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Non-Hair Is Apparently The Beauty Trend Of The Moment

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Photo: MCV Photo.
Fashion Week is almost upon us, which means it's the perfect time to revisit what we saw last season. At least, that's what T: The New York Times Style Magazine is doing in its forthcoming issue, which hits stands on February 15. Tucked inside the beauty pages is a story cleverly titled "Meh Head," which explains how "non-hair" is the next big thing. Here's an excerpt:

Adjectiveless in color, lank and complete with flyaways, non-hair appeared again and again: not 'chocolate,' not 'chestnut,' not bluntly cut nor superlative in length. This was passive-agressive hair, proof that the head from which it came looked enviable without any help at all.

Sound confusing? Well, that's because it is. Basically, "non-hair" is sort of like the no-makeup trend we saw on the runways at Proenza Schouler and Marc Jacobs. The pros backstage at those shows relied on moisturizer, eye cream, and pretty much nothing else. It was, as many a commenter pointed out last season, a middle finger of sorts: The girls were so seemingly poreless, so blemish-free, that they didn't require any help. It's a luxury reserved for the genetically blessed and, well, the ultra-rich, who can afford the upkeep that comes with a low-maintenance daily routine.

It turns out that's the point. Jimmy Paul, editorial stylist for Bumble and bumble, told T that non-hair is "a status symbol," explaining that the women who pull it off "do nothing to their hair, but the clothes are right, the shoes are right, they're fit, [and] their skin is beautiful." 

All of this, of course, equates to pricey salon haircuts that don't require much maintenance as they grow out. And, as the writer explicitly points out, this is not a trend for anyone with textured or curly hair. Or, at least, fashion hasn't found a way to apply the concept of "non-hair" to anyone who doesn't happen to have long, straight-to-wavy strands, which makes a very precarious statement about how the industry defines effortless beauty, or who's invited to lay claim to this sort of "status symbol." 

Instead, the article points to the "endlessly Instagrammed Jane Birkin (and her daughters, Lou Doillon and Charlotte Gainsbourg)." Birkin, after all, "had the luxury of being not only rich and rail-thin, but also of looking intoxicatingly good without either makeup or bras." And, of course, her hair was long, straight, and fringed. 

To be perfectly fair, there will be many a woman who will relish in this concept of "non-hair," excited that wash-and-go has replaced the heavily styled or overly bleached strands dominating runways last year. There's joy — perhaps, even liberation — to be found in a more relaxed and easier approach to the select few who have that right cut or that born-with-it color.

Photo: Courtesy of Shiseido.
But, still, there will be many more women who'll feel like this is yet another example of fashion carelessly preaching about "good hair," while completely overlooking the fact that, unlike the clothes we coordinate, the shoes we lust after and purchase, or even the jewelry we clasp, hook, and pin into place, we don't choose the hair we're born with. And, that hair does not — or, rather should not — dictate our status. 

We editors attended many shows where the hair inspiration was reportedly "just the girls as they are" or "the girls at the casting," only to turn around and see the steam rising from multiple flat irons clamping the singular head of curls in the lineup. The only backstage appointment I've attended in recent memory where texture was even remotely considered was at the Tess Giberson show (pictured). There, the inspiration for the clothes was Palm Springs in the '70s. "I'm not interested in yesterday's look," said Living Proof hairstylist Ward Stegerhoek backstage. "We want hair that's today...that's forward, rather than a take on retro." 

His version of "non-hair" was loading up the models' manes with salt spray, rough-drying so they get "luxurious, amplified, and beautiful," and then tying them into easy side-ponies. The look was not at all precious or over-thought. Stegerhoek skipped the elastic for one model, who had an Afro, choosing instead to blow it out to larger proportions. She was not an exception to his aesthetic — she was just one interpretation of it. (She was also one of just three non-white women in the entire show.)

Regardless, it was a subtle reminder that hair should be about possibility — and beauty, with all of its miracle lotions, potions, tinctures, and tools, should be about providing options. Some might call it "aspirational" to channel the legend of Jane Birkin and her "effortless" mane, but therein lies the damage: Aspirations are not one-size-fits-all.

"The trick to achieving non-hair, apart from lucky genetics and/or a good stylist, is using minimal product to add weight but not grease," the article concludes. "Lucky" according to who?  [T]
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