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Leonard of Mayfair obituary

Le 17 décembre 2016, 10:28 dans Beauté 0

Although Leonard Lewis – the hairdresser known professionally as “Leonard of Mayfair” – trained in Vidal Sassoon’s London salon in Bond Street, their approaches to hair and the people beneath it were irreconcilable. Sassoon treated locks as millinery felt, to be cut and sculpted into “hats”, uniformly imposed. Lewis, who has died aged 78, understood hair as organic, sensuous as fur, and that its owners might need psychological support more than a sharp shearing. “We’d discuss how you felt, what you wanted to be,” he told the style magazine Dazed in 2008. “Then we would achieve it, together. The only way hair works is between two people.”

Lewis could do fashion – in 1966 he cropped, and his colourist Daniel Galvin bleached, the schoolgirl Lesley Hornby, and the resultant photograph, hung in the salon, was enough to start her modelling career as Twiggy. He was an early volunteer to style fashion shoots in studios and locations, which most name hairdressers would not do, since it was unprofitable; in the fashion-wig era, from the mid-1960s, his extravaganzas were the wild best.

But Lewis’s sympathy was more important to celebrities, who embodied their own and others’ fantasies; he was discreet about Tony Curtis’s toupee, patient with Elizabeth Taylor’s hairpiece, calm when Mick and Bianca Jagger ranted in his salon. He unpicked and trimmed Bob Marley’s dreadlocks. If a client was not willing, he did not attempt to persuade. Margaret Thatcher’s advisers brought her in for a cut and “she wouldn’t let me touch a strand … that was how she would keep it”.

It cost him effort to ascend. He was born in west London, the unwanted fourth child of a shady car salesman, John Lewis, and his wife, Amelia, of Shepherd’s Bush. Leonard’s education was minimal and the real flash of inspiration came from a 1952 French film, Coiffure Pour Dames, that he saw at the Curzon, Mayfair (Lewis was obsessed with the area), with the comic Fernandel as a sheep-shearer who remakes himself into a stylist adored by Parisian society.

Lewis worked at auctions with his father, who knew many noted crooks, and as a labourer and barrow-boy, and saved enough to pay for three years of apprenticeship with Rose Evansky of Mount Street, who died last month. Boys of rough background were not usually accepted in Mayfair salons — the pinnacle of the UK trade, of near-Parisian glamour — but Lewis got in, and Evansky’s pioneering blow-drying influenced him. Lewis had a year at Sassoon, then set up a small salon on a bank overdraft in Duke Street in partnership with a fellow Sassoon defector, Raphael Santarossa. His final transition was to his Upper Grosvenor Street salon, The House of Leonard. The name was a bit much. So was the venue.

Lewis’s childhood had been dingy and cramped, and to rent five Georgian floors in Mayfair in his 20s was making it. He avoided the traditional local chandelier and frou-frou decor, aiming instead for the buzz of the new bistro restaurants, like his favourite, San Lorenzo – he was more chef-patron than maître-coiffure, despite his staff retinue. Lewis would listen to a client before starting to cut, then requested silence.

The top floor was opened as a barbershop for clients’ menfolk, Galvin’s radical colour experiments were given another floor, and the in-house chemist reformulated the bright textile dyes of the young Zandra Rhodes to apply to hair. She designed the salon’s gowns. Models – Marie Helvin, Jerry Hall — brought in music people (the Stones, Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust phase), who attracted the film folk (Warren Beatty, Audrey Hepburn, Liza Minnelli, Meryl Streep).

Lewis already had a connection to the movie world, as hairdresser to the women of the Carreras family, which owned the Hammer horror production company, and had worked on the films: “I just loved the theatricality, all the lights.” So he was up for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – Lewis offered his wigmaker to knot the ape-suits, and styled them, no different from toupee-shaping — and confected the high-frothed, pastel-tinted 18th-century wigs for Barry Lyndon (1975).

Kubrick didn’t want artifice for A Clockwork Orange (1971), so Lewis hacked its brutal proto-punk spikes on the actors for real. Much of the charm of The Boy Friend (1971) lies in Lewis’s sweet bob for Twiggy. Murder on the Orient Express (1974) was heavily Lewis-bewigged.

Lewis lived large and was a spendthrift: town house, country house, restaurants, clubbing. He had little financial acumen, was slow to open salons he could not personally supervise and did not see the future in the name-brand products that began to dominate rivals’ businesses.

In 1986 he collapsed in a Park Lane hotel – Mayfair, of course – and had successful surgery for a brain tumour. There followed alcoholism, bulimia and epilepsy. He was bankrupted, and he survived on income support in the home of his much older sister, until old colleagues, former trainees, and clients set up a trust to fund his nursing-home care. He kept his scissors, and a few friends, including Jack Nicholson, visited for a trim.

His first marriage, to the model Ricci Wade, ended in 1977; in 1980 he was briefly married to Petra Arzberger, who encouraged him to open branches in New York and Dubai.

'Theresa May's silence on women's issues is deafening'

Le 6 décembre 2016, 05:02 dans Beauté 0

She may be the UK’s second female prime minister, but Theresa May’s silence on women’s issues has been “deafening”, the leader of the Women’s Equality party has said, criticising the government for its lack of action on pay transparency, childcare and social care.

Ahead of the party’s first annual conference in Manchester, Sophie Walker said 2016 had been a testing time for women in politics, despite May’s elevation to No 10, adding that the election of Donald Trump meant politicians could no longer deny the scale of sexism in politics.

On the steps of Downing Street after she became prime minister, May said the gender pay gap was one of the key issues of economic inequality that she was determined to tackle. “She has done nothing and it has been a huge disappointment,” Walker said.

“There was this hope she had come into the job with an understanding of what needed to be done for equal opportunities. The Conservatives said they would axe section 78 of the Equalities Act and insist businesses move towards total pay transparency and we were delighted, but since then, nothing.

“The government said it would issue guidelines this autumn to companies and we’ve seen absolutely nothing. There’s nothing in the autumn statement about childcare or social care. The silence is deafening.”

Walker, a former London mayoral candidate, called Trump’s victory in the US a “devastating blow” and said her party expected to see a jump in membership figures in the weeks to come.

“At least now we don’t have to debate if misogyny exists. We don’t have to debate sexism,” she said. “I’m so used to starting interviews with people who begin by saying, ‘women are equal, come come, there isn’t a problem’.

“In some respects, now all that awfulness is exposed to the light, it is very clear what we are up against and there is a real push for an alternative.”

Formed 18 months ago, Walker said many of the party’s 65,000 members and registered supporters had expressed interested in standing in strategic seats, though the party has joined the Greens in a progressive alliance in Richmond Park to give its backing to the Lib Dems’ Sarah Olney, who is fighting the former Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith, now an independent.

As well as stepping up its electoral strategy, Walker said the party would continue to “challenge the idea that affordable childcare, fair pensions, ending violence against women are somehow something to be done once the more important stuff has happened”.

The party has devised specialist training for candidates to prepare them for being in the public eye. “It is very difficult for women to be public figures. They come under levels of abuse that are entirely disproportionate and are specific to our sex,” Walker said.

“I am very conscious, doing this job, I am saying, ‘come with me, be part of this, let’s stand together’ and I am aware what a big ask that is because you are offering yourself up to abuse. But the more women there are in politics, the more we can look out for each other and normalise women’s voices.”

The cystitis and cranberry juice myth: New research exposes 'cure' as complete nonsense

Le 10 novembre 2016, 04:52 dans Lifestyle 0

For years people have believed that cranberry juice can fight bladder infections - but now scientists are saying it's a myth.

New research published by the Yale School of Medicine has found no evidence that the superfruit can fight off injections in the bladder or kidneys in women, and that includes cystitis. 

The study took two sample groups from nursing homes – where urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the most common infection – and provided half of the women with cranberry capsules. The others were given a placebo pill.

The cranberry tablets contained 72mg of the active ingredient proanthocyanidin which is equivalent to just over one pint of cranberry juice a day.

Over the course of a year the cranberry treatment made no difference to the presence of white blood cells or bacteria in the urine of the women, a common and tell-tale sign of urinary tract infections. 

In fact, the difference between the treatment group and the control group was just 0.1 per cent; the first measuring 29.1 per cent and the placebo team not far behind at 29.0 per cent. There was also no reduction in the number of bladder problems the women experienced.

“Many studies of cranberry products have been conducted over several decades with conflicting evidence of its utility for UTI prevention”, Dr Manisha Juthani-Mehta said.

“The results have led to the recommendation that cranberry products do not prevent UTI overall.

“This trial did not show a benefit of cranberry capsules in terms of a lower presence of bacteriuria plus pyuria among older women living in nursing homes.”

Remarkably, bacteriuria - the presence of bacteria in the urine – is found in 25 to 50 per cent of women while a staggering 90 percent suffer from pyuria - the presence of pus in the urine, typically from bacterial infection.

In many instances, cranberry is used to drive out the infection despite this method not being backed by science

Dr Lindsay Nicolle of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, said: “The continuing promotion of cranberry use to prevent recurrent UTI in the popular press or online advice seems inconsistent with the reality of repeated negative studies or positive studies compromised by methodological shortcomings.

“Any continued promotion of the use of cranberry products seems to go beyond available scientific evidence and rational reasoning.

“Recurrent UTI is a common problem that is distressing to patients and because it is so frequent and costly for the health care system.

“It is time to identify other potential approaches for management. It is time to move on from cranberries.”

So why are cranberries promoted as a super food? Well, while they might not be effective at curing UTIs they do contain compounds such as flavonoids which contribute to your health with some serious heart health benefits. They are also an anti-inflammatory which helps to promote good cholesterol and lowers blood pressure. 

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