPA (Master Photographers Association) London Fashion Photographer of the Year award, British Hairdressing Business Award, Wella Vogue Award and L'Oréal ColourTrophy. In 2000 he won Men's British Hairdresser of the Year. His work has been featured in national magazines and newspapers.
David followed his father Morris into the trade. When Morris died, David - then 12 - left school to pursue an apprenticeship at a men's barber shop, eventually training at Vidal Sassoon's salon.
Since then his clients have included League of Gentlemen star Steve Pemberton, comic Michael McIntyre, and 1970s rock star Alvin Stardust.
In the 1980s, he set up a firm called Inter Salon Photography with President of BIPP Ken Bray.
He said: "My idea was to introduce photography into a hair salon. People would get their hair done and feel fantastic. This became their private place and I would capture them when they felt great.
"Then when they left they would have something tangible - a photo of them with their hair looking great and they were feeling their best.
"We set up a school training laymen and anyone in the corporate world who was fed up of their careers to become affiliates of ISP as photographers.
"But unfortunately this didn't work because what I discovered was that in order to get the results that I wanted it was more than just understanding the technical stuff. It was about connecting with the models. With me in the studio it's like telepathy.
"The people I was training couldn't see what I could see. It's about capturing the essence of somebody. That was missing and I couldn't teach that in a week or two."
One of David's more memorable moments was on a trip to the French Riviera in 1979.
"We set up shop at a nudist beach in Saint-Tropez," he said. "Women were coming out the sea and we were cutting their hair off."
But David's career nearly all ended in tragedy.
"Eleven years ago I went on an activity weekend in Slovenia," he said. "We were doing mountaineering and on the second day we were hiking up a mountain and the group was much younger than me and went ahead.
"I fell over 30 metres off the face of the mountain. I was airlifted to hospital. I broke my neck and was plastered head to toe like a mummy.
"Last year marked 10 years since the accident. I thought: I am so lucky, life is so rich, I love my job, I've got all my hair and I've got a great family. I'm so blessed.
"I should've died on that mountain. What were the chances of surviving it?"
Of his famous clients, he added: "My philosophy is that they're just like everyone else. To me, everyone is a celebrity. I don't refer to them as celebrities, I refer to them as well known people."
He doesn't plan to retire any time soon. "I'm looking forward to celebrating the next 50 years," he said. "I'll work for as long as I can.
"We don't just cut hair. We're the facilitators of connecting with people. It's more like therapy."
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Ham&High. Click the link in the orange box above for details.