The New Short Hair
Is a chic crop the latest age-defying look? By Alessandra Codinha.
Hair is never just hair. Hair is time – spent grooming, treating, glossing, highlighting, arranging, with the occasional tuck behind the ears, up in an elastic, or an elaborate orchestration with a variety of combs, clips, and pins. (And so it would follow that hair is also money.) We have a relationship with our hair – and it’s tied up in our sense of self, of femininity, of security: the battleground of weepy, bad salon experiences, and the promise of esteem-altering revelations. Short hair requires an initial strategy and longterm execution – very short hair requires a certain steeling of the will. The proposition is a gamble, and the stakes are as high as your self-regard. Which is why it bears particular interest that some women of an age when convention would have them settled into sensible below-the-ear and above-the-shoulder coifs are cropping up with altogether more radical short cuts – and to sensational effect.
Chin-length, choppy bobs have been adding “edge” and elongating the necks of catwalkers such as Arizona Muse, Daria Werbowy, and Karlie Kloss for several seasons now. But the latest iteration of the short cut is something else entirely, echoing the style of a New Wave Jean Seberg, a Warhol It girl Edie Sedgwick, and a late-’80s game-changing Linda Evangelista.
French sylph Vanessa Paradis, age 41, was spotted early this year with a halo of closely shorn chestnut curls (setting tabloid tongues a-wagging when the timing coincided with rumours of her former partner Johnny Depp’s engagement). Valentino designer Maria Grazia Chiuri turned heads in January when she took her bow at the house’s couture show sporting a sleekly gamine cut in the manner of Mia Farrow, circa Rosemary’s Baby. And 39-year-old Garance Doré debuted her own androgynous ’do with an extensive post on her blog titled Le Chop, replete with a video of her shimmying ecstatically: a woman freed by follicular lightness. “I was just ready for a change,” Doré says, adding that she spent years attempting to tame “the wild beast on top of my head” – her unruly curls. “I sent an e-mail to around 15 friends asking, ‘Should I do this?’” she shares, and all but one said no. “I think everyone should cut their hair short at least once,” she adds (she got her cut at New York’s Drawing Room). “It gives you a glimpse of another person that you could be. If you never do it, you’ll always wonder.”
Hairstylist Pasquale Ferrante (who recently turned Hilary Rhoda’s Sports
Illustrated tresses into a Beyoncé-inspired angled bob) is primed for the trend. “You have to be a little brave, yes,” notes Ferrante of the crop, “and it has to fit with your personality. It’s sort of psychological. It has to feel natural to you to look its best,” he adds. “You must know the texture of your hair, and you must know that it works with your style.” But that said? “Oh, I love it!” he gasps. “Love it.” With the new short hair, professional help is encouraged. “You need to be careful with very short hair, especially after a certain age,” warns hair maestro Guido Palau. “You need to know what you’re doing.” Short hair done wrong signifies defeat, or, worse, ‘Mum hair’ – a certain willingness to fade into the background. Short hair done right suggests confidence, great bone structure, and what elegantly cropped writer Joan Juliet Buck once dubbed ‘subtraction as style’.”
There’s an air of chic rebellion to the new crop: a pareddown minimalism. (Not to mention a sudden reliance on lipstick and feminine silhouettes.) “I’m married, I have three kids, I’m over 40 now, and it’s just a really nice thing – you’re released from a lot of pressures. It’s my hair; I did it for me,” Jessica Seinfeld says of the pixie style she received at the hands of long-time stylist Rheanne White. And while Seinfeld’s husband loves it, “I do occasionally catch myself in the mirror and realise I look like my son,” she admits. The chop isn’t about relinquishing vanity, says Doré, as time gained from less hair to groom adds up in other departments ( make-up, wardrobe). The real appeal lies in the leap itself – opting to undertake a radical change at a point when most people assume you’re beyond new tricks. “Long hair can weigh you down sometimes, and also everybody has it,” says White, and the stylist famously took Lena Dunham to an Audrey Hepburn-esque length. “These short cuts make you look younger somehow. It just opens everything up. It’s a style for strong women who have guts, who want to experiment. That’s the beautiful thing about hair: it grows.”