Working backstage at Fashion Week is a dream come true for a hair stylist. I am fortunate enough to have worked my tenth season and the excitement hasn’t faded. For Spring/Summer 2012, like every other season, I packed my suitcase to the brim with curling irons, crimpers and a surplus of pins and headed off to New York City. This season I styled hair for Betsey Johnson, Academy of Art University,Kahri, Christian Siriano, and Jen Kao.
All of the shows were fantastic, but the one that best captured the excitement of New York Fashion Week was Betsey Johnson’s show. More than just a fashion show, Betsey throws a decked-out party replete with DJ, champagne, and pink hair extension party favors. Hip-hop and R&B artist Nicki Minaj inspired her Spring collection which celebrated voluptuous women.
Traditionally, Betsey chooses a theme for her shows and this season it was “T and A.” This inspired renowned editorial hair stylist, Peter Gray, to look back in time for the embodiment of the true woman. Ultimately, he chose a modern version of Jerry Hall’s iconic mane for the hair looks. Hair was smoothed back on the left side into a tight, low asymmetric ponytail covered by a cascade of dramatic waves on the right side. The first to don this look on the runway was Betsey’s own beautiful, buxom daughter and muse, Lulu. Finishing the show was a parade of scantily clad beauties carrying silver foil “T” and “A” balloons followed by Betsey’s signature cartwheel.
I also styled the San Francisco-based Academy of Art University show, which is the only fashion school to showcase its students’ work at NYC Fashion Week. The school spares no expense for its showcase; selecting top models, expert hair and makeup leads and prime locale – Lincoln Center tents alongside top designers in the industry. Juut alumnus Jon Reyman lead this show which consisted of smooth straight hair subdivided by a pronounced ‘C’ shaped side-parting from right to left that appeared in both the boys’ and girls’ coifs. On the girls, the front section was smoothed back into a hair headband with the remaining hair falling forward to create a sleek, half-up style.
By the time we sent the models to be dressed for “first looks,” we were off to 1OAK – a high-end nightclub and celebrity haunt in the Meatpacking District. 1OAK was the place to be for Kahri’s late night runway show and after-party. Dennis Clendennen, an Aveda education team pal, lead the hair in the club’s dimly lit basement. The hairstyles— youthful zulu knot-esque twists fashioned into asymmetrical pigtail buns — were taken from Kahri’s lookbook and perfectly suited her edgy, rocker fashions that were inspired by the 70s female rock band Heart and their song “Barracuda.”
The following morning, I traded night club for design studio, Eyebeam Art +Technology Center, where former Project Runway Star and designer, Christian Siriano’s show was held. A common theme for Spring 2012 is grunge, but Siriano didn’t design around the popular 90s throwback for his collection. Instead, he opted for beautiful, vibrant evening gowns all inspired by … sea creatures! However, the era did make a subtle appearance in the hairstyles showcased. Antoinette Beenders, creative director for Aveda, used Control Force, Pure Abundance Volumizing Hair Potion, and the Curl Rod iron to design hairstyles that were a modern version of a 90s care-free beachy wave with more polish for a smart, yet youthful look.
Gorgeous hair and makeup abounded, but what was more impressive was Aveda’s commitment to green practices backstage, including the elimination of fur, the replacement of bottled water with tap water + refillable containers, using a minimum of 20% post-consumer recycled paper for invites + programs, and serving organic, locally sourced food for staff and models.
Perhaps the most eccentric of the week’s designers was Jen Kao. She drew from Asian-Hawaiian influences and random pop-cultural inspirations such as Leonardo DiCaprio from Romeo and Juliet and the kitschy, yet cool costuming in Tank Girl. Kao teamed with Paper-Cut-Project designers to create origami-like headpieces, which shrouded some of the side knot ponytails with cascading ends, created by Gray. The sides of each hairstyle were embellished with tiny braids interlaced with brightly colored embroidery thread to accentuate the sunny pastels in Kao’s color palette.
From working with a fashion legend to styling for future design stars, this was a fashion week for the books. From wearable styles like sleek hair headbands and beachy waves to fashion-forward top knots, twist buns and high-glamour curls, I left New York inspired with a whole slew of new techniques and a glimpse into fashion’s future. I can’t wait to bring the runway to reality!
NYC Fashion Week author, Jen Hughes, is a Master Stylist at our Downtown location who has been in the game since 1996. With a down-to-earth manner and meticulous skill, she uses fashion, music, and pop culture history to create aspirational, yet wearable styles that suit her guest’s lifestyle, face shape and hair texture. Jen specializes in modern and classic women’s haircuts, men’s hair, runway, editorial, wedding and special occasion styles. Learn more by following Jen on Twitter (@jen_hughes) or by checking out her profile page.
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