Though I enjoyed my neo-beehive moment, there were more relaxed options to test-drive. Inspired by the hair at Chanel’s spring 2012 show, Henriquez at Frédéric Fekkai in the Mark hotel in Manhattan gave me a dual-textured low chignon—wet and shiny in the front and back-combed and undone in the rear—that was the perfect foil for the minimal black J. Mendel dress I wore to the aforementioned Rita Hayworth benefit. “You should always wear your hair like that,” said accessories-branding guru Tim Schifter, as he swooped in to greet me. “I saw you from across the room.”
At the subterranean Whittemore House Salon in the West Village, Angela Soto gave me an appropriately edgy, high and tight corkscrew ponytail with a modified rockabilly pompadour in the front that was perfect for my Carine Roitfeld–hosted cocktail event at the French Embassy. (It also added just the right polish to my floor-length Gryphon T-shirt dress.) Apparently, it was quite the 180 from Soto’s more popular evening-out requests. “Kim Kardashian is the biggest hair reference I get,” Soto said.
Jérôme at John Barrett in Bergdorf Goodman also fields his share of “Victoria’s Secret beachy hair” requests, but he has seen a rise, so to speak, in updos among his ladies. “It’s coming back. It’s one way to feel special,” he said as he created what he later deemed “an updown,” putting waves in my hair before folding it into a woven tapestry against my head. “You don’t want to walk out with something that you could have done in the bathroom.”
Nor do you want to look like you’re about to walk down the aisle. Jérôme blames the wedding industry for some women’s big-hair phobia. “I think the whole thing starts with a bad experience at a bridal event,” he said.
There was little chance of a plus-size bouffant from Ion Studio salon in SoHo, where co-owner Pasquale Ferrante gave me a messy topknot to offset my ladylike Carolina Herrera frock for an event at the Met. I waltzed in feeling like the ideal hybrid of downtown nonchalance and uptown poise—and the reactions proved me right.
“Oh, my God, I didn’t recognize you until I heard your voice,” exclaimed the model Arlenis Sosa, greeting me after I had attempted several times to get her attention. Wedding-dress designer Lara Meiland-Shaw, in a train-bedecked ballgown, seemed to have some hair envy (her mane was glossy, but it was down). “I used to wear updos more,” she sighed. “But it’s just so much work.” Another woman eyed my topknot with yearning. “I wish I could do a fun bun,” she said, touching her shorn locks.