Should I Get Bangs?

I like to think that I’m one minor adjustment away from becoming the perfect woman—the Gwyneth Paltrow I always knew I had inside me. Imagine going baby blond—suddenly you’re adding “Kennedy” to your Carolyn Bessette. Do a Key Son workout DVD and you’ll know what it feels like to be Daria Werbowy (spoiler: awesome). Put on the right red lipstick, and now Liv Tyler is referring to you as the “Chunginator.” I’ll put it to you this way: in lieu of a linen closet, I keep a closet full of skincare, hair products, supplements, and makeup purchased with the hope that I would someday be able to look at myself in the mirror and think, “There she is.”

And, until last month, I had yet to consider the most alluring and terrifying of image transformers: Bangs. Fringe. La Frange. LaBeouf. Whatever you call them, that swath of above-the-eyes hair has the ability to make or break a woman or a Bieber. They could go terribly wrong, but did fear hold back Lou Doillon from shrouding her face in mystery? Did Rooney Mara turn down The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because of a requisite trim? What Would Grimes Do? Better yet, What Would Suri Do? And, after binge-watching Funny Face and The Devil Wears Prada, I decided it was time I took my blunt cut into Freja Beha territory.

“I’m getting bangs!” I announced to the office with the pride of a newly engaged woman. And, like all good, concerned boss-friends, they suggested that I ask hairstylist Ashley Javier to fashion temporary faux fringe for me before making any rash decisions. “Like a hair piece?” I clarified. “He did the same thing for Annabelle [Dexter-Jones],” Nick said, explaining how Javier could color-match and cut a few clip-on styles to send me home with before I took scissors to my real hair. And after a phone consultation with the extremely wry and charming Javier—“I don’t do ‘cuts,’ I do careers,” he told me—I set up an appointment to visit his sunny Flatiron salon.

I was greeted by a hot tea, a terrier, and a rainbow arrangement of fake bangs. In other words, I had taken the subway and an elevator to heaven. I thought that I would get the ball rolling by whipping out my own set of color-matched clip-ins—until I realized I’d made the mistake of ordering ones made of synthetic fibers. “I can’t believe my scissors are going to cut this,” Javier said, laughing. He would not be able to dye my faux hair, nor could he do much in the way of taming or styling, out of fear that too much heat would melt the—yes—polyester. Thankfully, the color was more or less spot-on and Ashley was able to look past my naiveté.

After cornrowing a two-inch-wide section of my real hair back over (to which the faux bangs would be clipped), Javier swiftly chopped polyester and talked me through the World of Fringe, which includes:

1. The bi-bang: A Birkin-esque bang that can be swept to the side so it disappears into the rest of the hair.

2. The brow bang: Cut right above the brows, so the eyebrows are still visible.

3. The girly bang: Cut one finger-width above the eyebrows, it’s a “very Sandra Dee” bang, ideal for shorter lengths.

4. The baby bang: Audrey Hepburn mini fringe.

5. The fetus bang: An extremely graphic, very edgy, choppy bang that is two-and-a-half fingers above your eyebrows.

All the while, we laughed, played with hairstyles, talked references, and weighed the pros and cons of each look. It felt adventurous and extravagant. I was the Tai to his Cher. And, like any good tryst, when we were done he asked if he could light a cigarette before telling me about his childhood, about his passions (hair), and he even showed me a painting he was working on. He told me that I looked the prettiest in the girly bang, but that he’d want to hang out with fetus-banged me, so I left with one fetus bang [2], one girly bang [3], and one bi-bang [4].

I spent a week in those beautiful, bespoke face-merkins, but as much as I liked them, I ultimately decided I wasn’t ready to commit. It’s the same way I feel about getting a dog. Of course I want it, but it wouldn’t be fair. I don’t have time to take care of bangs, and I really do enjoy the freedom of not having to style them or have such a signature look everyday. And I couldn’t be happier that I went temporary, because I’m no longer taunted by the mystery of ‘What would I look like?

Here’s what I learned about getting bangs, both faux and real:

1) When going fake, invest in real hair if you can get it. It’s much more versatile, and you can manipulate it to match the texture of your own hair.

2) As a general rule, bangs should never go wider than the arches of your eyebrows. This will not only keep your face from looking wider (an unfortunate reality of a lot of fringe), but will also keep you from looking like you have a bowl cut on the front half of your head. We can’t all be Willow Smith.

3) If you’re going to taper your bangs (and not cut straight across), make sure the length is consistent at least within the gap between your eyebrows.

So, this time, I did not get banged. But, the experience left me with the itch to change something, so I made an emergency hair appointment and chopped off a full five inches—right to the collarbone. A day later I ran into Leandra Medine who told me point-blank, “I like your hair. It’s not short enough.” I’m still very much on the journey to revealing my inner Gwyneth.

—Mackenzie Wagoner

Photos by Mathea Millman

Give Your Lover A Lock Of Hair

Well, it’s Valentine’s Dayif you celebrate that kind of thing. Me, I celebrate my love for my boyfriend every morning by shoving the single pillow we share over his face before turning on the light so as not to shock his delicate eyes. I guess his very own pillow would be a good V-Day present this year… But back in the day, people were weirder about love and exchanged dead cells that grow in strands out of their bodies. Then they made jewelry out of it. You can find specimens like this on Ebay, labeled “mourning jewelry” because when people died, their survived-bys would clip and encase a strand of their hair to keep in remembrance. My mom actually clipped a strand of my hair when I was a baby in anticipation that the gentle, kind, loving little girl would eventually die…and be replaced with the the saltiest little bitch to enter into day care. Seriously: it’s in a chest next to the one time I apologized to her on a notecard attached to a hideous clay sculpture glued to a plastic fork.

But the hair lockets weren’t all made from dead people—living, breathing lovers gifted each other locks of hair as well. Imagine a young blond farm girl snipping off a ringlet and tucking it into a locket before handing it off to her beau who just got a job with the Pony Express. (They all died of dysentery…or something. The farm girl’s father was relieved; he didn’t like the guy that much anyway.) It’s pretty! Pretty creepy. But don’t all romantic gestures make someone cringe? I feel nauseated every time I see a couple bragging about their nice, clean living room on Instagram, so to one-up their obvious attempt to disgust me, I’ve created a keychain of my hair to give my boyfriend [1]. Because—alert Pinterest—real-hair braided keychains are the new mourning jewelry.

This isn’t the first time I’ll be giving a guy some of my hair. Once I sent a lock of my virgin, spun-gold ombré (Jared Leto-level ombré, I swear) to a long-distance boyfriend. And thank god I did send it out, because now I can ask him to return it, to bring in to show my colorist on my quest to get that perfect color back. “Hi, hope you’re well! Sorry for the break up. Hey, do you remember that time I sent you a piece of my hair? You wouldn’t happen to still have it would you?”

At the time, it felt very romantic, and it’s because the gesture, while bizarre as all get-out, is very romantic! You’re giving someone you love an actual piece of you. Just make sure it’s not a piece of you that you really need, like hair from the top of your head or the nape of your neck—clip from the middle-back section of your head where nobody will ever notice the absence of a small chunk. And rather than snipping off enough to make an elaborate braid, just go with a lock tied in a pretty satin bow and place in a Hallmark card next to that iTunes gift certificate you picked up while in line at CVS (don’t worry, the romantic snip of hair cancels out your crappy non-human-made gift), and make your boyfriend happy…after he pays your dowry like in the good ol’ days.

—Annie Kreighbaum

Photo [1] by Annie Kreighbaum, Photos [2-8] courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Caroline Trentini at Alexander Wang Fall 2014

“I had a baby five months ago in Brazil, so this is my first job in New York in a year and a half. I didn’t travel at all when I was pregnant. I flew in yesterday for the fitting, and I’ll leave tomorrow to go back to the baby in Brazil. I have to get my son’s little visa done so he can come, too. Being a mom has changed everything: you have a different energy, you see everything differently. It’s such an incredible feeling. I miss my son, Bento, so much. Bento means ‘blessed’ in Portuguese. I really understand what love means now. Having a baby also changes your body so much. I have had to work out a lot—three times a week I get trained with boxing and fighting with my trainer in Brazil.  And your skin texture changes; I have to moisturize so much. When I was pregnant, I used Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil and Mustela Specific Support Bust Cream and Belly Cream so I wouldn’t get stretch marks. Mustela makes a cream for every part of your body! And it worked. They also say your hair falls out when you stop breastfeeding. I’m still breastfeeding now—he’s almost six months. I’m going to breastfeed him until I can’t, I guess. I was three years old when I stopped. It was a nightmare for my mom, but they say that’s why I grew so much and I’m so tall! [Laughs] It feels a little weird to be back on the runway, but I think I was really prepared for this moment. I have such a better life now, because I have a family… But I love my job and I want to continue doing this. I missed everybody.”

—as told to ITG

Caroline Trentini photographed backstage at Alexander Wang Fall 2014 by Emily Weiss on Saturday February 8, 2014. Hair by Guido for Redken and makeup by Diane Kendal for Nars. 

Thanos Samaras, Hairstylist

“My interest in hair started when I was young, growing up in Greece. I found a ponytail of my mother’s that she had cut off when she was a child. It was quite long and thick, and I would experiment on it by bleaching it, giving it an olive oil treatment, seeing how different processes would reflect the light. It was a secret obsession. I was a boy; I wasn’t supposed to play with hair. On the down low, I would make tiny wigs for my sisters’ dolls. I was so fascinated how hair could transform them.

My background is in architecture and theater—acting. I love images, movies, and stories. It all ties together, really, because good fashion is a story, and the model is a character. Think about the images Mert and Marcus create, or Miles Aldridge—they’re like film stills from an amazing movie. So, about 10 years ago while working as an actor, I started photographing dolls that I had styled and placed in sets. People picked up on that work and I started collaborating with Japanese publications, because dolls are huge in Japan. They even celebrate dolls with a special ‘Doll Day.’ I collaborated with companies to develop some dolls, and eventually made a line of doll wigs for Blythe dolls. Greek Vogue saw it and, in 2010, they asked me to do a cover photo for them with a wig on a model. That went really well, and it led to another, and then another.

Now I get booked to style both real hair and wigs. And, as a reader, you’d never be able to tell if it’s a wig or not. Even when we’re working with real hair, there’s always an extra element of hairpieces and extensions involved. There’s no difference whatsoever in working with either material.

For me, working with wigs is almost a fetish. I spend the whole night before the shoot with the wig: creating it, cutting it, dyeing it, and getting to know it, so I can take it with me in the morning and transform the girl into someone else entirely—that’s what a wig is for. You don’t just throw a brunette wig on a brunette. At the end of the shoot, I get to take the wig home as a trophy. It’s fun. I have wigs that I’ve used a lot, or that had real moments, like the red wig I made for an Italian Vogue shoot with Codie Young. It looked so sensational on her that, a few weeks later, she dyed her real hair the exact shade of red we used in the story. I look at those wigs and think, ‘We’ve done a lot together. [Laughs] It’s creepy, I know. I also refer to the wigs as ‘she’ if it’s for a woman, or ‘he’ if it’s for a man.

Working with hair is a very intense experience for me. It’s kind of embarrassing, but I am enamored with hair—how it reacts to humidity, heat, chemicals, light, the way it can look kind of sad and forlorn when it’s just wet and hanging. It’s so beautiful. Then it can be treated with love and heat and serums, and it can become this wonderful, amazing texture that has all kinds of planes and landscapes. You can see how it moves and catches the light. It’s such a humble material, but it communicates so much.

We read people by their hair, and I can tell a lot about a person by their hair. The way we style it says a lot overall about our socioeconomic status, about our taste, health, and our age. It carries a lot of information. Volume kind of equals health; when there is more hair, you feel like that person is healthy and prosperous. I’m generalizing, but I think that we judge people by their hair very much.

Every country kind of has its own set of hair criteria. American women tend to like to wear their hair longer, and very glossy, and they like to have more of it. If they don’t have a lot of hair, they might get extensions or clip-ins. I actually make a line of impermanent extensions called SisterVeronica. I love working with real people, making custom pieces, and seeing their joy when they see themselves in the mirror, as if they’ve been upgraded. Women in Greece don’t have as much hair—I’m just speaking to what I see on the subway and on the street. In Paris, women tend to do that kind of unkempt Carine Roitfeld hair, and have a dye job that looks like it needs to be retouched—but they wear it like they mean it.

I’m more attracted to a bad dye job, or a completely fucked-up bleach job, than something perfect. I find it has more character—it’s more lyrical and luxurious. I love the sadness of hair that’s lack and limp, that doesn’t have great density, and moves more freely in the wind, than a thick, chunky Pantene head of big hair. It’s quiet, subdued, and kind of melancholic. I love a wonderful dry, long salty texture, too, that’s got a slight kink to it.

I mix a lot of styling products myself. I make my own salt spray by mixing soda water, salt, and a couple drops of serum together until it makes the hair react the way I want it to. And, in place of serums or silicones, I will combine oils with water and a drop of hair gel, and it works in a completely different way than a commercial product. But I do love the Super Skinny Serum by Paul Mitchell. It leaves absolutely no grease in your hair—it gets completely absorbed. You can use it on the most fucked-up, destroyed hair, and it will look like a million bucks, as long as you know how to use your curling iron and flat iron—you need some heat to seal it in. And Oribe’s Dry Texturizing Spray is the best thing since sliced bread. It instantly creates lifted roots, a beautiful texture throughout the hair, and it doesn’t seem to build up or kink. It’s just amazing.

I’d say I split my energy 50/50 between acting and hair. When I’m not busy with one, I’m doing the other; most often though, I do both simultaneously. I appreciate people who have their hands in more than one cookie jar.”

—as told to ITG

Thanos Samaras photographed by Emily Weiss in New York on August 6, 2013. 

I arrived in New York last night and headed straight to the John Freida Salon in Meatpacking. They just launched a new line of hair products designed to give good curls and as a chronic straightener I was interested in something new. So with my luggage in tow I hailed a cab and darted downtown for the wavy locks that dreams are made of.

Stylist David Allen washed my mane with Frizz Ease Smooth Start Shampoo. It’s perfect for girls with straight hair who have frizz or fly-aways. It helps eliminate frizz from the shampoo to the chair. Next Allen brushed the new Frizz Ease mouse through my hair. I always love to comb product through wet hair to ensure it gets distributed evenly. I’m obsessed with this mouse; it doesn’t give you crispy curls circa 1993 but soft volume at the roots. Before blowing out my tresses Allen spritzed me with my favorite product from their new launch- Go Curlier. It helps lock in curls for a full forty-eight hours. We dried my hair and went through it with a curling iron. I love that Go Curlier is heat activated to help lock in the perfect waves while styling. My drab tired locks perked up into wavy bombshell perfection. Needless to say I’m obsessed.

-Photos by Aimee Blaut in New York

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