Wild Romance is an independent salon located on Amsterdam’s popular Spuistraat. Run by hairdresser friends Heath Roberts and Clint Dunlop, the pair opened the salon together five years ago. It is the second salon for Roberts, whose first salon, Oh You Pretty Things, is directly across the street, just a stone’s throw from Wild Romance. Roberts explains that the decision to open the second salon, three years after the first one, came about very organically. “Clint was renting a chair at Oh You Pretty Things,” he says, “we always wanted to get our own place, so when this space became available across the street, we just did it”.
Housed in a 16th century building, Roberts explains that the inspiration behind Wild Romance’s distinctive interior was largely based around preserving the original features of the space. “It’s a really old building, the façade is from 1900, but the actual structure is from 1570,” he explains. “I’ve always thought this building looked like one of those old Dutch dolls houses that you see at the Rijksmuseum. Especially upstairs, with the big beams. So that’s what we went for – a dolls house interior. Each corner is a bit different, with lots of textures and patterns.”
The salon is split over two floors, each with its own distinctive feel. Downstairs is laid out in the style of a traditional barbershop, with oak panelling, decorative tiled flooring and leather barber chairs. Upstairs, stained glass features, ornate chandeliers and greenery creating a softer, romantic atmosphere.
INFRINGE spoke to co-owner Heath Roberts about his background in session styling and the unusual experience of running two different salons on the same street.
Clint Dunlop and Heath Roberts outside Wild Romance
“I’ve always thought this building looked like one of those old Dutch dolls houses that you see at the Rijksmuseum. So that’s what we went for - a dolls house interior”
Heath Roberts, co-owner
How did you first get into hair? I’m originally from Tasmania, but when I was 20 I moved to London and became a hairdresser. Later, I went travelling and ended up in Amsterdam, where I worked at Toni & Guy for five or six years. I only worked there part time, because I was more involved in the fashion side of hair, doing session styling – both hair and make-up – for shoots and shows. I was also doing some of my own photography and other bits and pieces, mostly fashion related…
How did you go from this to opening your first salon, Oh You Pretty Things? The turning point came when we found out my girlfriend was pregnant. I thought… I might need something steady now! That was how Oh You Pretty Things started. I found a shop that was cheap to rent and gradually more and more people got involved. Now I think we have 20 people all in all.
How do you think your background in session styling has influenced your approach to running a salon? On a pragmatic level – lots of contacts. I met a lot of people through doing session work in Amsterdam. On a personal level, developing aesthetics really deliberately, and being really focused on that for a few years, helped me to develop a trained eye.
Oh You Pretty Things and Wild Romance are directly opposite each other. What is it like running two different hair salons in such close proximity? To be honest, the decision to have the two shops based across the street from each other was mostly based on my laziness! Also, the first salon was always really busy, bursting at the seams. It just made sense – why not have the second one across the street? It works quite well for walk-ins and availability – if we get too full in one shop we can easily pick up the slack on the other side of the street.
How would you describe Wild Romance’s approach to hair? We’re not really conscious in following fashion too much. I think the main thing is that we want to make our clients happy and listen to what they want. If there’s any fashion or trend involved it’s more on an intuitive level.
What’s your favourite thing about having a salon in Amsterdam? Being able to ride my bike everywhere. Three minutes on the bike and I’m at work!