I am not, nor have I ever pretended to be, much of a hairstyling expert, though not for lack of interest (more for lack of technique/experience—blame a childhood punctuated by mushroom cuts, but I've got two settings: up and down). Plus, I’m regularly forbidden by my hairstylist (big, big love to Tomo) to color it or do anything drastic, though he keeps predicting that one day I’m going to go full Daria, and to that, I say: well, we’ll see. But all of this doesn't mean I can't appreciate hair bravery when the occasion calls, and the occasion, dear reader, is calling.
Or, I should say, the occasion called. Earlier this week, Pantene offered me a one-on-one red carpet-inspired styling session with Danilo (Gwen Stefani’s go-to guy, who also, by the way, created Rooney Mara’s killer asymmetrical coif for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which exploded all over fashion last season). Of course, I took the bait. Cozily set up at the Gotham Beauty Lounge, the lovely and charming (can I just say now that I’m obsessed with him?) Danilo and I talked about awards season (he’s working with Kristen Stewart for the Oscars, and with Amy Poehler and January Jones for some of the parties); his plans to push Pantene as green as it will go; a clutch of truly excellent back-in-the-day Naomi Campbell stories I won’t repeat here because I want him to trust me and tell me more stories; and the timely wisdom collected below. All of this, while he created some silky, bouncy, shiny “big, glam hair” for me, with the help of Pantene's new products, a heck of a lot of hairspray, a curling iron, and some clips. The end result was very Veronica Lake (and then, after a day full of random rain showers, very Veronica Fell-In-A-Lake, but it was good while it lasted). Enjoy.
What Danilo wants to see at the Oscars on Sunday: “I’d like to see an individual. I’m looking for that. Because you see so much of the same, blah. I work with Jessica Chastain sometimes, so I'm excited to see what she's wearing. I worked with her the other day, and I was just like, 'With that face and that hair, who cares! Just channel your YSL ad.' With Kristen [Stewart], I think I'll probably end up giving her glam hair. I mean, she's wearing a gown—shocker, I know—and since she's young, she can get away with a really serious gown if she wants. But, you know, even if she just washed her hair, dried it, and diffused it and went with a big-deal beautiful gown, she'd look great and young and fashion and chic... We're not going to make her look like an old lady, that's for sure. I just want to give her hair that she can touch, move in, and feel glamorous about... Why wouldn't a movie star want to look like a movie star? Also, I'll just say that I already asked her stylist to bring accessories for the hair—with these side-swept looks, jewelry in the hair can be so amazing. When I did Cate Blanchett for the Oscars [in 2000], her team had this Maharajah necklace, and I was like, 'Come on, you've got the real stuff! Let's use it!'"
On haircare versus hairstyling: "My biggest message has been that scalp care is so critical. You have great hair, and I can tell because it's responding, it's just jumping! But this [holding the ends of my hair] is really just a bunch of B.S.. It's death, it's garbage, it's a byproduct of your system. But if your scalp is healthy, that means you're healthy, and that shows. Of course, caring about your scalp is a whole other thing; it's like skincare. It's not about 'styling,' it's about taking care of yourself at that level." [Ed. note: Try this.]
Special event 'Don’ts'?: “First of all, I’ve always said, you’ve gotta look at yourself head to toe. I don’t like it when someone looks like what they’re wearing is wearing them. From their hair to the dress, everything should have that seamless quality. When you see people gunning for a trend, it sticks out like an elephant. Like, I don't like the french-braided hairline 'tiara.' I think it can look too tight, too Heidi...When I do a braided tiara, I give it shape, and I tend towards a spiral braid, more rope-like, more elegant. Also, I’m not interested in messy hair. You can do a version of it that might work—an intentional messiness—but I just don’t like the boring messy, stringy look. Once, Gwen decided she wanted to do a long, spiral curl, and I was like, 'Ugh, OK, but women have been doing this for 10 years...' and it took her about 10 minutes before she told me she was bored of it. But musicians are different than actors. In the music industry, your 'look’ is a very big part of who you are as an artist, but in the movies, you're always told what to wear, what to look like, what to be—[actresses are] molded, so I think on some occasions, they can get confused. You’re as good as your stylist in a lot of cases. That’s why I love the ones who are real individuals."
On 'glam' hair, the creation and preservation of: "It’s funny that we're back with the hot rollers thing. The younger woman of today doesn’t know how to hot roll. Most know flat irons, round brush, curling iron, etcetera, but 'setting' feels new. You can achieve a lot pretty effortlessly with rollers, you just have to practice. There’s so many new good ones, with totally new technology. And as far as that 'perfect' glam hair, how to keep it from getting messy? You may want a little of that. So, I'll do a perfect set and then mess it up so it feels contemporary. That's a good look."
The best tip ever [I should interject here that my hairline possesses two patches at the temples of what I call either "baby hair" or my "party horn(s)" for their tendency to flip up and out in thin tufts when my hair's pulled up, most often visible in photos from nights out]: "For those little fly-aways that people get around their hairline or crown, I take hairspray and either a men's shaving brush or an eye-makeup brush, spray it with Flexible Hold, and brush all those hairs down. Hair takes down [other] hair the best. And now, you're ready for HD... Or as ready as anyone ever is."