One in a series on the clothes that had a moment at Paris Fashion Week.
PARIS — The hair is always angry at Junya Watanabe. The hair is always sad at Haider Ackermann. And so the clothes in both these collections always seem just a little bit more complicated because the woman wearing them seems more complex.
She’s not one who goes for flowing locks or a controlled bun. Dreadlocks and braids would take her into murky cultural terrain, and she is omni-cultural or anti-cultural. She is a little bit of everything or she is nothing at all.
The hair at these shows doesn’t flatter anyone — not in a beauty-school, ambush-makeover way. This woman is not trying to be pretty. Or sexy. Or political. She is just being. Isn’t it challenging enough doing that?
A lot of crazy things happen on the runway that have nothing to do with the clothes. There are all kinds of theatrics and drama. There have been dogs and goats and wolves. Yes, live wolves. Stylists have painted models like kabuki performers, put light boxes on their head and asked them to balance atop heels cut like ragged cliffs.
But nothing seems so intimately transforming as what happens to models’ hair. It has been braided and teased and fried into a frizzy cloud. Dreadlocks have caused controversy. Weaves were once an issue. Kinky curls have been a mark of rebellion until now they are a sign of fashion’s broadening embrace.
Models have been dehumanized with lookalike wigs that turn them into a line of clones. They have been infantilized with sweet pigtails. They’ve been turned into Marie Antoinette.
But the hair at the fall 2018 presentations of Watanabe and Ackermann has been as it always is: just downright unflattering hair. Hair that is meant to make models look. . . not quite so much like models. It’s intended to make them, if not quite unattractive, definitely imperfect and authentic. As if they just rolled out of bed this way.
Watanabe loves for his models to have punk hair or street hair. He likes it full of spikes and sharp angles. He likes aggressive hair even when his clothes are not. His models always look a little bit angry even if, this season, they are wearing giant cuddly sweaters and massive blazers that make them it seem as though they are young girls who’ve wandered into a parent’s closet.
For Ackermann, who always presents his gothic romance of a collection through a cloud of mist or smoke, the models appear to have been resurrected from some gloom, set free from grief.
His colors always have undertones of gray and brown. They are always a little be dirty or impure. And so the hair suggests that the women who walk his runway have been through something sad or painful. But they have survived.
They come to you with their murky colors, with their coats tied around their waists, like otherworldly nomads looking for more welcoming ground.
The hair is not pretty because their lives aren’t shiny, bouncy and fresh. They aren’t have a bad hair day. They’re battling through a complicated, difficult day. And surviving.
Also at Paris Fashion Week: