Jonal Chong, the managing director of Jonal Chong Hair Couture in Orchard Central, has finally admitted that he has lied about his claims of having been a hairstylist for Nicole Kidman – he has never been near the superstar’s golden locks before. He also admitted to lying about American actress Katherine Heigl and British actor Hugh Grant being his clients.
The 48-year-old apologised to the public and also said that he would stop using the actress’ name in advertisements for his Orchard Central hairdressing salon. He asked the public to give him another chance, saying that he had not ridden on Kidman’s fame to charge high prices. Haircuts at his salon start at $13.
The admission came in the wake of the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) launching an investigation into the claims by Jonal Wong that he styled the tresses of Australian actress Nicole Kidman and those of other celebrities.
‘We are concerned that consumers may be misled by the advertisements of him saying that he is a celebrity hair stylist when he is not,’ said CASE executive director Seah Seng Choon.
He noted that such misrepresentation breaches advertising rules here, and added that CASE would contact Mr Chong to get an official reply about his claim of affiliation with Ms Kidman.
Chong made the claim in several advertisements published in newspapers here over the past month. Suspicions about the veracity of the claims surfaced after a newspaper report seemed to suggest that he may have doctored a publicity shot of himself with the A-list actress. The newspaper report put two photographs of Kidman – the one with Chong and the other with Spanish director Alejandro Amenabar – side by side.
The pictures look almost identical, except for the faces of the two men. The Australian actress is wearing the same black tube dress lined with vertical silver stripes. Amenabar and Mr Chong appear to share the same get-up of a black jacket over a blue shirt.
The photograph of Chong with Kidman is also printed on one side of all his business cards. Under his title of “managing director” on the card’s reverse side are the words: “Nicole Kidman Exclusively appointed hairstylist”.
Earlier before his admission of lying, when asked if he has other pictures of himself and Kidman, Chong said: “I have many but I left them in London.” He said he has a hair salon in London.
He said this is the only photo of him and Kidman which he brought home from London because “it showed me attending my first movie premiere with Nicole”, he explained.
Mr Chong, 48, who claimed to have been based in London for seven years, said he had been Ms Kidman’s hair stylist for three years. He also claimed that American actress Katherine Heigl and British actor Hugh Grant had been his clients.
When asked on Wednesday to explain the similarity between the two photographs, Mr Chong told my paper: “I don’t know… I can’t explain it. I don’t know why Nicole’s head is facing the same direction. I don’t know why the background looks similar.”
Jonal Wong has now admitted he has never cut Nicole’s hair before. Newspaper report said Chong clammed up when he was asked what was the reason for lying and whether the photo of Kidman and him standing together was doctored.
Apparently it is now clear that the photo of Chong with Kidman was doctored using Photoshop. A Singapore-based blogger I.Z Reloaded has doctored the photo of Kidman to show himself with Kidman to prove his point that Jonal Wong’s photo with Kidman was doctored. The photo of Kidman with I.Z. Reloaded is shown below so you can be the judge.
In view of the latest development, it appears CASE would not pursue the matter further now that Chong has come clean and stop his misleading advertisements. But I think Chong has lost his credibility and may face a backlash from his clients.