Saturday, November 12, 2011

Hair cut

Got to the point where the only way I could tolerate my hair so long was to tie it up hard then put it up in a thing with a spike through it, which device probably has a name but I don't know it, it's made of leather and wood and looks like the prototype might have been found in a bronze age archaeological site as part of some female hunter-gatherer's grave goods.  Also, when it gets past a critical length it starts falling out and blocking the plug hole.  

So off I went to the hairdresser, one of a chain with a particularly horrible yellow and grey décor, whose main attraction is you don't make an appointment, and rarely have to wait more than half an hour which is about the limit of my tolerance for reading old copies of Paris-Match (I seldom remember to bring a book, but anyway I see hairdresser's and doctor's waiting rooms as a salutary opportunity to dip my toe into the cultural milieu of my host country via its popular magazines; as I say, the wait in both places is not usually too long but usually quite long enough).

But the hairdressers are always nice, and not frumpy or incompetent, and this time I got quite a trendy young one.  I told her I was fed up with  the length, and would like quite a bit off.  About to here? she indicated roughly the level of my chin.  Fine, I said, then tentatively asked if perhaps she could cut the back shorter  than the front, just by way of a change...

Her eyes lit up:

 'Carré plongeant!* C'est très à la môde!'

Well that's a first, I thought.  She set to work with energy and a will, darting and snipping with her little scissors.  How blithely we trust hairdressers, I thought, with their razor-sharp blades and dagger-like points around our necks, ears, eyes and throats.  The tips of her scissors scored and prickled my neck but never hurt; she was clearly enjoying herself.  Could she cut it quite short at the back? she asked, and what about the fringe (bangs if you're American, which always sounds bizarre to me), could she do that at an angle? 

Why not, I said, so delighted with the novel experience of a hairdresser enthusiastically engaged with my hair,  rather than just sighing boredly and asking why don't I colour it? The best bit was when she did the sides, holding a wide section down and drawing the scissors through all of it on the diagonal with a satisfying slicing sound, just like a haberdasher cutting through a length of calico.  She shaped it and dried it with a big round brush and generally sculpted it in ways I didn't imagine possible with my grizzled mop.  I left with a spring in my step, invigorated by the fresh breeze on the back of my neck, and allowed her to sell me an expensive thing of conditioner to help maintain it.

It's hopeless, of course.  I have neither the kind of hair, the kind of face not the kind of life that permits a  très à la môde, beautifully sculpted carré plongeant hair-do.  Within twenty-four hours the whole is a mass of different length ends blowing about in the wind, the cow-licks on either side of my forehead have re-established themselves with a vengeance and the spiffy sharp points at the corners of the plunging square are hanging down all on their own like pot-hooks.  I knew it would happen, but I don't care, we had fun, and it's still so good to feel the air on the back of my neck again.

The photos were taken on the same day, while it was still just about holding together, in the rather unpleasant livid light of the old downstairs bathroom. 



* Literally a 'plunging square'; I've tried to find a translation, the best seems to be 'angled bob'.  My mum used to talk about shingled hair, from the 1920s, which I always liked the sound of.

18 comments:

The Crow said...

I like your new cut, Lucy.

Over here, the fringe is raggedy, falls into jagged points. My latest cut gave me a fringe. Next time I post, I'll include a photo.

I never understood why we call them bangs, either.

Zhoen said...

I do like a dramatic A-line, with the back very short, and the sides following the chin line. It is a very smart cut. Take the dryer to it now and again, the cut will still be there, enjoy.

the polish chick said...

you look lovely! try a big round brush when drying and it'll be beaten into submission.

one thing that i find a lost art, is hairdressers cutting hair to the client's hair type, face shape etc. generally now, they just give you the cut you ask for without regard for whether your hair is fine or coarse or curly or poker straight and although you emerge looking stellar, it all comes out in the wash, as it were.

i finally found myself a hairdresser who isn't particularly chic, and who's atrocious at the styling game, which means that i walk out looking so-so, but her cuts are fabulous and last all the way until the next one, and that is a rare find.

if you're ever in my neck of the woods, i can hook you up.

Barrett Bonden said...

Hair has figured regularly in my blog and (from a woman's point of view) in both completed novels. With the WIP novel I went for broke and a woman's hair dominates the first ten pages. The subject is fascinating because hairstyles are not simply a way of enhancing appearance but have the power to suggest different types of character (bouffant - generosity of spirit, eton crop - heartlessness, pony tail (loose) - irritating tendency towards the juvenile, pony tail (constrained) - good manual skills, full bob - a louche potential, etc, etc) with - colour sub-dividing all these categories. Provided a woman has sufficient hair, £75 in her handbag and a venturesome spirit she can - in simplistic terms - emerge from a salon as a sinner or a saint, based on an assessment at 3 m distance, no nearer. I speak as a man of course and so I should. Women's judgement of other women's attractiveness is as notoriously unreliable as men judging other men. And here's why. Forty years ago the feminine consensus would have been for Valerie Hobson while the male consensus would have been Brigitte Bardot. Women believed (assuming they were telling the truth) that a touch of aristocracy tipped the scale while men... well, we don't need to go into that. And the typical hairstyles of both actresses confirmed the views across the gender divide.

Referring to your cut as merely "short at the back" greatly undersells that part of the style -forgivable I suppose given that you judge yourself from the front. But second parties are not so limited. As far as I can tell the rear has been cut to create a parabolic arch framing the back of the neck - a master-stroke from whoever dreamed it up first since neck-backs (Hmm, it's a composite that won't take off) are nearly always assets that shouldn't be covered.

I'd be interested to know Tom's reaction to this cut, assuming he can be persuaded to be entirely objective. The irony is pride of place usually goes to the cuttee's views whereas this is certainly a case when the onlooker sees most of the game. "I don't feel comfortable with it; it makes me feel too old, too young, too tarty, too old-maidish, too hoydenish" (There. that makes us for "neck back") is just one vote. Almost certainly it will be swept away by the power of democracy.

Fire Bird said...

your bathroom light makes you almost a redhead in the second shot! I like this - dare I say it makes you look rather french?!

Bruce Taylor, a.k.a. Catalyst said...

Hah! Fire Bird has it! French, indeed.

Tom said...

In answer to BB's comment, I will break my rule of not commenting on this blog, and say that I cannot be entirely objective. When the trip to the hairdresser's was announced I was asked, "How would you like it done?" My response was, "Feel free!" Lu's choice was perfect. Somehow the shape of the cut and the sloping lines just fits her face ideally.

Of course, as this cut lays bare that delicious nape of her neck, and as you know I am about 6 very convenient inches taller than Lu...... Well of course I cannot be entirely objective; but then I wouldn't want to be!

Barrett Bonden said...

Tom: Remembering "nape" would have saved me from a very ugly word. Thanks. You are the man for whom "upon a peak in Darien" was written.

marja-leena said...

Looks lovely, elegant and still somewhat casual, Lucy! I did wish to see more of your face, you tease. I agree with BB that the back of the head and nape are important too, which is why I love my swing out vanity mirrors. Gald to see Tom's comment here too.

Rosie said...

Looks great to me. I'm not brave enough to get my neck out..

herhimnbryn said...

Great hair cut Lucy. Shorter hair rules ok!

Rouchswalwe said...

The Japanese believe that a woman's beauty resides in the nape.

earlybird said...

Brave!

I badly need a cut now but am hesitating because when I complained that I could no longer 'coiffe' myself, the Boyfriend suggested perhaps I should find a new hairdresser. hmmm. (and that from someone who rarely makes those sort of comments) I know he's right but I've known the one I've got for so long now... and she comes to the house which means I get to avoid thumbed copies of Paris Match or Femme Actuelle...and she's quite cheap... but it is true that every other haircut is a bit of a disaster.

Still, looking on the bright side, the last one was catastrophic so the next one should be ok.

Possibly.

I'd like to be brave enough to just wander in to a 'salon'...

Dick said...

Looking good, around the camera behind which you've concealed yourself!

Lucy said...

Thanks all, you all seem to be much more up to speed on hairdressing than I do.

PC - I have always longed for such a hairdresser, one who will not ask what I want but decide for me from a position of discernment. But I have come to doubt that such a one can ever be found for my particular hair and face, the challenge is just too great.

Mouse said...

this is why my hair is now hanging halfway down my back in unruly curls and my self-cut fringe has a drunken slant

perhaps hairdressers should ask about our lifestyle before clipping our curls?

marly youmans said...

Barrett is very amusing on women's hair! Think we could argue some of those shapes... I grew seeing a lot of "big hair" down South. Well, shan't get myself into trouble.

I like it, I believe, though I would like it even better with a face, Lucy!

Bro. Bartleby said...

“Square plunging!” Oh my!