Every season of New York Fashion Week I have misconceptions about how I’ll spend my downtime. Ideal situation: Chilling in the Samsung Galaxy lounge charging my phone and banging out reviews. Actual situation: Chilling in a dive bar on 14th street charging my phone, sipping a bad bloody mary and making small talk with the NYU student who ordered herself a bucket of five Yuenlings at 2pm. Hey, not judging.
But this season was the first one where I’ve found myself in a Starbucks restroom, frantically squirting globs of Duane Reade hair gel straight into my hair. I realize I’m kind of an asshole since getting into a Starbucks restroom on a Saturday can be harder than getting into Cushnie et Ochs with a standing room ticket, hence the frenzied gel application. And why was I doing this in the first place? Well since I’d nominated myself guinea pig for a number of questionable beauty trends, one of them being the wet hair look you can’t get away from, a two-hour gap between shows seemed like a good opportunity to test it out.
The bottle of gel I had bought was $1.49, bottom shelf stuff, but the hair gel specialists at Duane Reade HQ had ranked it a nine out of 10 on the official ‘hold’ scale. This scale, if you are wondering, is also known as false advertising: After about three minutes the sections I had gelled were already getting dry and fluffy. After exiting the restroom and giving everyone in the line an awkward glance that hopefully looked like an apology, I finished my coffee while frequently and not very subtly smearing more globs of gel down my strands to counteract the drying, determined to attend my next show with a glossy, nonchalantly cool 3.1 Phillip Lim runway look (above).
What I ended up with was closer to Jenny Packham hair. Except really gross-looking.
Since I was not keen to repeat this experience I reached out to Pasquale Ferrante at Soho’s Ion Studio, who kindly agreed to aid me in my quest for messy wet-look hair. We agreed to do a more street-friendly version of the Lim look, with a messy, side-swept fringe and loose side strands. I usually part my hair to the side anyway, but to make the look less extreme you can part your hair closer to the centre. Ditto if your fringe refuses to sit to one particular side.
To start off Pasquale applied a spray gel to the roots of my hair. I was previously unaware of the fact spray gel even existed, and thought it was hairspray. Spray gel feels nice and cool when it goes on, and is easier to get right into the roots than normal gel. Here is what the application process looks like via mirror selfie:
The nice cool feeling doesn’t last long though. Gel dries quickly, so you have to work as if you’re holding up someone who just drank a venti Pumpkin Spice Latte and probably really needs to pee.
The next step is to mix up a combination of hair gel and serum for the fringe, ends and loose strands. The type of hair gel you use is the most important thing. Find one with the lowest possible ratio of water to other stuff (i.e. no cheapies, sorry Duane Reade) and mix it with hair serum or oil to allow for a little flexibility.
Now for the fun part. Smear that all over your head and start sculpting the fringe into your desired shape. Pasquale tucked most of my hair behind my ear then messed up the front with his fingertips. When you’ve done that, just tie the back into a lose ponytail and leave a few strands loose.
You can put more serum onto the loose strands so they don’t dry rock solid. You can also do something fancy with the ponytail to cover the hairtie (like wrapping more hair around it and securing with bobby pins). Pasquale set everything in place with a hairdryer and diffuser until it felt like I was wearing a weird helmet made from hair.
Now for the actual fun part: Enjoying people’s reactions. To my sort-of disappointment, this look caused hardly any stares in Gourmet Garage or even on the most tourist-infested part of Broadway. Maybe everyone was waiting until my back was turned before fixing their awed gazes upon my glamorously nonchalant hair — or maybe it just really is a lot more street-friendly than you’d expect. The comments only started once I was back in the office, and was asked whether I had been ‘painted on’. My response was in the negative, but if this turns out to be a wet-look FAQ, you should use the opportunity to reply, “It’s called fashion – look it up.”
So would I do wet-look hair again? You bet your Spring 2014 runways I will. It’s also a great way to disguise laziness, since it works best on greasier hair.
Will you be giving this trend a chance?
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