The man who Vidal Sassoon described as, ‘the friend who influenced my career most,’ was a former prisoner of war who went on to be an integral part of the London hairdressing scene.
Leslie was released from a North African camp at the end of the Second World War and, at the age of 26, signed a three-year, £1-a-week contract with highly-respected London hairdresser, Charles Plumridge.
He went on to join the acclaimed Romaine’s salon on Edgware Road, which is where he first met Vidal as well as Harold Leighton and other notable industry names.
“It was an exciting era in hairdressing,” he said in an interview. “Romaine’s had a school every night when we worked on models and discussed the good and bad points of each cut.”
It was at Romaine’s that Leslie met the woman who would become his wife, Connie Baker – an acclaimed hairdresser in her own right and winner of the Rosebowl and Vacquenol Shield.
The two toured Ireland together in the 1950s demonstrating fashionable Nickel cold perming techniques but returned to London within two years with Leslie joining Andre Bernard to train hairdressers who owned their own salons.
It was here that he met Robert Zackham, who offered Leslie half of his business – Robert of Croydon. “We became partners,” Leslie recalled, “and eventually grew to ten salons.”The final years of his career were spent managing the Purley and Croydon salons and, after retiring on the advice of his doctor, continued as owner of the former.
He is survived by his wife, Connie.