Robert Hely Obituary – The Daily Telegraph

Robert Hely
Hairdresser who built up the family business and became Glasgow’s leading celebrity ‘crimper’

Hely at work: he introduced clients to exotic new looks like ‘the Pink Cockatoo’
ROBERT HELY, who has died aged 87, was the second generation of a pioneering Glasgow hairdressing family.
He established himself in the early 1960s just as celebrity “crimpers” were emerging from the salons to become arbiters of style, and the client list of the Hely Hair Studio included many eminent Glaswegians including footballers, models, the star of Gregory’s Girl, Clare Grogan, and the television presenter Ross King.
The business had been founded in Sauchiehall Street in 1924 by his father, also Robert, who in 1947 was recruited by Mae West to be her personal stylist, when she brought her bawdy play, Diamond Lil, to the Alhambra Theatre for its only Scottish run. She wore elaborate hairpieces for the role, which Hely Senior bleached to be platinum blonde.
Young Robert inherited his father’s flair with the scissors, his understanding of fashion, and his flamboyance. He bought himself a large American car, a convertible Ford Galaxie Sunliner, in brilliant pink with the number-plate RH 777. He also entered competitions in which he would demonstrate the latest techniques in front of an audience, winning more than 75 awards including one from the National Hairdressers’ Federation.
Hely built up the business, opening a string of salons and introducing clients to exotic new styles like the “French Carina line” and “the Pink Cockatoo”. In his 1960s heyday he was the best-known hairdresser in Glasgow.
Robert Henry Joseph Ogilvie Hely was born on October 7 1930 at the family home in Renfrew Street, Glasgow, the son of Robert and his wife Rina (née Giannotti). He attended a primary school in the Gorbals but after the devastating Clydebank Blitz in March 1941 his father sent him and his three sisters to school at Katrine in Ayrshire.
On his return to Glasgow he had a spell at St Mungo’s school but left aged 15 to join his father at his Clarence Drive salon in the city’s West End. He then worked at a hairdresser’s in Mitchell Street before moving to London to study under the stylist Alfred Morris at his hairdressing school in Piccadilly.
Hely was extremely good company, and his clients valued his exuberant sense of humour and bottomless fund of one-liners. A fine golfer, he joined Cawder Golf Club in 1959, reducing his handicap to seven, winning the Oor Winter League trophy three times and becoming Cawder seniors’ club champion in 1998. He was a keen smoker of cigars and his pipe was never far from his mouth.
He had a passion for horse racing, supported Celtic football club “forever”, listened to Stan Getz, and took great delight in cooking the clootie dumpling at Christmas, as his large family fought over the cherished five-shilling coin. He was usually first on the dance-floor, and once returned from a trip to Miami with an Irish Dancing Trophy.
Hely retired at 85, and in 2016 collected the Glasgow Retail Business Lifetime Achievement Award.
He married, in 1952, Dolores Defazio, whom he had first met at Saint Aloysius Youth Club when he was 16. She died in 2000 and he is survived by their three sons and three daughters of whom two, Gary and Sindy, work in the business.


Robert Hely, born October 7 1930, died January 24 2018