Magazine Hair

Magazine Hair

Kelly Atterton explains what makes an avant-garde look work.

If young Hollywood has taught us anything, it's that being wild might turn heads, but it sure ain't always pretty. That said, an avant-garde hairstyle--much like those on this episode's challenge--has to be more than merely outrageous to make me swoon. It's got to be sophisticated, and offer something bigger than some sort of visual stunt. It's got to complement the clothing and work with the makeup. Oh, and I should notice the woman, too.

Whoever ultimately wins the title of Shear Genius won't always be forced to approach hairstyling as an exercise in theatrics (often the hair you see in the pages of magazines is too over-the-top for real life), but at the snap of a finger, the stylist must be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Tonight Charlie did.

THE ALLURE ADVANTAGE Twice a year, Allure's editors attend Fashion Week in New York, Paris, and Milan. While it's our jobs to stake out the scene, we also go to be inspired by the fantastical, avant-garde hairstyles that we see on the runways and backstage. These also influence what we do in our pages. Like the contestants, the key hairstylists at these shows have to think not about their own personal tastes, but about the big picture--how the hair will relate to other elements of the designer's look and the set. In those ways, the scene is a lot like a photo shoot.

Hairstylist Odile Gilbert, who has overseen the hair for Chanel, Bottega Venetta, Zac Posen, among many other shows, gives this helpful bit of advice for hairstylists asked to do the impossible: "I create whatever the designer asks me to do, even if it's a style I've never seen before," she says. "It's my job to bring to life what this person has in mind." Though Gilbert was referring to her work as a hairstylist, I can't help but think this idea is incredibly useful when applied to any challenge at work. If your boss asks you to do the impossible, think of Gilbert. Last season, she had to turn models into sexy, French Minnie Mouse-esque girls. Sounds crazy, but eventually, Gilbert succeeded. All it took were some black fuzzy pom-poms and a little resourcefulness.

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