Saturday 10 December 2016

Is it time we blondes gave up the bottle?

Sinead Van Kampen

Published 29/04/2010 | 14:15

Face of Dolce & Gabbana make-up, Scarlett Johansson
Face of Dolce & Gabbana make-up, Scarlett Johansson

Agyness Deyn did it. Nicole Kidman has done it and Scarlet Johanson is now red in more than just name. When it comes to this summers colour, everyone on the catwalks seems to be going from blonde to red. Since red hair is a natural resource we Irish are particularly rich in, will we all be pleased enough with the red renaissance to take up the trend.

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The look is one that has come about from street style influences, according to Irish style writer Anne Marie Boyhan:

"Influences work upwards, so it was only a matter of time before the industry picked up on red hair and pale skin as a distinct natural look. As for us Irish, I always wondered whether the whole redhead thing was just a tourist ploy to make us cailins look pure."

Other fashion insiders agree, Laura Whiston, who as the fashion blogger Whisty keeps a watchful eye on Dublin street trends, thinks that the rebirth has come about as the antidote to wag-led lads-mag stereotypes.

"The raw beauty of red is something really different. This season, everyone seems to want the natural look. For magazines and the media the look is great because it's a sexually confident, high impact theme. Nobody wants to open a magazine and look at over-coiffured extensions over and over again, so red is rare and intriguing."

Since we're now as likely to take our style cues from fashion icons like Florence Welch and Beth Dito as we are from the bombshell blonde stereotypes, will red be as popular on South Georges Street as it is on Fifth Avenue. Have blondes had their day ?

When I broach the subject at Solas Bar on Wexford St, the response is a little more cautious. Katherine Logan, a natural redhead by birth but brunette by vocation, thinks the look is coming back, but that sex bomb stereotypes still belong to blondes.

Having gone copper for the summer, she doesn't feel the look has changed peoples negative perceptions of red hair and pale skin too much. She also reluctantly agrees, as a bar manager, that blondes still get served drinks that little bit quicker by her male co-workers.

An accident with a bottle of blonde dye recently left Alex Hillen-Moore with no option but to adopt this years in-colour. Far from being the disaster she anticipated, she's fast growing into the role of confident redhead:

"What struck me from the off was how both men and women looked at me. Because of it's rarity, red seems to have the ability to have both men and women staring. I wanted blonde because I wanted a change, something drastic, so red wasn't something I planned, but it could well be a colour I stay with."

Christian Shannon, a senior stylist at Dublin's Brown Sugar salon, is a little more skeptical on the subject of Irish women binning the blonde. As a celebrity salon, the Brown Sugar clientele is as much about fashionista as it the stylishly well heeled. He thinks, for most women, red is a bit more summer trend than a wholehearted conversion.

The red trend works for younger fashionistas who love the distinct, striking look of red hair colours, according to Christian. However, he doesn't see too many Irish women ready to give up the blonde bottle just yet.

Whilst he likes the look, he tells me with some caution that depending on your skin tone, it's a tricky one to get right.

He also re-affirms to me a universal truth, that I had managed to forget as a bottle blonde amongst the redheads, blonde is not a colour, it's more of an institution.

Despite this, such is the current popularity of all things red that when Chinese Vogue declared the look to be this years only colour, the feature inspired such a storm amongst style conscious Chinese that in the fashion capital of Shanghai, you couldn't buy a bottle of decent dye for love nor money.

As the look is set to dominate in 2010, and natural skin and make-up trends define this seasons key looks, maybe redheads will get served a bit more smartly at the bar.

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