Photo: Steven Klein for Balenciaga
When Balenciaga released its new fall ad late last week, the Internet flew into a tizzy. It looked like its star, Gisele Bundchen, had ditched her oft-imitated beach waves for a closely cropped androgynous cut. She did not; the nearly shaved head was the result of a collaboration between designer Alexander Wang, photographer Steven Klein, creative director Pascal Dangin, and British hairstylist Anthony Turner.
Such creative collaborations are the norm in fashion and beauty photography, and one could argue that wigs are, too. But to go in the opposite direction, and show a nearly shaved head on a woman known for her hair, is not the norm. “How did they make it look so real?” asked Joe Zee, the editor-in-chief of the forthcoming Yahoo Style who, over decades in the fashion industry, knows a thing or two about retouching and was stumped. “We hired the help of the fantastic SFX professional Jane Choi,” says Turner. “She helped to fit a bald cap on Gisele, which allowed Pascal and Steven Klien to see the actual proportions of Gisele’s head. Then I did the haircut on a stand in model and Pascal, who is also a master retoucher, put the haircut over Gisele’s bald cap in post-production.”
Though he says they never actually considered cutting Bunchen’s hair—“it never even came up in the conversation”—Turner calls Gisele a tremendous sport and says, “Being in the capable hands of Pascal and Steven, she knew the end result would be something quite spectacular.”
Of course, she was also in the hands of a special effects expert, someone who’s whipped up bullet holes for TV shows and turned regular men into monsters, blurring the fading line between film and television, and the world of fashion and beauty advertising. Brands like Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana celebrate new products with short films, and stars use their onscreen makeup artists on press tours, like Jennifer Lawrence did for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire late last year. It might just be a matter of time before designers ditch fashion shows for feature length films, but for now we’re betting on an increasing use of special effects in ads across the board—and taking comfort in the news that Gisele’s hair still exists.
Gisele’s non-haircut, on her Instagram account.