Nicky Clarke talks politicians’ hair, Prince William and much more for The Independent

What were you doing before this phone call?
I’ve got two meetings going on downstairs – it’s so diverse. I’m in the process of digitally scanning all our historic pictures from 30-odd years ago right up to date. We were just looking at this thing we did with Penelope Cruz for Mango about six years ago and the guy helping me said it was amazing how fresh it still looks.

But do we make haircuts like we used to?
It’s so interesting when a layperson asks that. You get these very, very iconic cuts about every six years. From Farrah Fawcett in the Seventies, to Meg Ryan in the Nineties, then Jennifer Aniston, Posh Spice, up to your current crop. The past few years people have had things much looser – it almost wasn’t about the cut, but texture and colour. But now, if you look at somebody like Sienna Miller who always had that long boho look, it’s suddenly all above the shoulders and like Alexa Chung. The cuts are coming back.

What do you think of politicians’ hair?
Sam Cameron’s is good because she goes to one of our stylists when they do conferences up north. But it’s hard for politicians – you have to think about image but also not try too hard. The SNP leader [Nicola Sturgeon] up in Scotland got constantly criticised for her look and I think that’s unfair. Women get a raw deal in politics.

Do you like George Osborne’s new do?
If you look at early pictures, it looks as if he probably realised he was starting to lose it and thought it was a good idea to cut it short. It suits his lean look.

What about Nigel Farage’s classic side-parting?
Publicist interjects: “Can we move off politics now?”

No problem. What if Prince William came to you and said, ‘Look, can you help me?’
It’s very tricky keeping that balance between a semi-normal existence but also being the King-in-waiting. But it’s clearly something that doesn’t worry him that much – and while he’s losing his hair, he’s tall enough that I’m sure it isn’t high on his agenda.

What was the first proper haircut you did?
It would have been in training and an insignificant trim, but I think in terms of my first magazine spread, I was very young, 17 or 18, when I got into Vogue in 1976.

How much do you charge these days, and how often are you cutting hair?
The first consultation is £500 and that can go down to £350 and I think it’s about £350 after that. And unlike many of my contemporaries, I still work fully, two days a week. I enjoy being in the salon and being part of that vibe. It’s important for me and other people, as well.

How long does it take to do your own hair?
It’s very easy. I use my own shampoo for blond hair, and conditioner, and maybe a product to stop it going too fluffy. It’s not actually high-maintenance.

Have you ever changed it?
It’s amazing how many people say, “You’ve had that same style for God knows how many years”. It’s actually gone from way past my shoulders to pretty short, but people tend to see a blond head of hair first – they don’t see the change. But at my age, I’m just thrilled that I still have any.

Nicky Clarke began working as a hairdesser as a teenager. He worked for John Frieda until he opened his own salon in 1991, becoming the country’s most well-known hair stylist. He was awarded an OBE in 2008. His new HairWise range is available now, exclusively at Tesco.