Talk about an out of this world haircut. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist).
To look his best before heading to space on Sunday, billionaire Sir Richard Branson got his locks spiffed up by a local stylist. Actually, Sean Donaldson, who owns salons in Miami Beach and Brickell, has been Branson’s go-to guy for years.
But the Scotland-born grooming pro has always done his client’s hair while the Virgin founder was living his best life with his feet firmly on the ground.
We were curious what kind of look the billionaire adventurer chose for his awesome mission, which launched him and five crew members 53.5 miles above the Earth’s surface from Virgin Galactic’s spaceport in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Donaldson spoke to Miami.com about the experience and the so called Zero Gravity Haircut.
Tell us about Richard’s pre-launch haircut — how many days in advance did you cut it?
I did it the day before. We were in New Mexico already and he said, “I need a fresher look for tomorrow.” He gave me ideas and we agreed for a tighter, cleaner look with more texture through the top. And I got to work.
Did he have any specific requests?
He told me what he was thinking, and we planned the look. The whole idea was to give a more modern yet rugged-classic look. The eyes of the world and beyond were going to be on him. He wanted it to be sharper around the sides and the back; tailored yet loose. Yet still recognizably Richard Branson.
What was it like being in New Mexico before the launch? Did he confide in you how he felt beforehand?
Being in New Mexico before the launch was absolutely magical. To visit Spaceport felt like being in one of the wonders of the world. It’s breathtaking. The atmosphere was electric and very alive. It was a surreal experience. We spoke about his excitement and his enthusiasm and for what he was about to embark on and what it would mean for future space travelers. I got the impression this was more exciting to him with regards to the future of commercial space travel and opening the doors for all of mankind having the chance to go to space, which he had dreamed of as a small boy.
How long have you been cutting his hair and how regularly do you see him?
I have been very fortunate to know Richard and [his wife] Joan Branson for many decades, and I have cut Richard’s hair everywhere from Miami and London to Necker Island and all the way to South Africa. However, never did I ever imagine I would be cutting his hair the day before he went on this historic, pioneering trip. To say this was an unforgettable experience is an understatement.
Celebrity/real time news reporter Madeleine Marr has been with The Miami Herald since 2003. She has covered such features as travel, fashion and food. In 2007, she helped launch the newspaper’s daily People Page, attending red carpet events, awards ceremonies and press junkets; interviewing some of the biggest names in show business; and hosting her own online show. She is originally from New York City and has two daughters.