Story Time: Thomas Dunkin, Pink Hair Theory and a Video Friday 09 March, 2012
I talk about my nonconformist haircolor theory to Sebastian Professional stylist Thomas Dunkin on the set of Alice + Olivia’s Summer 2012 Lookbook photo shoot. And there’s a video too!
Even when I’m not doing my own photo shoots, I sometimes get asked to accompany a brand on their shoot—you know, for that insider glimpse. Sebastian Professional, whose cutting-edge campaign imagery is always inspiring, recently invited me to tag-along to a Summer 2012 lookbook shoot for Alice + Olivia. See, Sebastian Pro stylist Thomas Dunkin, who’s manning the hair ship at this shoot, has been dreaming up the backstage hairstyles for the fashion brand’s runway shows for awhile now, so it makes sense he’d be a major part of the brand’s imagery too.
Let me just say: I die for Alice + Olivia wares. Her wide-leg trousers: Genius. The girlishness without being too sugary. My kind of sartorial sentiment.
So the showroom: Like walking into a candy store. I know, I know—I just said it’s not sugary. So why the sweets reference? Well…it really is like a Willy Wonka experience: All of those vivid pastels and pops of neon. I felt like I should run through the clothing racks with my hands out, as though I was running through a wheat field, touching each feathery wisp o’ wheat (or, in this case, every single silky sleeve, leg and cuff). But, being as this is Manhattan, the space was tiny. No room to run, or stretch out arms. I’d have to eyeball it all.
I chat with Thomas, who’s a super-sweet (yep, there’s that sweet again) talent. He’s always so forthcoming with his inspiration and technique, and he tells me he just started his own blog on his site, HairByThomasDunkin.com. It’s hard keeping up with the content, he admits (don’t I know it!), but he loves it.
We discuss the hair at the shoot, because that’s why I’m there, to talk hair, or rather, to chronicle hair (I’m there on behalf of Beauty Launchpad; you can see the short story here), and he delves into both styles, a whitest-white long bob with piecey texture and a flossy cotton-candy pink asymmetrical bun. Though I truly do want to hear about the blonde, I can’t help but keep bringing the conversation back to the pink. It’s not exactly the color I used to rock, but it’s pretty darn close.
I get kinda passionate about this stuff, I tell him. Aspirational hair, he asks? Yes, especially fashion-forward color; this is what I want to see more of—more girls fearlessly walking the streets of not only Manhattan and Los Angeles, but maybe Kansas City and Boise, their baby blue or pearl-tinged lavender locks turning heads—for all the right reasons. We talk about why this isn’t happening for the most part. My (absolutely unfounded) theory: Unconventional color has often been flaunted by nonconformists—people who like their place on the fringe of society. They don’t want to look like anyone else. (Think: Goths or punks.) So they dye their hair dark green or acid orange, but they don’t take care of it. That’s not part of the I’m-not-like-you ideal. It’s stringy; a mess. So it becomes, perhaps, unappealing to the “conformists”—those women who love their beachy waves and stick-straight bobs. You know who you are—and that’s not a bad thing.
But! But! And! See, I have a theory, as I said: If one were to dye her hair an outré hue, and yet wear it beautifully—hyper-glossed, perfectly styled, well-conditioned—this color movement might become more acceptable. Thomas agrees, though he does think that aspirational needs to be accessible. He wishes some of his clients would allow a little bit more play, in terms of color. (Though his client, Rachel McAdams, went pink on her own! Playing kitchen beautician prior to him working with him…She’s more adventurous, he admits, but it always depends on movie studios—they’ve got a say—and shooting…what can truly be done to the hair with all those talking heads?) And you see, when I was having this conversation, it was months ago—perhaps in December, I can’t remember—and as I write this now, Katy Perry has fearlessly walked both red carpets and sidewalks with her positively blue tresses polished to perfection. (Her haircolor, by the way, the product of gifted haircolorist Rita Hazan!) The hair is glossed; it’s styled. Are there naysayers? Of course there are! But, you cannot deny: Girl looks good. Point is: With the help of gals like Katy, unusual haircolor choices (known as “fashion colors” by the hairstylist set) can become more mainstream…inch by inch. Well, maybe centimeter by centimeter. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
That all being said: Cheers to the lasses who dip their tresses in “odd” colors! Wear your tresses proudly—but keep them pristine. I promise: If my theory holds, more and more lasses will be hitting the streets with rainbow-hue hair. In fact, I’m thinking about bringing back some brilliantly “off” color into my hair. But, in the meantime, check out this behind the scenes video I made of Sebastian Professional on-set at the Alice + Olivia Summer 2012 Lookbook shoot.
What do you think? Can pink hair ever truly go mainstream? Do you agree with my completely unfounded theory?