None of us has had a professional haircut in months, including Lino Carbosiero, who also happens to be one of the top hairdressers in the world. Clients include Madonna, David Cameron and, most famous and enigmatic of all, Melania Trump. "Mine's very uneven," he laughs, running his hands through his black crop with salt-and-pepper speckles. "My teenage daughter got a bit overenthusiastic."
During lockdown Carbosiero, who is normally based at the Daniel Galvin salon in Mayfair, has been coaching some of his famous clients through DIY trims over Zoom.
"Hair is everything," he says. "You get to know so much about your clients and the trust is huge. You become part of their family. You see them in their pants, wet hair, no make-up, you see them raw."
In 2014 he was made an MBE for services to hairdressing and he's exactly how you want a hairdresser to be - full of compliments and funny anecdotes (all with a hefty dose of name-dropping). He was invited to style Melania Trump's hair for the presidential state visit to the UK in June 2019 (Buckingham Palace recommended him for the gig) and he has since become the FLOTUS' mane man, even flying out to tend her balayage waves for the G7 summit in Biarritz in August.
"Me and my assistant have never been treated so well by anyone as we have by the President and the First Lady, and I don't just mean financially," he says. "You are literally checked on constantly. 'Are you okay?' 'Would you like a drink?' Nothing is a problem."
Perhaps more than anyone in the world, Melania has suffered considerable unflattering comments which have veered into downright sexism. Not only has she been subject to conspiracy theories (#FakeMelania, the First Lady's body double), countless comedy sketches and twitter troll campaigns in the past, not to mention all those "Free Melania" memes - which depict her as trapped and unhappy in the White House; now a new tell-all book about Melania, The Art of Her Deal, by Mary Jordan, claims that behind her remote facade, Mrs Trump is influential, shrewd and a "balancing influence" on Donald. "There's a solidity to the Melania," Jordan reports Donald Trump as saying. "She's very solid."
Jordan interviewed all of the President's men, more or less, for the biography, as well as everyone else from Melania's childhood friends to her maid.
Carbosiero, who knows her well, agrees entirely that she is the power behind the throne. He also corroborates what Jordan says about her relationship with Trump being very tight. "It's rubbish what they say about the First Lady and the President [not being in love]," he says. "I've seen them close up and they're so sweet to each other and very close."
The book also claims that Melania ruthlessly hires and fires the staff. What does he think she'd be like as a boss? "Her team are treated so well," he says emphatically. "I know because I've spoken to them, I've spoken to the Secret Service. I can't talk politically, take that out of it, because I don't want to get involved, but when it comes to manners and putting themselves out, [The Trumps] are amazing.
"I was in a room at the American ambassador's house and the President was walking past, very fast, and the door was only open a small crack but he saw me sitting there and he stopped and came in and said hello. He's the most famous man in the world and he introduced himself to me and to my assistant. A lot of people wouldn't have done that. At Christmas they bought my two assistants a gift - they're very sweet."
He says it's not hard to make Melania's hair look good. "When you have a face like that to work with…" he says wistfully. "You put her hair up, down, stick a hat on her head - she looks amazing. Even with no make-up she's beautiful."
Is she chatty? "Yeah, she is," he says. "And it's not nonsense chat. She asks about my family, my daughters, she remembers their names. There's no snootiness there, there's a warm hug. She always wants to give you something to eat. She could be Italian because she's so hospitable like that."
He has been invited to the White House, but he hasn't been able to travel yet because of Covid-19 restrictions. "From a selfish point of view, hopefully they win the next election so that I can get to go there," he laughs. "I haven't cut the President's hair. I'd love to cut his hair. I'd love to cut everybody's hair because there's nothing like chatting to someone in the mirror with the scissors and the comb."
What does he make of Boris' current barnet, which Piers Morgan recently likened to Worzel Gummidge's? "I saw Boris in Biarritz and actually I noticed that his hair was perfectly cut and groomed," he says. "But then literally one second before he went on air, he messed it up. I don't know if massaging his head is a way for him to calm himself down or part of his thinking process. I don't know who does his hair but I imagine that poor person watches him mess it up with horror and has nightmares about it.
"He does look like he needs his hair doing. He hasn't had a haircut because of lockdown, so fair play to him, I've noticed a lot of the footballers have, so I don't know why it's a problem for Boris to have one."
Carbosiero, who charges £198 for a ladies' cut and blow dry, estimates that he's worked with around 400 celebrities over the years. Dustin Hoffman, Mick Jagger and Kylie Minogue have all sat in his chair, but he says that A-listers often come and see him and go unnoticed.
He's had many pinch-me moments over the years, and he's nothing if not bipartisan, having coiffed both the Trumps and the Clintons. "I was in Hillary Clinton's hotel room when she was Secretary of State, and I was standing there waiting while she was washing her hair and then I did a double take - her husband was sitting there having his breakfast. He came over and said hello, and we had a chat. Hillary says to me, 'You alright?' and I said, 'You don't understand - this is so surreal for me. I'm from a working-class background and now I'm in the room with the former President and the Secretary of State. And she said, 'Why wouldn't you be here? You've worked so hard in your life.' It was a lovely thing to say, to be recognised for doing what you do."