Pretty in ponytails
By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Paula Rath
From Brigitte Bardot to Kate Moss, the ponytail has long been a sassy style statement, and it's back — the 'do has been sashaying down runways and swishing on the red carpet. Trussed tresses is the perfect look for Island women ready to swing into summer.
The 2006 ponytail is either casually insouciant or posh and polished, and is anything but a last-ditch effort on a bad-hair day.
At last week's Chanel fashion show, a benefit for the American Red Cross, Hawai'i Chapter, held at Halekulani, Honolulu hair stylist Kihan paired the ponytail with Karl Lagerfeld's edgy designs. "It's a mood," Kihan explained. "It's loose and easy, not sleek and contrived."
On the runways in Europe and New York, Miu Miu models' hair was pulled back at the nape of the neck while Pucci opted for a slicked-back, glossy look and Matthew Williamson marched out his models in high, almost samurai-style top knots.
Hollywood is ponytailing it in a big way. Keira Knightley has been seen in a soft, sexy version with wisps of hair around her face. Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang prefers a sophisticated tightly pulled-back ponytail. And of course Gwyneth Paltrow is known for a loose, easy, feminine take on the style.
PONY UP A LITTLE EFFORT
Be aware, however, that even the most casual looking ponytail requires a little effort. Sure, a ponytail can be low maintenance, but it should not be no maintenance. Those escaping wisps can look sweet and sexy — or just plain sloppy. The posh ponytail is not achieved by simply yanking the hair back and pulling it through a rubber band.
"It's important not to make (a ponytail) look contrived. It should look like you did it yourself but it actually takes a lot of work to achieve that look," Kihan said.
Oddly enough, Kihan recommends starting out with dirty hair. It makes it easier to style and hold a ponytail in place. If you just can't stand dirty hair, however, a styling product can help achieve the same manageability (see box for suggestions).
To achieve a soft, curly ponytail with a lot of swing, Kihan uses hot rollers or a curling iron on the hair before putting it up.
Joe Randazzo of J Salon in Chinatown says ponytails are an ideal option for many moods and styles: "Wear one high on the crown for an edgy look, low on the nape for a more classic look or add a low side part for a modern look."
His styling advice: "To achieve a sleek, polished look, blow dry hair using a smoothing product such as Nutri-Sculpt Mousse by Kerastase, then quickly run the ends through a flat iron. This gives the ponytail swing and shine."
High or low?
Advertiser fashion forum member Amy de Filippi, who often sports a ponytail, especially when she's teaching yoga, says "A low ponytail is for work and a high ponytail is for life."
While most hair stylists feel that age has little to do with ponytails, TV celebrity stylist Jonathan Antin in a recent Honolulu visit said he thinks high ponytails are for those under 30 while low ponytails are more appropriate for women over 30.
Kihan said mood and shape of the face (especially the profile) should determine ponytail height. If your nose is not your favorite feature, he said, a ponytail worn in the middle of your head is not a good idea because it will emphasize your nose. Opt instead for a high or low style.
"Make sure you don't get a flat head, especially if you are Asian," Kihan warned. He recommends gently twisting the hair into a ponytail then pushing up on it to get height at the crown. "Part it on the side and comb both sides first, always combing the middle last and lifting while you comb," he explained.
A side part, Kihan added, should lead directly down to the eye, ideally to the arch of the eyebrow.
ADJUST YOUR MAKEUP
A smoky eye and long lush lashes can provide the ideal balance for hair that's pulled back away from the face.
An eyebrow arch becomes important with a ponytail. Be sure to keep them neat and precise.
Simple and sweet or sleek and sophisticated, find the ponytail that's right for you.
Reach Paula Rath at email@example.com.