Mind the Gap

Mind the GapLondon’s hottest stylists dish on the city’s burgeoning underground trends.

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Anyone who has been lucky enough to visit England’s capital city will attest that while Londoners speak the same language (though not always with an accent intelligible to us), have customs similar to ours (they don’t only drink tea; the first coffee house opened in London back in 1652—take that, Starbucks!) and enjoy pretty much the same things as we Americans do (except, perhaps, ice in their sodas), there’s just something more to them.  They seem to be more daring, have more of a presence and take more risks with their styles—including their hair. So what are the strong hairstyling trends seen on blokes and birds who are currently sashaying in Soho or pounding down Oxford Street? We tapped leading London stylists to give you a peek at the hottest styles across the pond.

The most in-demand trend in London at the moment  can be summed up in one word: short. “At the moment, the look is very daring and ’80s-influenced,” relates Andy Heasman, international artistic director of Rush London, a group of award-winning hairdressers. “We’re moving away from the A-line bobs and more toward short, cropped, boy-meets-girl haircuts showing the cheekbone.”

Leonardo Rizzo, Sanrizz global artistic team member, couldn’t agree more. “Girls are getting braver and wearing tailor-made haircuts to suit their facial structures,” he relates. “Girls with mid-length hair are most definitely going shorter and stronger.”

But don’t think that the entire city is mad for short crops, says Heath Grout, creative director of TIGI UK. “People are recognizing hair as a strong accessory when it comes to individualizing their styles,” he explains. “Even though short is popular, a lot of girls are influenced by the long locks favored in the ’70s, but they’re dressing their hair differently; they’re spending a lot more time setting their styles.” Heasman agrees that Londoners are experimenting with more streamlined looks. “There’s a strong, classic element running through London—a more expensive and tailored trend.”

You might be thinking to yourself, well, that sounds a lot like what we’re seeing in my salon. But bear in mind that this is London, the city of “more.” So how do trends that appear similar to those seen in the U.S. actually differ? “Don’t take this personally, readers,” warns Rizzo, “but I do think that we Brits lead the way when it comes to style trends. From my experience, styles in America are led by Hollywood hair, which has a softer look, whereas we’re a bunch of fashion-crazy Brits!”

All of the stylists interviewed agreed that Londoners tend to take their inspiration from the catwalk rather than the red carpet, citing designers such as Alexander McQueen (affectionately known in the U.K. as the “hooligan of English fashion”) and models like Agyness Deyn as major trendsetters.

“A shorter, stronger disconnected look is acceptable in London,” reveals Grout, who’s originally from the U.S. but has spent the past two years living and working in London. “In America, your client could be reprimanded by her boss if she showed up to work with a really avant-garde haircut. But remember, Londoners lived through the punk era—they’ve seen it all already.”

Which brings us to another British realm of inspiration: the music scene. “London is a very music-oriented city,” says Grout. “The people here are really into rock, and they follow the trends that the musicians set.”

Artists like Amy Winehouse are fueling another trend in the London hair scene, says Jo Cree Brown, artistic director/joint head of education for Trevor Sorbie. “We’re seeing loads of backcombing here,”  she reveals.

“Although there’s a trend towards short, modish hair, there’s also a big influence from the late ’50s and early ’60s.” And there’s a shift to the shag, says Heasman, especially for men. “British fashion is turning very rock, going back to the Rolling Stones sort of style,” he relates.

 “Rock bands do filter through more to our male clientele,” agrees Rizzo. “There’s a hint of hero worship here, and it tends to be an overall look that they adopt as opposed to just the hair.”

All in all, however, the stylists agree that the gap between U.S. and U.K. hair fashion is lessening, thanks in large part to the Internet. “Hair and fashion aren’t like they were in the ’80s, when it took two to three years for them to reach America,” explains Grout. “Anything that happens in major fashion cities will invariably filter down to smaller towns much more quickly due to the Internet.”

Brown agrees, but with this caveat: “People are always going to want to express their individuality. There will always be people who will be more adventurous with their cut and color. It’s what keeps us hairstylists on our toes!”

—Amy Dodds

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