Today marks 15 years since Sex and the City debuted on HBO and Carrie Bradshaw first captured our attention with her witticisms, expensive heels and iconic long, curly blonde hair.
The worldwide fascination her hair inspired is perhaps rivaled (in TV World) only by that of Felicity Porter. And Bradshaw's hair followed a similar trajectory. At the end of season four, she shocked the world by walking into Vogue with a bob. And now we know the story behind it.
At the NYWIFT (New York Women in Film and Television) Design Women awards, where she was an honoree, we got a chance to chat up the woman responsible for the chop, Mandy Lyons, who actually cut her teeth in fashion. Read on for our interview, in which she dishes on the reason and inspiration for the cut (it was out of necessity), how she ended up on the show, spending hours curling (shoe designer!) Sarah Jessica Parker's hair (even though it's naturally curly), why she prefers film and television to the fashion world, and more.
How long did you work on Sex and the City? I joined Sex and the City at the start season five when Sarah Jessica needed to cut her hair short. So I was involved in that and then I did season five and season six of the series and then I did both of the movies. She’s so cool to work with. I’d say, 'Let’s do this,' and she would say, 'Go for it,' and we just do it. It was just being creative and fun.
Her hair is naturally curly, right? But it's had so many textures... Sarah Jessica’s hair is naturally very curly so even when I’m curling it, I straighten out most of it first and then add in different kinds of textures.
What's the story behind the cut? Her hair got damaged from different work and I got asked to do it because I was in the right place at the right time. I just happened to be doing her hair for an ad campaign and she said, 'What would you do?' I said I would cut it like Kim Basinger’s in 9 1/2 Weeks, but make it really more modern. She said 'Great, will you do it?' and I was like, 'Oh! okay then,' and the next thing I know I'm doing the series. It was nice as it grew out because I got to do a lot of different lengths.
Do you have a favorite style you've done on her? I think the funnest one for me was the end scene of the first Sex and the City movie where they’re all having dinner and they’re celebrating Samantha’s 50th birthday. I told the director I was gonna make the hair so big that it would fill the screen and he went, 'Do it.' You’ll notice it actually gets bigger and bigger and it’s just these beautiful big waves and this tiny belle du jour piece here [gestures towards top of head].
How long would it usually take to do her hair? Everything takes like over an hour and then makeup as well. Really, it’s a two-hour process.
What took the longest? Sarah Jessica I guess because to create all those curls I would always use like five different style irons and always challenge myself to create something different every time rather than just barrel curling her hair.
What did you do before you got into television and film? I was doing fashion--my first show was with Karl Lagerfeld in Paris and then I did a lot of very up and coming designers in London. I worked for I-D and The Face and I did the Chloe ads when Stella McCartney was still there. I did print work but it wasn’t all celebrities then, so it was way more fun because when you get a model, they don’t have an opinion, they don’t care, they sit down and you create, so I feel lucky because it’s all changed now; it’s so different. I’m happier doing this.