Magazine article Variety

Hairstyling: Period Tresses

Magazine article Variety

Hairstyling: Period Tresses

Article excerpt

Between a glamorous turn-of-the-century gala in NYC, a blood-soaked ball in Victorian London, a wintertime wedding in 1920s Yorkshire, a sexy '60s Midwest soiree, and a sojourn through a medieval fantasyland, this year's five Emmy nominees for hairstyling for a single-camera series faced many a hair-raising challenge. But as all five of the nominated head hairstylists say, the chance to flaunt period coifs that have taken months to perfect was worth the sleepless nights and 12-hour days. CLAIRE COGHLAN


From dinner at the Ritz to a hospital board meeting, an engagement celebration at a castle to a Christmastime wedding at Downton Abbey, "all the scenes really helped showcase the variety of hairstyles from a different period of time," says Nic Collins of "Episode 9." The series finale culminated with a New Year's celebration that bid adieu both to 1925 and the beloved PBS show.

One of the surprise stars of the farewell episode was the hairdryer, which debuted at Downton and inspired Daisy to cut her hair into a Dutch bob akin to Lady Mary's sleek shingle bob, which was also written into the show at Collins' suggestion.

"We presented the evidence; Julian created the storyline," says Collins of Julian Fellowes, the show's writer-creator. "He's an amazing writer. And it's a joy to help the storylines based on the research. The hairdryer is a great way to show this changing world."

Another high-fashion hallmark of the episode was the headband. "It was inspired by the Tut mania at the time," says Collins, who took home the Emmy last year. "A married woman always wore a tiara inherited from her husband's family as a show of wealth. The headband was the perfect look for the liberated woman of the '20s."


Department head hairstylist Kevin Alexander says "The Door" was an artistically demanding episode that featured "scenes from nearly all the lands we visit in the show." The most challenging part was perfecting the look of the children of the forest.

"Creating the wigs for them - then making them work with [prosthetic designer] Barrie Gower's brilliant designs - was so exciting and away from anything else I've done on the show," Alexander says.

To that end, he experimented with "everything from modern wigs to horse hair to suede cap bases designed to look like ani- mal skins" to crown the heads of the ancient forest folk.

Though demanding, Alexander says the episode beautifully showcases his team's hard work. "I work very closely with Michele Clapton, our costume designer. I take inspiration from her designs and the silhouette of the costumes," explains Alexander, who also conducts his own research to create exotic combinations. "I reference everything from the medieval period to different African and Indian cultures to old '80s fashion shows to present-day trends." After all, says Alexander, "we are a fantasy show."


An elaborate gala ball sets a resplendent stage on which to view all the main characters - and their finery - in "Williams and Walker," an episode named for the real life vaudeville duo Bert Williams and George Walker.

"For most of the show, you see a lot of nurses' caps and hats. The ball takes place at the Waldorf Astoria, so the hair had to be very detailed," says the Cinemax drama's department head hairstylist Jerry DeCarlo. …

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