The Chic Updo that Trumped Grunge Hair at NYFW

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Photo: Chic updos at Oscar de la Renta’s Fall 2015 show at New York Fashion Week. Photo by Getty Images

I have some good news and some bad news about the fall 2015 fashion week trends. First the good news: The way you look right now is in. Flushed cheeks from the cold, messy tangled hair, and nude nails are by far the biggest trends I’ve spotted after six days reporting on the top designers backstage. The bad news: There is no glamour or inspiration to drool over on Pinterest.

Nude makeup has been prevalent for a few seasons now—and who can argue with a minimal look that enhances your natural beauty? But I’m feeling underwhelmed by my own messy it’s-been-three-days-since-I’ve-washed-it-so-I’m-keeping-a-beanie-on hair, so it’s hard not to cringe—let alone ooh and ahh—watching the industry’s most admired stylists explain how to recreate tangled, greasy snarls to send down the runway.


Phillip Lim was one of several designers who set deliberately messy, textured hair down the runway at New York Fashion Week. Photo: Getty Images

This season Rodarte’s look was inspired by natural hair textures. Michael Kors wanted his models to look like they rolled out of bed with a loose ponytail. Tommy Hilfiger’s stylists used only water for grooming. Phillip Lim’s models had stringy, messy grunge hair. DKNY’s look was meant to mimic hat hair. Tibi’s style was blasted with spray wax for a “lived-in” vibe. Then on Tuesday I showed up at Oscar de la Renta and saw hair legend Guido Palau and his team of Redken stylists perfecting classic French twists I was shocked. Naturally a brand that exudes sophisticated glamour was not about to hop aboard the messy hair route, but I found this traditional, classic chignon even more rebellions than Alexander Wang’s messy Marilyn Manson-inspired strands simply because it was taking a big risk. Can glamorous hair rise above?


Glamorous updos at Oscar de la Renta’s show on Tuesday. Photo: Getty Images

“I love this idea of this woman who still exists—this beautiful woman who does her hair,” says Palau, who styled the Oscar de la Renta show for the first time. “We often talk about the downtown girl, the kind of easy texture and the sort of coolness and that juxtaposition, but then when you see a woman wearing a beautiful dress and she’s very pulled together.”

OK, but can this fancy uptown hair make a comeback in the midst of this ‘90s grunge hair revival? “I would like to see a shift, because I think we’ve seen that woman quite a lot,” says Palau. “Not that it’s not great and it’s not right and all that, but it’s nice to see lots of different kinds of women. I think people in fashion like to see something that’s…new to our eye. There’s a dichotomy because…you want to tell your readers, ‘you can do it yourself.’ But if you can keep doing it yourself, where does it lead us? Because when we look back on all the great iconic women back in the past, they weren’t always do-it-yourself women, and we reference those women a lot.”

It’s true. Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Veronica Lake—all their iconic hairstyles are not so easy to recreate at home. But nowadays contemporary role models attend red carpet events with their hair down and casual and seemingly effortless.

“It’s kind of a way to make clothes look modern and all that, but if you keep saying that, you’re not really going anywhere. Women might go, ‘Well, I’ve seen that down hair before.” But then [for updos], you’re probably like, how do women do this themselves? I don’t know if everything has to be how do you do it yourself. I think there can be things [for] special occasions that you wear, or just a fantasy that women want. When I got into fashion, the idea was about a fantasy; it really wasn’t about much reality in the ’80s. It was about a fantasy, you had to dream. Now it’s got very like, how do I do it? How do I do it? How do I do it?”

But maybe an intricate style that requires a skill set creates an exciting challenge. “It was really funny, because I was looking at some YouTube videos today of a girl doing her own hair and I felt, ‘my God, some girls can do very technical hairdos now!’ She sectioned it in eight sections and then she pin-curled it and I was like, ‘my God,’ but she was saying it very matter-of-factly. I thought, maybe if you have the desire, you will manage to do it.”

Should you wish to attempt this French twist, Palau has a few tips.

Create some grip. “If you’ve got enough product in the hair, it’s very easy to twist the hair and keep it,” he says. “It’s hard to do it on just clean hair because it kind of slips around.” He used Stay High 18, Redken’s new gel-to-mousse product out in April. “Because of the gel quality in it, it gives me the hold straight away. But it’s also got the lightness of the mousse, so you get the root lift, and the hold at the root, which is where you get the volume.”

Keep it modern. Palau says raking your fingers through the hair will lend an ease to the look, as will adding a shine spray like Diamond Oil High Shine Airy Mist.

Try, try again. If your updo doesn’t look great, take it down and try it again. “You’ll find it easier to get in once the hair has been kind of set. Put it down, and then do it again. It sort of goes in perfectly.”

Don’t overthink it. “It might not be as perfect as this, but a French twist is something that most women could have a go at.”


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