PHOTOGRAPHY SARAH DOYLE STYLIST CATHERINE CONDELL FASHION EDITED BY CONSTANCE HARRIS
Hair is a deeply emotional issue. Most of us see ourselves in a mirror at least once a day and register our appearance. Often, our hair will be the biggest influence on how good we feel we look.
Hair is made up of dead cells. Its quality depends on age, genes, diet, health and stress levels. Some of these you can do something about. But a lot of them, you can’t. A lack of luscious hair leads men to go through the painful implant process and women to spend small fortunes on colour and synthetic hair extensions, which are often far from perfect, looking markedly different, frizzing when washed, discolouring and even breaking the natural hair to which they are bonded.
Many women with a need for hair extensions — those with thinning hair, post-medical treatment, or with short hair who want to go long — hate the feel and look of synthetic hair extensions and suffer on.
An entrepreneur and inventor, David Gold works in the fashion business. In 1991, David, the son of the late Paul Goldin, invented a bond system for fabrics, which was used in the hosiery industry. He then devised a keratin-bond system that could fuse human hair to itself. Next he launched Great Lengths, an ethically sourced human-hair extensions company. Great Lengths buys the hair from temples in India, where Hindu women offer it as an act of devotion (tonsuring). The temples sell the hair to raise money for their communities. The hair is then taken to Italy, where it is very gently processed to achieve its colour.
Great Lengths is a global success story. David Gold’s sister, Katie-Jane, is the CEO of Great Lengths, and runs The Paul Goldin Clinic.
Though Irish celebs such as Roz Purcell, Rosanna Davison and Kathryn Thomas, as well as stars such as Hilary Duff and Selena Gomez all have them, ordinary women who just want to have a nice, thick head of hair again seem to get the most pleasure out of having Great Lengths hair extensions.
There are now 86 salons in Ireland offering Great Lengths extensions. The cost varies. Short hair, requiring just a little volume, can be about €200-300, while a ‘mermaid’ hairdo could cost over €1,000. The hair will last about five months and the process allows your hair to grow without breakages and splitting.
Subconsciously, hair is symbolic of age and vitality. Is it such a huge investment for something you ‘wear’ every day?
We asked some of Ireland’s best-known women to model their Great Lengths extensions and to reveal what makes them happy.