Ninety minutes into my appointment with one of Britain’s most sought-after hairdressers and my hair is a mess. The corkscrew curls around my face have been brushed out, creating a halo of frizz not seen since Kylie’s perm in Neighbours.
Meanwhile, the back half of my hair has been scrunched into a tight ball, pinned to within an inch of its life.
What I wanted was the latest celebrity hair do — but at the moment I look one part poodle, one part ballerina, and it seems it’ll be almost another hour before my hair is red-carpet ready.
Claire Foy (pictured) Jennifer Lawrence, Sienna Miller, Kate Hudson, Blake Lively and Eva Longoria are all fans of the ‘scruffy up-do’
So, what is this complicated new look? Put bluntly, it’s how your hair looks when you’ve quickly twisted it into a butterfly clip and there are bits hanging down.
English beauty Emily Blunt sported the look at the premiere of her film The Girl On The Train. She was wearing a floor-length embellished gown by Alexander McQueen — but her hair? Well, it looked like she’d scraped it back to go the gym.
Emma Stone tried the same style at the Paris premiere of the much-feted La La Land, her locks pulled away from her face, with bits falling down at the front as if she’d just come back from a blustery walk.
And it’s not just them: Claire Foy, Jennifer Lawrence, Sienna Miller, Kate Hudson, Blake Lively and Eva Longoria are all fans of the ‘scruffy up-do’.
I spend most days sporting a messy bun (sometimes tied up with rubber bands or pencils). Does this mean I now have the style of an A-lister?
In a word, no. Just as Dolly Parton said that it ‘costs a lot of money to look this cheap’, it takes a lot of work to look that effortless. Two and a half hours of work. It takes a lot of money, too, as I found out when I visited Stephen Low in the exclusive Knightsbridge salon, Neville.
‘It might look like you’ve just pulled it back yourself, but it’s not as simple as that,’ says Stephen. ‘People like it because it looks younger and less done — but it has to stay put and be done in a way that suits your face.’
Stephen’s up-dos start at £180. With a tip (I’m assuming A-listers tip?) that’s at least £200 for a bun that looks like it was done in two seconds, running out the door.
Here’s what I went through to look perfectly undone …
Unlike most messy up-dos, this one starts with perfectly clean hair. I have mine washed by Manuel, Stephen’s assistant, who shampoos twice and conditions.
Then my hair is combed and rough-dried. I’m offered anything I like from the menu which includes Matcha latte and Canarino tea to improve digestion. I settle for tea. Builder’s tea.
Stephen’s up-dos start at £180. With a tip (I’m assuming A-listers tip?) that’s at least £200 for a bun that looks like it was done in two seconds, running out the door
Stephen takes round brushes and carefully blow dries my hair. He then takes one narrow section at a time and whips my hair into perfectly glossy curls in about half an hour. I love the look but it’s the opposite of what we are going for. ‘With your kind of hair, I have to smooth it out in order to mess it up,’ he explains. ‘Otherwise it would look too wild.’
My beautifully blow-dried hair is divided into two big sections. The back half is put into a ponytail which sits bang in the middle of the back of my head. The front half, all around my face, is left hanging loose.
Using curling tongs, Stephen curls the hair around my face. Taking small sections about an inch wide, he teases my hair until I have tight ringlets. I look like a cross between Shirley Temple and Little Orphan Annie.
Next, Stephen runs his fingers through the ringlets and messes them up. He applies a LOT of hairspray. Now things look a bit more chaotic, but it’s more Coco the Clown than edgy, effortless elegance. Stephen says this gives my hair ‘volume’ and ‘texture’. Is that hairdresser speak for frizz?
The back ponytail is scrunched into a bun and pinned into place with a dozen bobby pins. It’s as secure as a pair of Spanx.
Stephen uses his fingers to pull differently sized sections of my messy mane towards the back of my head, twisting them round the bun and pinning them in place, spraying as he goes.
I love it. It looks young and modern and flattering. I also feel (dare I say it?) quite cool. Possibly for the first time ever
Because of the curls/frizz (sorry, texture) my hair pouffs up, giving the style height. Stephen says this elongates my face to create more of an attractive oval shape.
‘Buns suit anyone,’ he tells me. ‘It’s how you style the front of the hair that differs, depending on face shape and hair type.’
Thirty-five pins later, my hair is pulled back into the famous messy bun. But we’re still far from done.
Now the really important bits: Stephen pulls out strands of hair from the bun so it looks scruffy. The sticky-out bits, he tells me, must be quite straight, so they poke out like a twig from a branch. You may have to use a hair straightener on these bits.
Finally, Stephen pulls out wispy bits around my face. These might look flyaway, but they’re hairsprayed so much they’d stand up to gale force winds.
And so I am done. Or artfully undone. And I love it. It looks young and modern and flattering. I also feel (dare I say it?) quite cool. Possibly for the first time ever.
Neville Salon, 020 7235 3654, nevillehairandbeauty.net
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