Why Jennifer Lawrence’s Oscars Stumble ‘Was the Greatest Thing to Happen’ to This Hair God

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  • Jennifer Lawrence
    Jennifer Lawrence
    American actress
  • Reese Witherspoon
    Reese Witherspoon
    American actress and producer
  • Mark Lee Townsend
    American musician
Jennifer Lawrence in Dior. (Photo: Getty Images)
Jennifer Lawrence in Dior. (Photo: Getty Images)

Some fashion figures talk in bland corporate-speak during interviews. Let it be shouted from the hairstylist rooftops: Mark Townsend is not one of them.

Here’s his take on that infamous stumble Jennifer Lawrence took in her Dior gown when she won Best Actress at the Oscars in 2013.

“That’s my favorite updo,” Townsend tells Yahoo Style. “Her falling was the greatest thing to happen to me. Thank God that hair is perfect. For her to take that kind of tumble and get up with every hair in place, I felt really proud.”

Falls aside, Townsend has many reasons to be counting his impressive achievements. Only he’s not — he’s the opposite of self-important. When you sign up for a 10-minute interview with Townsend, you wind up gabbing for close to 30, with him doling out advice on how to handle your kid’s lice outbreak. (For those wondering, don’t wash said child’s hair, and be liberal with hair oil.)

He’s also remarkably candid about the many ways his industry has changed over the decades he’s been working on January Jones, Dakota Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Reese Witherspoon.

Penélope Cruz in Ralph Lauren. (Photo: Getty Images)
Penélope Cruz in Ralph Lauren. (Photo: Getty Images)

“My first Oscars red carpet was Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz in 2001,” he says. “It was a much smaller group of people back then. It was a small world that took a lot of hard work to break into. In the year 2007, I did Cate Blanchett, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman on Oscar day. The next year, publicists started saying, ‘No sharing.’ That’s going on and it’s weird.”

Meaning only one top-tier hair and makeup artist per celebrity. Which, as you might imagine, makes logistics pretty complicated when certain stars trust only certain artists. Not to mention, that doesn’t make much sense in this age of micro-attention, in which everything must be flawless and taking a chance on someone you don’t know, on the biggest night in your industry, is dicey at best. Now actresses have cameras in their faces the second they exit their vehicles. There’s no time to even hoist up a dress or pat down a shiny forehead.

“On the red carpet, they have to be photographed from all angles; there’s no hiding anything,” Townsend says. “We’re in the world of HD now. It’s become a little homogenized. I miss the risk takers. Actors need to mix up their look as much as possible. Red carpets are the new castings. I know directors and producers look at the red carpet to see if someone can play older or younger.”

And Townsend shares the common lament of fashion editors, who laud Céline Dion and that backward Christian Dior tuxedo from 1999 for at least being notable and different. “Where’s Cher in the Bob Mackie headpiece? Look at what she was wearing,” he says.

The red carpet has become big business, with most A-listers refusing to work with a design house unless it can guarantee that they’re the only one wearing that brand. Which rather limits things for everyone else. But when it works — it just works.

Reese Witherspoon in Nina Ricci. (Photo: Getty Images)
Reese Witherspoon in Nina Ricci. (Photo: Getty Images)

“When you get that one great moment: Google ‘Reese Witherspoon hair’ and you get that Golden Globes moment in that yellow dress,” says Townsend of the actress’s 2007 cocktail dress by Nina Ricci, with tresses that were healthy and shiny and the epitome of California ease.

This year Townsend is working with longtime muse Dakota Johnson. “It’s a supereasy year for me. It’s a dream year for me,” he says.

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Oscar Burning Question: Does Bling Ever Go Missing?

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