Dior’s new UK grooming expert talks connections, Guinness and being ready for when Johnny Depp calls… 

Hayden Cassidy working
Hayden Cassidy
When a young footballing Hayden Cassidy broke her leg while on a US college scholarship – signalling the end of her playing career – she probably wouldn’t have predicted where she would be today. In a move that underpins an important statement on the place of women in the traditionally male-dominated world of barbering, Hayden has been unveiled as Dior UK’s grooming expert. Let that sink in for a moment…

It seemed a stretch when Hayden saw an email in her inbox in January last year from the Dior beauty team (she thought it was spam and ignored it). They chased her on Instagram, keen to discuss working together. The fashion and beauty giant had been impressed by what they had seen of the Dublin born, London-based barber across social media, working across editorial, education, with musicians and behind the chair with a laser focus on fusing
barbering with fashion.

Let’s not forget, she won The It Girl at the 2020 It List awards, such was her impression on the judges. She was also one of the stars of The Industry’s Not Just A Hairdresser campaign in 2022, showcasing perfectly the thrilling and creative possibilities of a career in hair beyond the expected. It’s been clear that Hayden Cassidy was always going to stand out…

Hayden Cassidy
Pierre Mouton for Parfums Christian Dior
Dior has commented on how Hayden “strives to push the boundaries of men’s grooming while showcasing her signature clean, contemporary and detailed style” – the reason why she is the ideal expert for Dior to partner and work closely together with over the next year. Her creative vision and skills will be on hand for editorial, digital, influencer and celebrity projects, with her aligned with Dior’s Sauvage line. 

Hayden has deemed the partnership as “a dream come true”, and her expertise for Dior has seen her featured already in high profile pieces in the Financial Times, Wonderland and the ES Magazine. 

“Where do men get a lot of their grooming tips from? They don’t go into shops, and they don’t search on articles or magazines, they look to their trusted barber,” says Hayden. For so long, barbers haven’t really been given those opportunities when it comes to fashion and editorial work. As a luxury brand, it’s been incredible for Dior to recognise the barber as someone that has that information, and given that title. What’s really exciting is that it’s a new role for both myself and Dior. They’re really open to working side by side, more of a collaboration.” That’s already meant trips to Paris, including a tour of the Dior archives and gallery (“a ‘pinch me moment!”)  

Photography by Declan Kelly (@declankelly)
Does she see Dior’s choice of a female barber as a grooming expert, sharing techniques and advice across social media and editorial, as important? “Definitely, it shows how the industry has evolved. From going into what people might think is quite an intimidating, male-dominated industry to getting opportunities like this. I’m not saying I’m a hairstylist; I’m a barber. It’s something that I never shied away from.  

 “A few years ago, everybody tried to drop the barber term. But there’s something about history and heritage in the barbering culture that I fell in love with, the classic shaves. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always said I hated going into a salon, that never attracted me. Barbering has this ritual; it feels like a sacred practice.” 

The Dior gig comes at a time of exciting change for Hayden. Having outgrown her Hackney studio unit, she’s recently set up a larger collaborative space in London Fields called Croí (pronounced ‘kree’, it’s Gaelic for ‘heart’), where clients can chill out, guest artists can work (Dublin colourist Sara Hurley has visited) and other creatives can host pop-ups (two of Hayden’s friends – a jeweller and a designer – have already done just that).  

“Where do men get a lot of their grooming tips from? They don’t go into shops, and they don’t search on articles or magazines, they look to their trusted barber.”

Hayden Cassidy

 “It still feels intimate, comfortable and welcoming. I get recommended by barbers in Ireland to clients moving over here, and the barber might be the first person they meet in this scary big city. It’s always been important for me to be that connection that people have, where they can feel welcome. And where they can get their recommendations for a good pint of Guinness!” Indeed, she has a list of perfect pub pourers divided into north, south, east and west London. 

She’s still educating – this year has included Mexico and Italy – but she’s also learning how not to say yes to everything. “I’m open to every opportunity but my studio is fully booked three weeks in advance, and I’m a little bit on call with Dior. If Johnny Depp needs grooming for an event, I have to jump on a plane and be there! I do also need time to sit down and just enjoy my successes. I’m so hyper, I love doing a million things. But I’m in such a happy place when I’m behind the chair with my clients, in my own space, having a connection and that chat… and that’s something hopefully that I’ll have forever.”