NotebookFebruary 1, 2008 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
With the Academy Awards set to air at the end of the month, we asked Matrix celebrity stylist Mark Townsend to weigh in on the most memorable Oscar hairstyles of all time.
Mark Townsend has gotten Oscar-winners Cate Blanchett, Reese Witherspoon, Rachel Weiss and Jennifer Connolly ready for the red carpet, so it made sense to ask him to come up with a list of his favorite Oscar hairstyles. As this issue went to press, Blanchett had been nominated for two Golden Globes, one for her work in Elizabeth: The Golden Age and the other for her gender-bending role as Bob Dylan in I'm Not Here, and we expect that her work in both those films will be nominated for Oscars, as well. Whatever happens, Townsend will be her mane man when she gets ready to walk the red carpet, which brings us to the first name on his list of memorable Oscar 'dos: Grace Kelly.
Clockwise, from top: Audrey Hepburn's gamine cut was all the rage in 1954; Grace Kelly sported the perfect French twist in 1955; Faye Dunaway's dramatic hairstyle showed off her gorgeous face in 1968.
"She wore the perfect French twist at the 1955 Academy Awards when she won for Best Actress for The Country Girl," he says. "It complemented her dress and accentuated every feature on her face." Townsend, who considers Kelly's French twist an essential Oscar hairdo that works on any face shape and with any outfit, has actually recreated the look on Blanchett a number of times. "You can tweak it ever so slightly to personalize it for anyone," he says of the hairstyle, which has inspired similar looks worn by other Oscar attendees, including Uma Thurman, Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicole Kidman.
Townsend also gives a big thumbs-up to the gamine cut Audrey Hepburn sported in 1954, the year she won her Oscar for Roman Holiday. "Audrey Hepburn showed us just how versatile short hair can be," says Townsend, who notes that her wispy bangs and slicked-back sides inspired many of the hairstyles he created for Natalie Portman when she was growing her hair out after shaving her head for the film V for Vendetta.
"I didn't want Natalie to look the same in every photo just because she had short hair, so I experimented with a lot of different products," he says. "My favorite is Biolage Shaping Cream Wax because it's light, almost a forming paste. I use it for everything. If I do a rough blow-dry with my hands or use a round brush to smooth the hair out, I'll take a little of the wax, warm it up in my palms and scrunch it into the hair to provide a bit of texture, oomph and great shine." The point, says Townsend, is to find ways to dress short hair so that it looks different all of the time.