Inspired by Margot Robbie's (31) cover look for British VOGUE, our colleague Kathleen Baird-Murray goes to the hairdressing salon - to realize that a French pony simply works at any age.
What is it that makes the French pony so youthful? While my hairdresser Joel Goncalves happily snips my hair, which is piling up in my lap, I can't help but marvel at how the careful selection of stringy, pointed and blunt sections of hair make the eyes a little bigger and the lips a little fuller and make the freckles look a little... more playful. To be clear, I'm talking about the Margot Robbie cover on British VOGUE, which inspired me to even go to a hairdresser and not my own reflection in the mirror.
But while the 31-year-old actress totally rocks the look (created by hairstylist Bryce Scarlett), it's the spirit of this particular type of hairstyle that makes it so wearable at any age - including mine. Long summer evenings, barefoot in the park, oversized Celine sunglasses... The French girl fringe look is the antithesis of the predominant power fringe, its geometric perfection creates a business-like atmosphere that allows the wearer to express her inner Mary Portas to bring out. "It's Françoise Hardy, Brigitte Bardot," says Goncalves. "Always easy to carry, always legendary, and popularity has grown over time."
And it's that feeling of freedom - which you may need more than ever after lockdown after lockdown - greater than the desire to slim down for a few years that more and more people in their fifties want. At least as far as my random poll of those who sit in Goncalves' chair suggests. "Two yesterday and one more later today," she says.
I dare say that with a pony you will never need botox on your forehead, which could be why some women try the haircut for the first time at a later stage in life. "The pony is not only very youthful," says Goncalves, "but many women who have a pony also do not have botox on their foreheads." If you've never dared do it before, it's worth reconsidering - your face shape may have changed slightly over the years. Something that a good hairdresser can recognize and use. "It all depends on where the hair lands on the browbones, cheeks, and chin. Soft bangs bring out the cheekbones and jawline and enlarge the eyes," says Goncalves. "If you cut the hair a little further back from the eye, the eyes can appear a little wider - this has a very strong influence on the bone structure.
He prefers the type of bangs where the middle, just above the bridge of the nose, is quite short and the rest of the bangs fan out towards the sides and cheekbones. This way, as it grows out, the longer sections will fuse with the rest of the hair, meaning the bangs will last longer between haircuts. "A square pony just grows into the eyebrows and literally attacks them, all at once," she explains.
The color is also crucial. "It's important to see the bangs as part of the hairstyle and tie it in with the rest of the haircut," says Nicola Clarke, colorist and founder of the Nicola Clarke salon of the same name at John Frieda (where Goncalves is the artistic director), who a couple brought light parts into the actual bangs and left a small dark approach. Elsewhere it was balayage. "It's a good way to wear bangs when you're older because the hairstyle still stays soft and feminine," she says.
The other important detail is how you dry the bangs. A hairdresser at David Mallet's chic Parisian salon once taught me a great trick: roughly dry the bangs and then blow-dry them first to the left and then to the right while staying close to your forehead. If your: e hairdresser: in pick up one of those round brushes and starts lifting the bangs away from your forehead to curl them up and out, go to the sink and ask your: n hairdresser: in politely, one more time to begin. "Don't try to blow dry the bangs," says Goncalves. "It's all about using your hands or a paddle brush. That fringe goes wrong if you overdo it."
While Goncalves is making his final adjustments, I of course notice that although a pony is easy to wash, regular trimming also requires a lot of maintenance. The strands grow. Quickly. But these days I'm in the salon so often for dyeing that I can kill two birds with one stone. Clarke points out that good hairdressers want to maintain your bangs at no extra cost anyway because honestly, they'd rather do it than let you go for it with kitchen scissors. A few hours later, all fears are overcome by a pony that I absolutely love. The final verdict? I keep the hairstyle.