NotebookFebruary 1, 2008 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
The third iconic hairstyle on Townsend's list is the dramatic low bun Faye Dunaway wore when she picked up her Best Actress Oscar for Bonnie and Clyde in 1968. "Her slicked-back hair showed off that gorgeous face," he says. "And the low bun she wore has become a staple at awards shows." Townsend still finds inspiration in the choices Dunaway's made over the years. "I just find her so inspirational," he says. "When she won for Network, she wore her hair down, proving that you don't have to follow the rules, which say you must wear an updo to the Academy Awards."
Clockwise, from top: Cher pushed the envelope in 1998; Julie Christie's long locks are as fresh today as they were in 1966; Barbra Streisand's graduated bob was picture-perfect in 1969.
Julie Christie's flowing waves and bangs at the 1966 Academy Awards—she won for Darling—is another of Townsend's favorites. "I think every hairstylist on the planet has found inspiration in any number of hairstyles Julie Christie's worn over the years, but this one is my favorite," he says. "It's still as relevant and fresh today as it was when she first wore it."
"Come on, how could I not include this one?" says Townsend of the tight curls and headdress Cher wore to pick up her Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck in 1998. "Cher was, is and always will be a risk-taker, and I admire her for that. She found a way to be edgy and elegant with this hairstyle, which was a very modern take on the hairstyles of the 1920s and '30s." Townsend laments the fact that so many actresses seem to be playing it safe these days and that fashion stylists seem to be taking over when it comes to the choices stars make before they walk the red carpet. "Stylists not only dress their clients but also tell them how to wear their hair and makeup," he says. "It gets boring."
Townsend considers himself fortunate to be able to work with Blanchett, who is willing to take risks with her image. Last year he literally grabbed hunks of her hair and pinned them back. "She wore this metal dress that weighed at least 50 pounds," he says. "We knew we wanted the hair tight to her head, but we didn't want a bun or a French twist. I thought we should put texture in her hair because of the dress, and she just let me go for it."
While initially we'd asked Townsend to limit his list to five iconic hairstyles, he felt compelled to include a runner-up: the "perfect bob" Barbra Streisand wore in 1969 when she picked up the Oscar for Funny Girl. "It worked perfectly with that sheer outfit she wore," says Townsend. Indeed it did, and it's also a look that's worked for her in one variation or another ever since. —MARIANNE DOUGHERTY