Ben Cooke is a well known hairdresser in the fashion industry, signed to one of the best agencies in London and owner of his own fabulous salon, Lockonego, on London's famous Kings Road. Ben has created hairstyles for a very long list of the worlds most famous celebrities including Leona Lewis, Minnie Driver, Gwyneth Paltrow, Katie Holmes, Thandie Newton, Keira Knightly, Chloe Sevigny, Joely Richardson, I could go on. He also created the famous 'Pob' hairstyle for Victoria Beckham and has work in all the glossies such as  Harpers Bazaar, Elle, Vogue, Marie Claire and Elle, including many international issues. He has worked on campaigns for massive names like Roc-a-wear, Adidas, Police, L’Oreal, Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Carlsberg, Motorola, New Look, Debenhams, Warehouse, Gilette, Pepsi, Wella, Schwarzkopf, Vodafone, Jenny Packham, Religion, Montblanc, Superdrug and Siemens, which are just a few! Ben is also ambassador for the Herbal Essences brand. I grabbed some time with the lovely man himself to find out how he started his career and as always, I asked him to share some of his invaluable tips.

MANW: How did you start your career and what was the progression it took?
BC: I started hairdressing at 15 years old in a local salon in south east London whilst still at school. After leaving school I started working full time in a salon in Knightsbridge, then another in Covent Garden and then I joined Toni & Guy in the early 90s where I qualified. After working my way up through the ranks at T&G I left after 7 years and took a year out in Australia in 1996. I didn't really want to do hair there but I got talked into doing fashion shoots and it has all been onwards and upwards since then. 

MANW: You mainly do fashion and beauty hair, were you ever tempted to work in dramas or film?
BC: I've never been tempted to do any film work. The fashion and beauty industry moves so fast and is different every day and every shoot that I can't imagine working on a film.

MANW: You've had a successful career working with lots of high profile celebrities, how does working a red carpet differ to other jobs?
BC: Doing hair for the red carpet can be slightly different to regular hair. The hair needs to be prepped in a different way to maintain the style and make sure it lasts all night. Red carpet hair can get photographed from many different ages so it's very important it's perfect. 

MANW: Which do you prefer doing; editorial shoots, fashion shows or red carpet events?
BC: I happy doing hair on happy people so not to fussed as to where it ends up. Fashion, beauty and red carpet are all equally important so you always have to do your best. 

MANW: You worked on some incredible people and created some infamous hair styles, like the 'pob' on Victoria Beckham and Amanda Holdens chop. Can you tell us about some of the stand out moments of your career?
BC: I think the amount of press that VB's 'pob' got was amazing. We cut it on a very relaxed Sunday afternoon and I honestly didn't think about the reaction it was going to get whilst I was cutting it. When my business partner and I opened our salon, Lockonego, on the Kings Road in London 8 years ago that was an amazing moment for us both. 

MANW: You've been in the industry a long time, how do you think it has differed and what advice would you give to new stylists starting out?
BC: The industry has changed a lot and especially the last few years since photography went digital. I remember well the old days of film and Polaroid! Naturally everything is much faster and more instant these days but hair still needs to be done well and to a very high standard. Hair can be hard to retouch on photos so the more perfect it can be the better. 

MANW: All artists have 'the wish list'. Mine is Connie Britton, I'm obsessed with getting my hands on her amazing hair. Who's on yours?
BC: I've been lucky enough to get my hands on some pretty fabulous heads of hair over the years and I'm very grateful to have done those. I have to admit I would like to do Kate Windsors' hair. Not that it's bad in any way I'd just like to see her vary it. 

MANW: On to the good stuff, what are your tricks that you can share for specific hair styles?
BC: There are so many tips and tricks for hair and I wouldn't want to give away all my secrets. Prepping hair is the most important thing, be it the right product, the blow dry or the back combing. Each stage helps the next and nothing should be rushed or overlooked.

MANW: What are your top 5 holy grail hair products?
BC: My 5 top products would be to start with a great shampoo and conditioner. I've been working with Herbal Essences for the last few years and they do a great range. Next a great blow dry lotion or mousse to give the hair some hold, Sebastian do amazing styling products. Then it's got to be a tangle teaser! They're fabulous and everyone needs one. A professional hair dryer with a nozzle is a must to achieve what you want from your blow dry. Then last but not least a good hair spray to hold your style, I love all John Frieda sprays. 

MANW: What's your best hair tip to give women?
BC: My best hair tip to give woman is what ever you want to do with you hair styling wise, do it on clean freshly washed hair. You will always get better results and it will be easier to do, I hate dry shampoo.

MANW: Finally, I ask all the makeup artists I interview this question about false eyelashes but I'm going to ask you the same about extensions/weaves/hair pieces - the longer the better or enough already they look ridiculous?
BC: Unless hair extensions are a perfect match and you know your limits they can start to look ridiculous.

You can follow Ben on Twitter and contact his salon Lockonego for appointments.

If you liked this interview and would like to read other leading industry makeup artists stories have a look at the rest of the 'Meet The Artist' series here.

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