"Shiny, shiny" ... Kevin Murphy's mermaid hair for Bowie.
It's not something that applies to many of us most of the time, but we can learn from Kevin Murphy's experience this week at MBFW (that is, ''busy fashion trade show time'' for non-Sydney/industry people). Murphy was hair director for Bowie Wong's couture collection on Tuesday. Pre-show, in planning, he was presented with what he described as ''full-on, sparkly, shiny, mermaidy'' dresses. We're not talking ready-to-wear nor dimly, evenly remotely, street or practical outfits here, girls, but creations shiny, angelic and gold and white, slim in silhouette and, nevertheless making a dark statement. What's a good hairdresser to do?
He went for the opposite to Bowie's look. ''It's the 'lady of the lake'. Ethereal. A wet look,'' says Murphy, acclaimed session stylist. ''It looks like someone's gone down under the ocean, emerged out of the water, with their hair shiny, skin shiny, the clothes shining. You know how it is when you go swimming? Your hair's subtly lifted while still wet. Shiny, shiny.'' How did he achieve the look? ''I set the roots of the hair to create a wave and left the ends of the hair straight as though they were the last things to be pulled out of the water. We then curled the ends of the roots with a tiny curling iron, raked through the curl and applied product to the ends.''
The style was a ''juxtaposition'' (one of fashion's favourite words) to the designer's ''vision'' (another of fashion's favourite words) of his beautiful clothes. ''Bowie came out with these curly-haired models with flowers in their hair,'' says Murphy. ''I asked him 'is this really what you're after?' with the mermaidy, floaty looks and he sort of said 'I don't know'...'' And they took it from there. Fashion designers are not necessarily hair stylists as anyone who has watched any series of Project Runway knows. Hail the hair director. If we only all had one at home in the morning.
Murphy says he doesn't always counsel a hair/outfit ''juxtaposition'' (''juxtaposition'', by the way, competes only with the radio announcer's ''segue'' as most overused term of professional conceit - just for the record, Richard Stubbs). Murphy says his styling depends on the designs of the clothes and, obviously equally importantly, the designer. Bowie, talented and charming, was open to suggestion. ''With the mermaidy shapes, I wanted to change it completely,'' says Murphy. ''It was trial and error, bringing the mannequins out (to him). I wanted the shine element with roots curled. Angelic. Because the clothes were so full-on, a slim, small silhouette was what was needed.''
What I need and have always needed is Kevin Murphy in my bathroom. Or, OK, a housemate who is a hairdresser who'll effortlessly, happily and silently do my hair every morning (in return for me doing his washing or something). I don't have a ''vision'' when I do my hair. Do you? But then nor are my clothes couture (in the daytime). My hair's random and my ''juxtaposition'' is abandoning horrid heavy and hot hair dryer for Vegemite toast 10 minutes before we have to leave.
Helpfully, Murphy says loose, casual hair is right with T-shirt and jeans. At work ''hair can be up but a smaller silhouette'' this season. Shiny, shiny is his message. My message to you, or my question, is what are you doing with your hair at the moment? What are you seeing among the girls at work? What's hot outside fashion designer world? (and, do you think it works?)