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Harness & Mane: The Fetish Inspired Salon In Walthamstow

Being a Londoner, there are certain situations you find yourself in that you just have to go with. Ending up in a fetish themed salon on a Thursday evening was definitely one of those situations. But, in the name of beauty, was I really going to turn down the opportunity to get my hair done in one of East London’s leading salons? Absolutely not.  

The salon itself is in Walthamstow, and it seems only fitting that Europe’s only bondage themed salon is situated in East London. When entering the salon, I’m greeted by owner Gunel, who is dressed ever so coolly in an oversized white shirt, rope harness and choke collar. When asked about the concept, Gunel explains that she quite simply created a space that combined her two loves – hairdressing and fetishes.  

The space is aptly decked out in shibari rope art – an ancient form of Japanese rope bondage that Gunel is all too happy to tell me about in detail later on in our appointment. There’s also the boutique, where curious punters can browse a selection of charms, whips, chokers and cuffs if they so desire.  

Aside from that, an array of Olaplex, Redken and Davines products scatter the walls. With such an eccentric interior and concept, it can distract you from the main event; the hairdressing. Gunel and her friendly and approachable team don’t play around – these guys are the best in the biz when it comes to your precious locks, specialising in creative colours (rainbow hair? You got it), cuts and the latest in treatments.  

As a blonde who could definitely be better at maintenance, I attend Harness and Mane in need of a bit of a refresh. I talk through my options with Gunel, and we decide on a full head of highlights and lowlights, as well as an Olaplex treatment and a trim. Whilst Gunel gets to work on my tresses, we discuss all things fetishes – a topic of conversation I’ve not had with previous stylists, and any awkwardness I had about attending the salon melts away. 

The idea of a fetish themed salon can sound daunting to some, but the reality is that Gunel and husband Hughie have created a space where visitors can really be themselves in the hands of trusted stylists. The pricing is gender neutral, and inclusivity is promoted throughout the salon. Wanting to dip your toe into the world of fetish wear? Browse the extensive boutique collection. Seeking a stylist who can cater to curly hair? The team is equipped and experienced. Fetish events? They do them, too. From a simple cut and colour to kink events and everything in between, there are a plethora of reasons why someone would want to visit Harness and Mane, and great hair is just one of them. As I leave the salon with brighter, smoother, blonder and better locks, I’m left wanting to be BFF’s with Gunel, and wondering when I can book in for my next appointment.  

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