When Kendall Jenner wanted to transform her hair, she asked for Garren, the legendary hairstylist who has worked with the likes of Diane Sawyer, Linda Evangelista and Gigi Hadid. "She did her homework, that helps me," Garren explained. It turns out, that's his first piece of advice to anyone who wants to transform their look, and try something new. Once they get into his chair, however, it's different: Garren looks at the client's bone structure, their lifestyle, and how they move. That's how he approached the recent haircuts for three women--model Rainey Qualley, actress Brii Hocutt, and musician Arselajda Buraku--for W's new video series Cut. Here, he offers more advice, and explains the hairstyles he's most proud of.
When someone comes to you for a transformational haircut, what do you look for first?
It’s all about body language and the way they touch their hair. It’s all their bone structure, the length of their neck, breasts. Height has a lot to do with it because you want to make people appear taller. I mean Karlie [Kloss] is one of the only ones that you can cut her hair and she still doesn’t look like she’s got a pea head. She actually looks better in shorter hair, because she looks like everybody else now that she’s got long hair. She blends in and it’s very commercial. That happens to a lot of the girls. I just cut Haley Bennett’s hair completely off like a little boy, like Mia Farrow. She didn’t care what her agent said, and she just wanted to free herself from this sex bomb thing.
What are some of the most memorable cutes you've done?
All the ones I did on Linda Evangelista were pretty transformative. Back in the day, I made Courtney Love look human because I gave her a blunt bang and a bob. Victoria Beckham, too: I took all her extensions, took all her things off, and cut her hair really short when she became a businesswoman and became a designer. She honed that in and basically made her serious about her career and now she could do whatever she wants.
She’s the perfect example of less is more.
Less was more. With Megyn Kelly, when I saw this blonde hair I said that’s what’s wrong with news people. They don’t take the chance the way that Diane Sawyer did. When Diane Sawyer started she had long hair. Vogue sent her to me to cut her hair in a layered bob and she became this very classy woman. She owned the program because she had this authoritative look. Megyn came in the morning that we were shooting her. I was going to suggest her cutting her hair and she had taken all of her extensions out. It was all broken. She goes, "I don’t know if you want to put extensions back in but I couldn’t handle it anymore." I said let’s cut it short. She said a girl tried to cut it last night but the back is a mess. I reshaped it. I said you should stick with this not because I did it but you look more authoritative. A cut can give you an identity. Look at how beautiful Michelle Williams looks with short hair. It’s adorable. When she grows it she’s nobody. The same with Jennifer Lawrence. When she cut her hair she looks fabulous.
If someone wants to get a life-changing haircut, and they can't get an appointment with you, what should they do?
They have to really do their homework. I find that if you like the way someone’s hair is don’t be afraid to tap them on the shoulder and say could you tell me who does your hair if their hair is your kind of hair. You can ask but if they say so and so then you go for a consultation and see if it clicks. The consultation is very important. You should share pictures. You should bring in things that you wish you could be or do and then let them talk to you.
When Victoria [Beckham] was sent to me to do her hair, she had called Naomi, and all these people. Then Steven Klein called and said, "Victoria wants her hair cut. Would you talk to her?" When I got on the phone with her I said, "If we’re going to do this I’m going to send you pictures. You absorb it. There’s no question here. Your hair is wearing you." I said, "You’re too cute, you’re too small, you’re too perfect to have perfect hair." She said "I’m doing a clothing line I really want to get out of looking like a Spice Girl." I said, "If you can do it I’m willing to change you but you have to come to me. I’m not coming to the hotel, because I know once you get in their environment they control the situation." I said "I’ll close the salon if you feel that you want to be alone and we’ll do it." I’ve had queens come to me. I’ve had princesses come to me, where it’s very private. They don’t want to be around certain people. It’s a little different now because I don’t have a salon but if I do you I come to you or you come to me and I prefer them coming to me because I get them in my little world.
What is the biggest change for you, now that you no longer have a salon?
Well, how it changes is the women came to me because they wanted a certain look with their cut. They trusted my judgement. I create a look for them, sometimes a signature look that they’ll wear for years. Those are more the avant-garde haircuts. It’s like a signature. It’s like Louise Books or Mia Farrow or something that makes them stand out and they dress the part. It changes their life. We’re listening to what the consumer wants. Then you go to the product world and that’s what we’re trying to do. The woman can have a look and a haircut that could change her life or look for the night, for the week, for the day by changing the products she’s using.
Products are less of a commitment Very non-committal. Whether she wants the dry shampoo or whether she wants it oily, whether she wants it slick, whether she wants it crazy and wild. It’s all about a good haircut, but at the end of the day you’ve always been able to change your look. You should be able to work with what you have. It looks good wet, it looks good when it air dries, and then it looks great when you put product in it. You’ve got the ones for the beach. You’ve got the stuff for when you’re going out formal or when you’re feeling like you want to be natural. You do have choices. It’s like you learn how to put makeup on. Learn how to do your hair.
Which so many of don’t.
Because they just put a ponytail in or they just get rid of it because it takes too much time. If they understood what the product could do if they just put it in and left it alone and then after it’s dry they can mess it up and they’ve got something they’d be free. I think younger women feel if they put themselves together too much they look too old fashioned. I saw the Olsen twins looking like that and they look like they’re ready to scrub floors. They don’t look attractive. People are photographed all the time and they’re looking disarrayed. You can be unique without being the dirty girl with the dirty hair.
Albanian Model Arselajda Buraku on Immigrating and Embracing Her Body