Monday, July 28, 2014


My job as a hair stylist is to help women find the perfect hair for their lifestyle.  One of the ways I do this, almost without thinking, is to put everything in perspective from the standpoint of time.  Before I can determine where we are going with a style, I have to think about where we have been.   So for this, I’d like to switch on the disco ball time machine and quickly travel back through the hair revolution of the past 100 years.  If you want, dial up Vogue by Madonna on your iPod for a bit of inspiration:  Greta Garbo and Monroe, Deitrich and DiMaggio….

Louise Brooks

For centuries, women were consigned to having long, heavy tresses, but from 1920 onward, women have freed themselves from this burden, to the point where women now can do anything they want with their hair, as long as they are happy with it.   The first milestone was the bob in the 1920’s.  It was the flapper era, a time when the attitude was “the devil may care,” and Louise Brooks was its “It Girl.” Her iconic cut still is worn today by heavy-hitter influencers like American Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour, and not only because it is short, straight and edgy, but because it is also androgynous, empowering women to feel strong and take charge of their own lives.

Lauren Bacall

Then came the Crash of 1929, leading into the Great Depression of the 1930’s.  This was when the old adage, “the harder the times, the softer the hair,” really came to fruition.   Women started to escape the difficulties in their own lives by taking sanctuary in the cinema, where screen sirens such as Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow prowled, growing out their bobs into soft, face-framing curls.   

From the frying pan into the fire, we then went into the 1940’s and World War II.  Women didn’t have time or money to go to the salon, so their hair began to grow, but goddesses like Rita Hayworth in Gilda and Veronica Lake kept it soft and sultry with heartbreaker waves, a trend that enabled the transformations of Norma Jean into Marilyn and Betty Joan Perske into Lauren Bacall.  By the 50’s, women were back in business and back to the salon, cutting their hair again, but for a sexy, seductress effect.   Think Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 (Only Liz could play a prostitute and still look like a million!) and the brick house bombshells that were Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida.  

Veronica Lake, Sophia Loren, Liz Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida

They came on so strong that no man could resist!   All of these women had so much influence on those who came after them, and still do today, so we will continue our journey, then come back to the future in my next blog. For now, fade out Madonna:  They had style, they had grace, Rita Hayworth gave good face.  Lauren, Katherine, Lana too, Bette Davis, we love you!

Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis

Friday, July 25, 2014

Fashion Is Not Beauty: You Are Who You See

We all look around to find style inspiration.  One of my peeves is when I see a woman wearing makeup and nail polish that is in fashion, but that isn’t flattering to her skin type and tone.  It’s so important to remember that fashion is not beauty.  You take fashion on and off, but a great haircut and makeup style is your signature, and should always suit your lifestyle.  It’s fun to follow fashion, but what you see coming down the catwalk isn’t necessarily right for the sidewalk.  
Take Kim Kardashian for example.  She’s a gorgeous woman, but generally she’s gone too far for real life. She’s always in full throttle runway fashion and makeup, which would be okay if she was doing a cover shoot, but mostly she’s at home with her sisters.   There’s nothing about her that looks right for every day.  
You have to take your inspiration and translate it for real life, and for that, you have to think modern classic.  Some women who have nailed this would be Charlize Theron, one of my all-time favorites.  She’s always got her hair and makeup just right for the occasion, and it’s always age appropriate.  Another is Jennifer Lawrence, a young girl who isn’t afraid to try new things, such as with her new short haircut, but always looks pretty, and pretty goes a long way. 

You are who you watch: if you fill your mind with images from crass reality shows, it sinks into your DNA, and your style suffers for it.   You should fill your style diet with better inspirations, such Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.  They don’t fit into the classic equation of beauty, but they created a style for themselves that was both beautiful and stylish.  Marilyn did it with illusion, by becoming what I call a fabulous fake, and her legacy still inspires us today.  Audrey Hepburn, on the other hand, became beautiful with instinct and grace.  She focused on her strengths, such as her amazing brows and bone structure, and always kept herself demure, with low heels and just the right fit of clothes.  She called it attainable beauty, but I say she invented the word style.  

That’s because she knew that beauty was balance and harmony; that what makes someone beautiful emanates from the inside as well.  Her beauty and style was informed by her life. She was a woman who survived World War II then devoted herself to giving back by becoming an ambassador for the U.N. to bring relief to drought-ridden Ethiopia. 

So before you gawk at the celebrities with purple hair and tattoos that look like a bar code from the supermarket, remember that what you take in gets mirrored out from your eyes to create your own persona.  You are who you see! 

Monday, June 30, 2014

The “I” Has to Travel: Style Inspiration from the South of France

This past week I was fortunate enough to attend the destination wedding of my godson (Felix) in a gorgeously restored 16th century chateau in the South of France.  While the journey there and back had its ups and downs, the actual event, and some side excursions, certainly was food for my soul.  Here’s three takeaways I brought back with me.

1:  It’s Great to Glam Up Every Now and Then:  Everything about the wedding was perfection: the impeccable chateau, the grounds and gardens.  There were about 100 guests, all in black tie and full length gowns.  The bride and groom were flawless---just look at the bride’s chic and understated hair and gown!  A red carpet stretched across the lawns to the ceremony and then reception was held in the garden, with champagne flowing all night.  I was honored to be seated next to one of my all-time heroes, the legendary hairstylist Jean Louis David!  We whiled away the night talking about all the iconic photographers and editors at Vogue.   There is so much to learn from this man’s life and philosophy, which I hope to share one day.

2:  Aspire, Inspire:  While I was seduced by all the trappings of wealth, I realized that much of what I saw, from the architecture and designs to the clothing and furniture, could all be acquired for less money with a little ingenuity.   From the chic restaurants and hotels in Saint Tropez and all along the Cote d’Azur, where Brigitte Bardot and Alain Delon used to hobnob, to the inspiration of the colors and vibrancy on the streets, you don’t have to spend a fortune to look like a billionaire.   I like to call it “trickle up effect.”  You use your impressions and inspirations to aspire higher, but without breaking the bank.  

3.  The Best Things in Life Are Free:  Traveling on to Nice was so inspiring.  It gives you a new perspective after spending time in such luxury to pass through the fields of lavender and visit grottos of wild rosemary, to see the tall cedars lining the vineyards.  The sights and the smells were so soothing to the soul and a reminder that we cannot take anything for granted.  I mean, Nice is nice, but you become very sensitive to the real community, the workers who serve all those who are passing through.  

After all, that’s what we all are doing as we travel to our destinations, just traveling on a road to a higher consciousness while serving our fellow travelers.  Just please let me walk the road in Louboutins! 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


We all dream of having a haircut that can change from moment to moment, that can be sleek and chic for day, then tousled and deconstructed for night, letting us shift from one vibe to another, depending on the occasion or mood.   That’s why my favorite new cuts are the new long gamines we are seeing on the red carpet. I like to call them shape shifters, because when they are cut correctly, they can affect your entire presence, and that is when a haircut is most empowering.  

The best example?  Jennifer Lawrence’s latest cut, which can go from sleek, chic, slicked-back hair to messy, tousled tomboy bangs the next.   It’s really a new iteration of the Jean Seberg and Audrey Hepburn pixie that is short and tapered to the nape but leaves the front long and sexy.  I think the gamine look gets its allure from the dichotomy between the masculine and feminine in the cut, drawing on the strengths of both sexes.  

Some other examples of great cuts would be Charlize Theron, Julianne Hough, and Robin Penn Wright, all attractive women who have broken out of the mold of standard sex symbolism.  Their looks are both powerful and seductive.  And because the new short cut is androgynous, it’s a style that men can wear as well, to get a more poetic look, with hair long in the front and tapered to the nape. 

I know it can be counter-intuitive to think that it’s sexier to have short hair in the back.  One of the biggest mistakes is when a woman tells me I can cut the front short, but  leave the length in the back.   I mean, hello mullet!    The front of the hair is where the real action is.  A good stylist will know just where to cut to accentuate the jawline, the cheekbones, the brows and the eyes.  And a longer length up front will give you lots of play room, to wear it with more volume, or sleek or higher up top, even peekabooing behind the ears just enough to give the illusion of length. 

But here’s the real secret:  shorter hair at the nape reveals some of the most potent yet discreet erogenous zones: the back of the neck, the ears and the collarbones.  The geisha have known this for centuries.  They considers the nape the most erotic area of the body.  Now that’s really bringing sexy back.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Charles James dress
Charles James dress
I’ve been looking at all the red carpet images of the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute Ball this week, taking in all the amazing dresses, hair and makeup.  It was brilliant of the Metropolitan to pay homage to Charles James, America’s first couturier.  Yet, the dresses that the celebrities wore in homage to Mr. James, while beautiful, paled in comparison to his genius at construction, something we may never see again.  And it’s the same with the incomparable Diana Vreeland. I think the next Met Ball theme should pay homage to her, America’s first true fashion editor, and the woman who single-handedly revolutionized fashion, art and the Met Ball itself.  There will never be anyone like her. 

Everything she did was groundbreaking.   She recognized that it was the woman who made the clothes.  “A new dress doesn’t get you anywhere.  It’s the life you live in the dress.” She put Cher and Barbra Streisand on the cover of Vogue because they were unusual.  “The strong face comes not only from bone structure but from inner thinking,” she said.  She discovered Lauren Bacall and Veruschka.  She shot a model in the first bikini.  When her editors were afraid to print the photographs she told them “An attitude like that will hold fashion back for a thousand years”.  It’s still remarkable how ahead of the curve she was…I think we still haven’t caught up with her ideas.

Her genius, I believe, rested in the fact that she worked purely by instinct, not by education or research. For example, I love the story about the creation of the Marie Antoinette mannequin for her French Renaissance exhibit in the amazing film, The Eye Has To Travel.   At first, the artist making the installation made the wig huge, but to scale.  Vreeland wasn’t happy.  She said it was “very expected.”  He went back, and made the wig rise up to the ceiling.  “Mmmmmm!” she said happily.  “Now she is ready for the guillotine!”  She insisted that the reactions to her images or exhibits be visceral.  She wanted them to be wondered over like a child.    “You're not supposed to give the people what they want,” she once said.  “Give them what they don't know they want yet.”
That came from really having a mission.  Her vision came from a pure place.   She saw authenticity and beauty came from the core, not the surface, an idea that has resonated with me my whole life. And she took risks.  No one takes risks in fashion or media today like she did, and she proved that you have to push the envelope to move forward and grow.   You can’t be so afraid of failure that you don’t aim high.

So I think the next Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute exhibit should pay homage to woman who created it, to fully express the nuances of her life and the scope of her influence in fashion and culture.  It would be a guidebook on how to live a joyful, fulfilled life by taking chances.   “You have to create the life you want to live,” she once said to Truman Capote, and I couldn’t agree more.   Why shoot for the moon when you can have the stars? 

Friday, May 2, 2014


Talk about transformation!  Earlier this week in Decorum Head I talked about how my friend Darrin grew out his hair for a film role and into a new life.   On the other side of the coin is the transformational haircut.  This is when you take a leap of faith with your hairstylist and try something completely new, and in doing so, gain a whole new look and outlook on life.  Such is the case with my good friend Jane Seymour.  I was so happy to spend the day with her yesterday as I prepped her hair for her appearance on Katie.   

Styling Jane Seymour
Last year, she allowed me to cut the front of her gorgeous hair into bangs, and yesterday, I could really see how it has become a great asset to her looks and her life. 

Jane Seymour hair transformation
Jane has always been open to taking risks and accepting change, like a radical haircut.  Yesterday, she spoke with Katie Couric about her book, The Wave, explaining that she wrote it to help people open their hearts and realize that change, while it can be painful, can actually be wonderful as well.   And she walks the talk!  Jane always has had the most gorgeous head of hair, the kind every woman dreams of having, but she had been caught in a cycle of using hot tools and teasing to create voluminous waves pushed off the front of her face for many years.  All of this had taken its toll on her long, fine hair.  A year ago, she was on a two-day press junket, and made the first day’s appearances with her usual hair style.  The following morning, I met her at her hotel to prep her for that days schedule with an agenda:  I had a strong feeling that it was time for a change, and I came armed with a photo of the iconic Jane Birkin to see if I could persuade her to let me give her bangs.  Funnily enough, she had been thinking she needed a change the night before as well, so we were on the same page.  She agreed, knowing she’d have to face a full day of more TV appearances.  The woman has guts!

It worked so well for her, right from the start.  At home, she can literally just wash and comb her hair into place and let it dry.  For special appearances, like yesterday, we can just blow dry it into place, no teasing or curling irons!  It’s freed her from having to do so much to it, and it’s a lot healthier as well. 
On set at the Katie Show
Katie Couric could not stop gawking at Jane yesterday on her show and not because she “looks good for her age” (one of my least favorite phrases); because she looks amazing, period.   And she deserves it.  She makes good choices with her diet, her exercise, her habits and her life, and it shows.  She is my inspiration for embracing change.  Who’s yours? 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


“All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”  William Shakespeare, As You Like It.  These words were repeated over and over in my mind this past year as I worked with a brilliant young actor friend to prepare for his role as Twiggz in the Indie film, Tucht, scheduled for release Summer, 2015.

Darrin Hickok and I became good friends a few years ago when he worked as my physical trainer, and about a year ago, he let me know he wanted to grow out his hair for an important role he had just landed (without a reel, which goes to show how talented he is).  He was told to perhaps wear a wig, because production was due to start.  His hair at that time was short and spiky, as you can see in the first photo.  But the film, based on the lives of 8 people involved in the cycle of abuse and violence, was so realistic and gritty, he wanted his physicality to be as authentic as possible. Darrin wanted long and strong-looking hair to complement his character of a man, abused as a child, who becomes a flamboyant yet strong gay adult.   Luckily, production was delayed for almost a year, giving him an opportunity to get his hair into shape as he internally worked on preparing for his role.
This is a symbiotic relationship, as any actor can tell you.  Think of Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, or Charlize Theron in Monster, or anything by Daniel Day Lewis,  all great actors that use their physicality, their hair, makeup, voice and body to evolve and channel the character they are portraying. Darrin’s transformation, which you can see here, was amazing and brilliant, just like his performance. 

Darrin Hickok Hair Shaping Phase

Whether you are a man or a woman, growing out your hair can be a painful process.  When the starting point is short and layered, you can’t just let it go. You have to shape it continually to make the process less awkward looking.  Darrin came to see me three times at first, so that I could allow the shortest top layers to start to grow, while evening out the back and sides.  Here’s a picture of his third visit.  You can see it’s really getting into shape as he is transforming more and more into his character.  By this stage, he was ready to let it just grow.  It was several months until I saw him again this weekend.  By now, his hair had completely grown out, but needed a shaping.  It was also acting very curly and unruly, forcing him to pull it back into a ponytail for most of the day.  I first gave him some highlights, to strengthen his hair color and give him a surfer look, then did a keratin straightening to help keep his hair smooth and under control.  Then, I gave him a trim to freshen and add movement.  The final result?  A real lion’s mane, which will look like this right out of the shower, something that really works with his Leo personality.   To give it polish, I gave him John Masters Organics Hair Pomade, which he can rake through the hair after it’s dry to keep its shape.

I’m sure this role is just the beginning of Darrin’s brilliant career, which he is now facing with new strength of achievement, and is reflected in his powerful look.  As the Bard says, “They all have their exits and entrances, and every man in his time plays many parts.”  Word.