After winning a Commonwealth bronze in Glasgow last month, Ponds Forge-based diver and fitness trainer Nick Robinson-Baker was walking tall.
He’s positively strutting after a Business Monthly makeover, which he was nominated for by one of his clients.
City light-heavyweight boxer Lee Duncan nominated the Team GB 3m synchronised diver and double Olympic athlete, who is now his personal fitness trainer, to up the sportsman’s image away from the pool.
“Nick has over ten years of world class competition experience and has given me extensive training and advice on nutrition, which has really helped my performance,” said Lee, 26.
“Most people see him in swimming trunks or tracksuit and I wanted them to see that away from his sport, he can be stylish and well-groomed.” But, added Lee: “As his time is always limited he would need advice on how to achieve the well-groomed look very swiftly.”
Who better to hand Nick’s image over to than a traditional barber shop? Carrying out exacting cuts in the swiftest time is what barbers are all about.
But Savill’s, on Devonshire Street, is taking the old skills to a new level. It is an homage to the past, a Godfather-esque epic, with Tiffany-style lighting, polished wood panelling, vintage barbers’ chairs and enamelled sinks.
Its creator is Sheffielder Joth Davies, whose 26 years in hairdressing has taken him to London and back. He set up Savill’s on Chapel Walk in 2009 and opened the second on Devonshire Green, now the sole outlet, in 2010.
He is one of a team of 12 apron, shirt and tie-clad barbers offering traditional cut-throat wet shaves and ‘old school’ haircuts. Period styles from the Forties and Fifties are a speciality, so much so that Joth is often called on to cut the hair of actors appearing at the Crucible and Lyceum.
“Barbershops went out of fashion when the Beatles introduced longer hair. Men started to go to unisex salons. But those sharp, ultra-smart short cuts are back and the best place to go for one is a barber, whose cuts are incredibly precise; one slip of the clippers and it really shows up,” said Joth.
“Nick came to us straight from the pool, in flip-flops and tracksuit, with fluffy, unruly curls. After discussing his lifestyle, we found out that away from sport, he is a fashionable guy, so we gave him an ultra-sharp retro cut that he would be able to maintain - that’s really important to us. We spend a lot of time teaching customers how to achieve for themselves the look they walk out of our barbershop with.
“We treated Nick to a 45-minute wet shave, which involved steaming the face under hot towels, a face and head massage and the closest of shaves thanks to a cut-throat razor.
“Then I razor-faded the sides of his hair with a cut-throat and blended it into the top section with clippers, leaving it long enough for the curls to be pulled straight with one of our favourite products, a Ruezel pomade from Holland.”
There was more styling in store for Nick, though. To enhance its reputation for sharp vintage styling, the salon has linked with London designer John Lancaster, whose Mono label is worn by celebrities, to bring Savile Row tailoring to Savills.
Champions by Savills is a 15 piece capsule collection of two and three piece, ready-to-wear suits, inspired by “Gentleman Jim” Corbett, the American World Heavyweight Champion boxer and style icon, and cut from the finest Yorkshire and Donegal wools. There’s to be a ready-to-wear range and a personal tailoring service with John Lancaster two days a month.
“It’s the perfect fit all round,” said Joth, “And a Champions three-piece suited Nick’s new look to a tee.”
“I got back from the Commonwealth Games with my bronze medal feeling tired and very happy. Finding out just days later that a client had nominated me for a makeover was brilliant,” said Nick, 27.
“It couldn’t have come at a better time. I was ready for a bit of pampering. Having a full weet shave with a Sweeney Todd-style cut-throat razor was actually really relaxing. And my hair was desperately in need of a cut! After years of shaving my head for convenience, I’d grown it for a change. But my hair is really curly and it had got very unruly.
“Savill’s sorted it out with a new style that made me feel fantastic. It’s very !930s New York - very fashionable.”
““For the photo shoot I wore a 1920s-style suit from John Lancaster’s Savill’s collection. It matched the new hair, fitted like a glove and Iloved it so much, I bought it. It’s really distinctive and the cut is great. I’ve even got my initials embroidered on the inside!
“I will wear it as often as I can at all the events I attend for my career.”