As some of you may know, I took a sabbatical from magazines in 2009 after burning myself out on a global launch the year before. I gave up my Manhattan apartment on St Mark’s Place, flogged the remnants of my working life on eBay and headed first to California, and then to New Jersey to write & re-assess my priorities, all the while blogging my adventures with gusto.

It was a fantastic, glorious year filled with new friends, much generosity of spirit, Basset hounds & Dalmatians, and wonderful experiences. But I didn’t earn any money from journalism, or from anything else come to that, so it was also the year of no new clothes, no treats and, sniff, no hairdressing. And goodness by the beginning of 2010 could you tell.

I was born very blonde, never a slave to the dye bottle and the six week root touch up, and frequent trips abroad for work (I was an editor at Conde Nast Traveller in my twenties) and summers in Ibiza kept my hair golden. But inevitably, as you get older, hair starts to darken and I became increasingly aware that my golden locks were looking somewhat mouse-y.

Proof: Me in New Jersey summer 2009


I had my hair highlighted twice in the most natural way by the brilliant Sharon Shalom at his tiny two-seater salon in the East Village in 2008, but by April 2010 it was looking distinctly lacklustre. The final straw came whilst I was sipping a cocktail in the Dominican Republic last April with a (male) editor who said in scathing tone in reply to a comment I had made: but Sasha you’re not blonde.

I wept inwardly.

And called the Frederic Fekkai publicist in London. Two weeks later I was sitting in a chair in the most luxuriously glamorous hair salon. Perched above Henri Bendel on Fifth Avenue, it is quite unlike anything I have ever seen. For a start it’s enormous, with double height ceilings and tables rather than serried rows of stations.

My Very Important stylist had an assistant, my colourist had two. And when I left I had the kind of swing & gloss to my hair that Park Avenue Princesses have sported since time immemorial.

(I warn you: It is quite ruinously expensive for colour – think high three figures for a cut & colour once you’ve factored in the obligatory 20% tips to everyone who touches your barnet But if the price of a colour makes you blanch, I’d definitely put the more affordable blow out or cut at Fekkai on a list of amazing things to do in New York. It is about as quintessential a Manhattan experience as you can get.)

And the colour? Well, my mixed message about wanting a very natural look but wanting to be blonde (I cannot abide streaky highlights) gave me a first round balayage that was so beautifully natural that I couldn’t discern any difference, so I went back to the chair for round two and came out most definitely, most distinctly blonde again. (With hindsight it was a bit banana blonde at first but after a few weeks it settled down and was a really great colour.)

And finally I felt like me again.

This is me about six weeks later, with my shiny blonde hair. ( There are very very few photos of me kicking about from last summer as I was in hospital and unwell for most of it.)



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Oh dear, my hair looks exactly like ‘New Jersey 2009’! Having never ever coloured my hair perhaps it’s time for ‘New York 2010’?


Such a beautiful blonde! Worth every penny, I’d say. Utterly gorgeous.


Oh I know that feeling of realising the blonde has gone mouse, and not even an interesting dark colour. And particularly with (proper) long hair where the new growth just looks blah, even if the length near the waist is sun-bleached. No wonder you cried inside — what a thing to say to you! Thank goodness for foil highlights! Every 6 months, just to keep me looking me.


You’ve just reminded me to book an appointment! Thanks.


As this is part 1, I’m eagerly anticipating the other parts. I to am heading to the “not a blonde” status for the fist time in years. Had to leave my stylist/colorist back in LA last year. Although she’s promised a visit, I’m long overdue for a color (and a proper cut!!) and looking for options in Manhattan.


The benefit of having naturally lighter hair: I am starting to spot the odd grey (AT 25 YEARS OLD *sob*) and they really stand out against my natural chocolate brown locks.


The Fekkai results look amazing… ! Wish I could afford to go too. 🙂
I am in the same boat as the commenter above… highlights every 6 months. I wouldn’t feel like me without the hair (color) I was born with. I love Oscar Blandi hair powder, when I’m needing highlights, it helps brighten the top of the head.


I feel your mousey blonde pain – I’m sporting that very look right now! (for same lack of funds reason! Have got so fed up am trying the DIY solution – but easing into it with some John Frieda for blondes lightening spray, so fingers crossed my hair might resemble something blonde once again.


your hair looks amazing! there is something to be said for the art of mastering colour, i bow my head to those that find it.


becky – I feel your pain on the white hair, I found my first one at 15.

Sasha – hair is a funny thing, yours looks beautiful even in the “mousy” shot but I understand how you felt on being told you’re not blonde (I’d have the exact same reaction if someone told me my hair wasn’t really black). Nice to know you found the right colour, though.

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