She and other celebrities are finding that the right cut can work miracles.
Completely altering one’s appearance is a daring move, especially in Hollywood. But in 2009, Ginnifer Goodwin took the plunge. Just starting to get attention with her roles in Walk the Line and on HBO’s Big Love, the actress chopped her long hair into an edgy, elfin pixie.
In a heartbeat, she went from cute up-and-comer to standout. She’s now a red carpet favorite as famous for her fearless fashion-forward look as for her starring role as Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White in the ABC series Once Upon a Time. “She said she felt like a new person,” says Anh Co Tran, the stylist who created the dramatic do.
Goodwin, 34, isn’t the only celeb to have had a close encounter with a pair of scissors and seen her career and star status take off as a result. Emma Watson, Michelle Williams, Carey Mulligan, Ashlee Simpson and Rihanna, to name but a few, have all ditched their pretty-but-ordinary hairdos for shorter, kickier cuts and found themselves overnight style icons.
Longer cuts have also boosted careers. in the 1970s, Charlie’s Angels actress Farrah Fawcett’s ground-breaking sexy feathered mane helped make her a household name. in 1995, Jennifer Aniston’s bouncy, layered “Rachel” rocketed her from generic sitcom actress to superstar. a couple of years later, Meg Ryan got a tousled shag that revived her career. the message is clear: Long or short, changing your hair can change your life.
“You have to have confidence.”
—Ahn Co Tran
It’s also sometimes surprisingly easy. In Goodwin’s case, despite the magnitude of the decision, there was relatively little fanfare leading up to her new cut. There were no meetings to discuss tons of possible styles, no long talks about the length of this lock or the angle of that layer. “I went to her house, showed her some pictures, then cut it off,” says Tran, who’s based in Los Angeles. It may have been drastic, but the actress was intrepid. “She wasn’t nervous at all,” he says.
Nor was Emma Watson. In 2010, after the last installment of the Harry Potter series was filmed and finished, the grown-up child actress was ready to say goodbye to Hermione Granger. With an equal lack of fuss, Watson asked Rodney Cutler, of Cutler Salon in New York City, to cut her medium-thick hair into a charming pixie. The chic result helped land the 21-year-old British actress on the covers of Vogue and Marie Claire. She also scored a cosmetics-company contract.
So how do stars rock their short cuts so very well? “You have to have confidence,” says Tran, who later took Goodwin’s hair even shorter, shaving the sides and cropping the top to create a tighter, almost punk, silhouette. Watson’s stylist, Cutler, agrees. “The most important thing is to feel empowered and sexy,” he says.
Dramatic change can pose challenges. Super-short hair, for example, can have fewer styling options. Goodwin and others may spend significant time walking red carpets, but updos are now out of the question. So their stylists have to get creative. For Michelle Williams’s appearance at the Hollywood Film Awards last fall, Frédéric Fekkai Celebrity Ambassador Renato Campora styled her hair sleek but soft. For the New York premiere of My Week With Marilyn three weeks later, Campora opted for a casual, piecier look.
For Goodwin, Tran relies on a slew of techniques, products and, occasionally, accessories. “We’ve changed the part, spiked it up, slicked it back and pompadoured it,” he says, reeling off a few of his favorite styles. “Whatever we do, it has to balance out with the hair and makeup: If the clothes are loud, the hair is tame, and vice versa.”
Not all hair makeovers deliver the hoped-for results. In 1999, Felicity star Keri Russell cut her waist-length ringlets into a cute, curly crop. Viewers of the WB series missed her lion’s mane, and the show’s ratings went down. Still, “I’m glad I did it,” she said at the time. “No matter what anybody says.” And in 2010, when Kate Gosselin swapped her controversial reverse mullet for blond extensions, the public loved it, but she didn’t. (She stuck with the look anyway.)
But Goodwin, who lately has been spotted wearing her hair in a slightly longer, chin-length bob, doesn’t appear to be going back to past-the-shoulder tresses anytime soon. These days she has a wig clause written into all her contracts. If she lands a role that requires long hair, she’s happy to oblige—with a wig.
That way, once she’s off the set, she can go back to wearing her hair as short as she likes for as long as she likes.
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