Tuesday, May 27, 2014

THE SHAPE SHIFTERS: THE NEW GAMINE CUTS BRING SEXY BACK

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

THE MET BALL’S EYE HAS TO TRAVEL



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

FRINGE BENEFITS:


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?