Several months ago, my friend Emily Cook approached me with an idea to collaborate with her on a photo shoot. Emily is a paper maker, and co-founder (with fellow paper maker Flora Shum) of Paperhouse Studio in Toronto. Located in Artscape Youngplace, a converted school-turned-cultural hub, Paperhouse Studio is a magical place, filled with colours and textures and some pretty badass equipment for all types of papermaking.
Emily's idea was simple yet brilliant: she wanted to start making handmade paper hair fascinators, and she wanted me to create some hairstyles for her to showcase them! I was of course totally keen to take part, and after a few months of scheduling challenges (we're busy ladies!) we finally got together on Monday, August 18th for some creative collaboration.
Emily sent me some photos of her fascinators in advance so that I could plan styles around them, and it's a good thing that she did, because I had originally planned a whole vintage theme, but when I saw how modern and ethereal the pieces are, I completely changed my mind!
Emily and I are very fortunate to be friends with a multi-talented visual artist, Stephanie Avery, who generously offered her services as photographer, and four of my lovely friends cheerfully loaned me their hair for the afternoon. We're both extremely grateful to Steph and to Liz, Amanda H, Amanda S, and Kenin for helping us out with our project!
The afternoon went like this: Steph arrived just as I was finishing up with Liz, my first model, and went outside with her to find some fun locations for photos, and in the meantime, I began styling Amanda H's hair. Once she was done, it was her turn to go out with Steph while I began Kenin's hair, and so on! It was a pretty good system and I think Steph got some incredible shots in the areas surrounding Artscape Youngplace.
I wanted the various looks to reflect realistic bridal styles while at the same time complementing Emily's designs. I wanted a variety (not all updos, not all curls) so I chose a loose braided updo for Liz, flowing curls with fishtail braids for Amanda H., a modern take on a 1920s faux bob for Kenin (I've been watching a lot of Downton Abbey lately!), and a low chignon with pincurl details for Amanda S.
I had so much fun with this photo shoot - Emily was totally game for anything, and her pieces are so beautiful that it was really easy to find styles to allow them to shine. After I was finished styling Amanda S's hair, since she was my final model I got to come along on the photo shoot with Steph and see the process (and provide touch ups and fascinator changes as needed).
This is the first summer in years that I've had legitimately long hair. I'm really enjoying having long hair, because it gives me a lot to play with (and experiment on, rather than using my friends as guinea pigs for new techniques). I wanted to write a blog post about summer hair styles, so out of curiosity I just Googled "summer hair" and this is what the Googles gave me:
Um. Right. When it's 30 degrees outside and I'm walking the dog or running errands or attempting to practice violin in my non-air-conditioned house, the last thing I want is a curtain of curls essentially acting as a fur stole around my neck. Don't get me wrong, those styles are all gorgeous! And of course, when it comes to wedding styles, we're all able to handle a little neck sweat for the greater good, am I right, ladies? But on a daily basis, I prefer to keep cool as a cucumber (as cool as any cucumber would be in 30 degree heat which "feels like" 42 with the humidex). So! What's a girl to do? It's very tempting to just toss my hair up into a ponytail and think nothing more of it but I simply will not settle for that. And what's the point of having gorgeous long hair if it's just gonna hang limply from the back of your head? Here are some of my solutions to the age-old Ponytail Problem.
Ah, the bun. Big, fluffy sock buns have been experiencing a renaissance recently, and frankly, I'm quite pleased about it! And I'm not talking about that lazy "oh, I was making a ponytail but then I got depressed so I didn't pull it through all the way" knob thing that we've all been guilty of. It's tempting, I know! But I promise you, making a pretty bun is hardly more complicated - put your hair in a ponytail wherever you want your bun to sit, tease the $&%@ out of the ponytail, then smooth it around the base in a bun shape, pin, and you're done. Or, you can look up one of the five kajillion sock bun tutorials on youtube, sacrifice a sock to the Bun Gods, and whip it up into a dainty little sock bun instead! Voila, it seriously takes five minutes. Plus sock-sacrificing time.
Yeah. Braiding. Have I mentioned I love braiding? Seriously. And, once you've practiced it, it becomes so quick, it hardly takes longer than a ponytail. This one here looks super impressive because it's a Dutch braid, which is essentially an inverted French braid. And it's extra interesting because it's a trendy side braid! Win-win. I'm actually wearing my hair exactly like this today, as a matter of fact! Anyway, this style is a winner for summer because it looks fancy, it's easy to do, and it keeps the hair off the back of your neck. Done.
(image source + tutorial)
This one is cute too! Look at that lil' bun! Aww. See how the braid turns this otherwise super-simple-looks-like-you-didn't-bother-at-all style into an interesting statement? Imagine it without the braid. Now look at the real thing. See? Exactly.
(image source + tutorial)
Okok. I know I badmouthed curls at the beginning of this post. But! This is a wonderful compromise which will keep you cool AND look elegant at the SAME TIME. Another Dutch braid crawls diagonally from above the ear across the neck to keep your hair nicely gathered to one side, but you still get the beautiful texture of curls over your shoulder. This is one of my favourite styles for going out and actually, I've performed a couple recitals wearing this style too because it's a perfect way to ensure my hair won't get stuck under (or in... or on...) my violin on my left shoulder. Woo!
(image source + tutorial)
Uh... THE PONYTAIL
Haha! You didn't think I was serious about forbidding a ponytail in the summer, did you? PERISH THE THOUGHT. However. There are so many cute and easy ways to make your ponytail interesting that there's no excuse for doing a naked ponytail for anything other than yard work or pole dance class. EXHIBIT A: the "inverted ponytail" or, as fellow children of the 80s/90s and I think of it, the "topsy tail". Yeah I have an off-brand topsy-tail in my hair kit (and a mini one!!) and I know how to use it! It's such a great way to add interest and dimension to a ponytail without adding more than 5 seconds to your prep time. And you don't actually need a tool, despite what those 90s infomercials would have you believe. Just part the hair behind your elastic from underneath, grab your ponytail through it, and pull. Done. Bonus points for doing multiple topsy-tails or making a bun at the end... the options are like, totally limitless.
Oh hello, braids, long time no see! Braids are your friend. Use them to enhance your ponytail! Bonus points for teasing your hair at the crown to get nice fluffy volume like in this photo! Purty.
Another great way to add interest and style to your ponytail is to slap a scrunchy on there! It's so - no, I'm just kidding. Don't do this. I know they probably sell them at American Apparel but like, why? Why, you guys?? Just no. Maybe I'll eat my words in ten years when the Scrunchy Revolution finally hits Kitchener, but until then, leave the scrunchies buried in your high school hair accessory collection with your butterfly clips and velcro hair jewel thingies. Yeah, you know the ones.
DECEMBER 2021 EDIT: Welp, I'm eating my words. Scrunchies are back, baby!! And so are butterfly clips? God I'm old.
So there you have it, I hope that these tips help keep you cool and stylish all summer long! And remember, while these styles are all easy breezy, never attempt an elaborate updo on your own, always hire a professional. ;)
One of my favourite things to watch on YouTube is hair tutorials. There are so many creative people out there who are willing to share their ideas and skills! I'll probably blog about them all over time, but today I just finished practicing a tutorial from Cute Girls Hairstyles, a YouTube channel featuring a very stylish mom, Mindy, who demonstrates her amazing braiding skills on her many gorgeous daughters (and on herself, from time to time). If you're a braiding geek like I am, I highly recommend watching a few of her videos! She has a variety of tutorials, from beginner to advanced, and her instructions are easy to follow. Today I was practicing using this tutorial for a Dutch flower braid. I thought it would be a fun style for a flower girl, or it could be a girly, whimsical look for a bride too!
Poor Angus is still a bit fuzzy from the last updo I gave her.
I like the way it turned out, though Angus's hair is a bit shorter than the girl in the tutorial, so it became more of a side braid situation. I might try this on myself today! We'll see if my hair is long enough yet (I've been growing it out forever, it seems)...
Oh, Angus. We are going to have some good times together.
I finally ordered myself a hairdressing mannequin so that I can experiment at home without constantly having to bug my friends to be guinea pigs! It (she?) arrived today and there was a pretty subtle hint on the box as to what I should call it (her?):
"Angus". It suits her, don't you think? And of course that name will always remind me of this classic Monty Python sketch (my brother and I were practically raised on Monty Python).
Anyway. I figured I might have some fun experimenting and post some of my work on this blog occasionally! Today, after setting Angus up on my dining room table, I did a bit of braiding and came up with something cute.
Simple & classic chignon with a fancy lil' Dutch braid on the side. I do love braiding. If you specifically ask for braids as part of your wedding updo, you'll definitely win my heart! :)
Yesterday I had the wonderful privilege of doing a portfolio shoot with super talented photographer Scarlet O'Neill in Toronto. This was a really fun experience because I've never styled a shoot before, and all of my models were my lovely friends! It was a great learning experience for me, and I can't wait to see how the photos turn out. Scarlet photographed my wedding in March, and the photos are absolutely stunning (I was seriously obsessed with them for several weeks after receiving them) so I know that these are going to be gorgeous too.
I think the most important thing I learned yesterday was that breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. I am a huge breakfast fan - I'll eat it any time of the day, any day of the week - and I usually have a nice hot breakfast every morning. However, as I was in Toronto and I was not entirely sure about parking/travel time/whatever, I didn't quite leave enough time for breakfast, and by the time I got to the salon where I'd rented a chair, it was GO TIME and it was all I could do to stuff a boiled egg in my mouth before getting to work. For five hours straight. I think the combination of starvation and hairspray inhalation left me a little loopy by the time I got to my last model (sorry, Kenin!) so, as if there was any doubt in my mind before, I now know what happens when I skip breakfast. Speaking of which, I could really go for some French toast right now...