Monday, July 28, 2014


Sometimes it’s good to look back in order to move forward, so I’m turning the disco ball back on for more style time traveling.  Cue the theme song from The Valley of the Dolls:   Gotta get off, got to get off this merry-go-round….

Jane Fonda: Barbarella & Klute

It’s the 1960’s, the beginning of the sexual revolution, and hair was going BIG and HIGH, like on sex kittens Sharon Tate and the inimitable Brigitte Bardot.  But just like in all revolutions, there’s counter revolution in the streets, which happened one day in a salon in London when Vidal Sassoon took a pair of shears to Twiggy’s long hair, and the structural cut was born.  

Jane Fonda transformed her space nymph Barbarella bouffant into the iconic Klute shag in 1971, the model of cut and structure.   Hair became flatter to the head, and we were blow drying at home, not going to the salon for sets anymore.  

Patty Hanson, Rosie Vela

The poster child of 70’s hair was, of course, Farrah Fawcett.  Her hair cut was such a phenomenon that it got its own zip code!  EVERYBODY wanted those loose, easy breezy waves.  It was the definitive, All American style.  Back when I began working at a salon in Montreal, everyone came in wanting Charlie’s Angels hair!   In the 80’s, hair became inflated again, just like our economy, getting as big and poufy as a LaCroix skirt or Nancy Reagan’s party budget.  Super models were not rolling out of bed for less than ten grand, and the Cosmo cover was the benchmark of beauty…think Way Bandy makeup and the super-sized hair of such perfect creatures as Rene Russo and Rosie Vela.   Hair was a cascade of curls, or an iteration of the shag, with lots and lots of layers that were “juzuged”…. blown under with lots of height at the top. 

Of course the 90’s was all about Jennifer Aniston’s “Rachel”, her face-framing layered cut for her TV character.  It was fun, down to earth and Friendly, which was what everybody needed to calm their 1999 jitters.   Then Madonna ushered in the new millennium with the age of the chameleon, the person who uses all the looks from the past and combines it with the power of new technology to transform themselves every day----hello Lady Gaga!  She is Madonna on steroids.    

When I think about how far we’ve come since 1920 with what we can do, from hair extensions to Brazilian straightening to at-home hair color, the sky is the limit, and that’s what we’ve been seeing.  Think of Beyonce, transforming herself for every performance and persona.  Of course, there’s always the hold-out, the person who changes and inspires by not changing at all, and today that would be the Duchess of Cambridge, the former Kate Middleton.  

So when someone asks me what their next hair style should be, I ask who do you want to be? Take a look at all the timeless beauties and transform yourself and your style.  “Beauty is where you find it!”


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.

Greta Garbo
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.   

Veronica Lake
Lauren Bacall
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.
Liz Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren

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, Rita Hayward, 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!