By Julie Earle-Levine
Financial Times; Apr 2005
Gwyneth Paltrow once famously announced that straightening her hair made her more confident, claiming: "If I have straight hair, I feel like half my outfit battle is over."
But that was before marriage and baby, and to see her now is to see a vision of beatific, almost hippie, Raphael waviness. Indeed, dead straight hair, or as some stylists put it "flat, anorexic hair", has not been seen on the runways or fashion magazines for some time. But is it really time to declare it over? Are our locks loosening up along with our looks?
In New York women are asking for anything but pin-straight hair, according to Spresa Bojkovic, who owns the Damian West salon in Greenwich Village. "They want va-voom, lots of shine and rich-looking waves."
Kelly Reynolds, a New York recruiter for an international real estate company, however, is not one of those women. Reynolds is in her mid-20s and has straightened her hair "forever".
"I have curly hair," she says. "Straight just looks more professional."
Linda Vogel, vice-president and general counsel for Aerosoles, the shoe company, is also staying straight. "The biggest reason for me to go straight is that it is a time saver," she says, noting she prefers to use a Japanese straightening treatment in which the hair stays straight for several months. "I don't have to worry if it is humid about leaving one way and arriving at a meeting with it looking totally different."
Hiro Haraguchi, a New York hair stylist to designer Vera Wang, acknowledges some business women are still asking for pin-straight hair but says it suits very few of them. "For someone with a small, long face or small head, straight hair is a Don't, and I will tell them that." Instead, Haraguchi suggests women get layers around the face and a style that can be easily maintained.
"We are not encouraging straight hair at all," agrees Ian Florey, a senior stylist at Charles Worthington's Mayfair salon in the Dorchester Hotel. He suggests blow drying hair straight then using tongs to achieve "a Sienna Miller" look. (Miller gets her hair done at their Percy Street salon). "We don't want frizz or old fashioned. Soft curl can still look edgy."
Michael Gordon, the British hairdresser and founder and owner of Bumble and Bumble, the New York based hair product company and salon, believes ironed-out straight hair became a "suburban thing" that people had to have. "Let's just say it is very unnatural to have hair so straight it is like curtains," he notes.
Gordon prefers waves and chignons to create "a combination of elegance and texture", and is predicting a return to 1920s style bobs. "Like anything, hair goes through cycles and I think it will soon be about hair with volume and hair that moves."
David John, a stylist at Fred Segal Beauty in Santa Monica, also says that while some women were still asking for straight, blown-out hair, many had embraced curlier, more glamorous hair. "At the Golden Globes everyone was wearing full, soft and natural hair." And, like Gordon, John also believes bobs are the next new thing, along with cleaner, geometric cuts.
In this they are supported by Paul Windle from the Windle Salon in London's Covent Garden, who says straight hair, or "old footballers' wives' hair" is over, and Louise Brooks-style bobs are in.
Curls are also back in style, but messier. "Don't ruin the texture of curly hair by trying to straighten it," says Windle. "Just let it dry naturally while running your fingers through it."
"Stylistically, big hair is officially dead," says Gordon. "Please write an epilogue."
But perhaps a woman should have the last word. According to one Wall Street lawyer she would never go to a client meeting with her hair naturally wavy. "Straight hair, regrettably, will always look sharp, clean and polished and there is nothing we can do to change that."
© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd