The Beauty Maker 

Deepak Bedi can't close his eyes.


Twenty years ago, London-raised Deepak Bedi, known to his clients as David, came to Richmond to visit friends. He liked the city so much he made a permanent decision: to open a beauty salon in Westhampton. London Hair Design brought international aesthetics to a city known for its conservative inclinations, and Bedi found a willing audience.

Belle: As a professional image maker, what's your guiding principle?

Bedi: I like to see natural beauty. Hair should be healthy and natural, skin should be healthy and natural, hair color should look natural. There are millions of shades from black to blond, and if you dye your hair it should compliment your skin tone. It took me a long time to learn that what I do is actually beneficial and not superficial. I'm not just beautifying people, I'm making them feel better about themselves. The strength of that point hit me very hard one day — I'm not just standing there cutting hair, I'm giving clients confidence. I've worked with a lot of cancer patients and they say they couldn't have gotten through it without my help. That was a big epiphany for me.

Do you ever see a person you'd like to get your hands on and completely make over, and do you have to fight the urge?

All the time! It's my occupational hazard. I can never close my eyes. I see somebody and I see the potential in them and I just want to take them home and redo their makeup and hair and dress them up. I encourage people to come to me and ask. … Most people do not see themselves as they are. It's rare for them to say “This is what I look like.” We look at ourselves in the mirror but we don't subject ourselves to the analysis. The job of your image consultant or hairdresser is to see that, to have the correct vision of what you look like.

You've cut the hair of former Virginia governors Gilmore and Warner, and you say Michelle Obama is fantastic and brilliantly put-together, but you'd like to give the president a makeover. What would be your suggestions for Mr. Obama?

As far as the hair goes, he's fine, but for dress, I'd get rid of the pleated pants and definitely put him in flat fronts. He's tall and slim, and should wear shorter jackets that aren't so boxy. He still obviously has to wear suits, but he needs to take a leaf from Europe. Ozwald Boateng suits would be perfect for him, or Paul Smith suits.

You're in the gym every day, sometimes twice a day, and you work nine hours in the salon and also do yoga, garden and paint. That gym must be really important to you.

I encourage my staff to eat healthy and to go to the gym, and one of the biggest things I talk about with my clients is their health. It changes your whole personality if you are not in shape or trying to get in shape. Eating healthy is 50 percent of the battle. You have better self-esteem, and whatever I do is going to look better on you — your skin is healthier, you don't need as much make-up because you have a great complexion. One of my best friends at the gym is a 60-year old trainer, and he's a source of inspiration for me.



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