Vloggers who specialize in hair tutorials are going to have slim pickings if they try to mine the recent runways at New York Fashion Week for hairspiration. Oh sure, there was a smattering of ponytails and braids, but the buzzwords that hair stylists kept using backstage to describe the hair were "real," "individual," and "normal."
I know what you're thinking: "Oh, god, not normcore." But I don't think that's what we're seeing. Normcore, the way I understand it (I mean, does anyone really understand normcore? Joe Zee probably does), involves irony and appropriating JC Penney dad jeans — or in the case of hair, maybe scrunchies? — to make an anti-fashion fashion statement without anyone realizing it. Hair on the Spring 2015 runways feels more earnest than that. It feels like a palette cleansing of sorts from all of the Rainbow Brite hair, red carpet lacquered updos, and extension-laden styles of seasons past. Normcore isn't inherently fashionable, but this hair is. It's just more, well, real.
Anthony Turner explained it pretty well backstage before the Opening Ceremony show on Sunday. Director Spike Jonze had a specific hair vision for the models, who in a moment of meta-fashion were actually playing models coming to a casting. "I’m used to getting [the hair] perfect, even if it's a little rough. But Spike was like, 'No, they have to look as real as possible,'" Turner says. "I have to get my head around that a little bit. There are certain codes in fashion hair you try to follow. It feels anarchic in a way to not. Real is real. But when a designer says 'real,' they kind of mean oh, they want fashion real."
This new "fashion real" generally means no extensions, runway symmetry be damned. Turner (this time at the Creatures of the Wind show), Tommy Buckett at Kate Spade, Orlando Pita at Derek Lam, and Guido at Alexander Wang all skipped the extensions in favor of letting the models' individuality shine through a bit. "It feels more modern like that. I did say to Alex, 'Let’s do all the ponytails the same length,'' Guido says. "Then I thought on the way here, 'No, that looks old-fashioned.' It feels like an old idea now.”
Buckett echoes the sentiment. "This season, we’re treating all girls individually. No extensions, nothing crazy. What the girls look like is what we want them to look like," he says. "It’ll look a little more real, with a modern feel to it. That’s the whole point of fashion. You create what you want to look like instead of making everyone look the same.” Sure, these runway styles all had a look, but it wasn't as rigidly adhered to for every girl the way it has been in seasons past.
This idea of individualism continued at the Versus show, where Guido and the team were inspired by the '90s, but not in a literal way. In the era of the supes, everyone had a distinct look. Can you imagine putting extensions on Linda Evangelista? No. "There’s not one look. We’re looking at each girl’s individuality. If they have very wavy hair, we’ll leave it," he says.
At Hood by Air, hair stylist Amy Farid also embraced this new runway normal. "We are doing very classic New York Fashion Week hair. Center part, straight flat hair. It's the first time in, like, six years since I've been working with Shayne for this collection that we've ever done anything so normal," she says. "He's showing his Hood by Air classics line, and we just want to be classic. We just want to be normal." One could also argue that the dry ponytails some models wore which were meant to look like "old weave, not fresh out of the packet weave" at DKNY (courtesy of Eugene Souleiman), Bok Hee's "three day old hair" at Tracy Reese and Prabal Gurung's sweaty ponytails are also looks that so-called "normal" women often turn to.
At a morning show on Sunday, several fellow beauty editors complimented my hair, which I had just spritzed with beach spray and let air dry into a natural semi-frizzy wave prior to running out the door. "Thanks," I said. "This is just my real hair." Not fashion real. Real real.
Additional reporting by Eliza Brooke.