Chrissy ON Nov 21, 2013 AT 12:22 pm

by Chrissy Iley

Salon Benjamin, West Hollywood, CA

Salon Benjamin, West Hollywood, CA

I was traumatised when the John Frieda LA salon closed down. It was such a beautiful space with a lovely pool as its centrepiece – it has now been taken over by The Olsens as a Row flagship store. Before John Frieda Neil Diamond owned it – so the place was steeped in history and atmosphere.

I couldn’t possibly leave Rachel Carney, the best colourist in the world, so I followed her to her new salon. Rachel has been intuiting my hair for the past several years. Her knowledge of colour is beyond impressive. Her knowledge of my hair even more so. With an artist’s eye she’s always known how subtle changes in tone and warmth affect a person so greatly.

She has been a kind of therapist too. I’ve so often had self-destructive thoughts and wanted to take them out on my hair, but she would never let me.

It turns out that Salon Benjamin has been a wonderful move for her, as indeed it’s quite a wonderful place situated on Melrose Avenue just past my favourite restaurant in LA, Craig’s.

From the outside it looks like a library, or a vintage teapot shop. Inside the décor reflects the creativity and individualism of the stylists. It’s a haven of relaxation; English gentleman’s club meets exotic teashop.

The salon owner Benjamin Mohapi is a man of exquisite taste. Originally from Wales he went to London and worked with John Frieda and Daniel Galvin. He came to LA after being a star stylist and sought after by Rankin and LaChapelle.

If I wasn’t having my hair done in this salon I’d want to just sit in it. I love the wood panels that make it feel like a room in the Connaught. I love the vintage skittles, birds, mirrors with crow’s feet, the comfy leather chesterfield, the exquisite tea cups, the white chocolate and cranberry home baked cookies, the fur throws, the eclectic art. Each styling station is bespoke. There’s even a tea menu for afternoon tea.

Rachel’s work was not only as exquisite as ever, her new surroundings have even enhanced it. She changed the tone and colour of my hair by just a few shades of gold and enabled me to feel myself again. It isn’t just any old salon. Although it feels super discreet it counts David Beckham, Keira Knightley, Cameron Diaz and Diane Kruger as its clients.

There are plans to extend it and place it even  more firmly on the go to place for the Hollywood glitterati and their friends. Always nice to be greeted with a mismatched English tea cup.

While my colour was processing I sat on the Chesterfield and perused the book collection. There was an old book of Kurt Cobain’s early diaries and lyrics, copies of the original hand written pieces. So fascinating I’ve never had hair process so invisibly.

Salon Benjamin, 8910 Melrose Avnue, West Hollywood, California CA90069. Tel: 424-249-3296.

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