SILVER HAS NEVER BEEN SEXIER.
FROM ANDERSON COOPER, BILL CLINTON, GEORGE CLOONEY, AND RICHARD GERE – WHOSE 50 SHADES OF GRAY HAVE PROGRESSED FROM “PREMATURE” TO “DISTINGUISHED” – TO SUCH STERLING LEADING LADIES AS JAMIE LEE CURTIS, JUDI DENCH, EMMYLOU HARRIS AND HELEN MIRREN, MODEL CINDY JOSEPH AND IMF MANAGING DIRECTOR CHRISTINE LAGARDE, SILVER MAY JUST BE THE NEW BLOND.
Though perhaps not in bottle-blond-friendly Greenwich. (“I just don’t see it working here,” says color maestro Joel Warren of Warren-Tricomi Salon.)
Apparently, though, it works plenty well for W magazine. The 40th anniversary issue, which features Gere, also portrays the blond Scarlett Johansson with a white streak through a dark mane – think a dash of Cruella De Vil, a pinch of Morticia Addams – and the brunet Keira Knightley with a white-blond ’do that conjures the cool beauty of Kim Novak in “Vertigo.”
It’s one thing to dress up for W, another to go gray in real life. But that’s just what “Fashion Police” correspondent Kelly Osbourne did earlier this year, complementing her new, sleeker bod.
She’s leading the charge of the deliberately silver-streaked set, which included a parade of runway models with designers Karl Lagerfeld, Gareth Pugh and Maria Barros this season.
Time was when women wanted to get rid of “those ugly grays.” (Think Cher in “Moonstruck.”) Now some are dyeing their hair gray, uh, silver. (Technically, gray hair is not gray but hair that is stripped of its original color, so “gray” can actually have tones of silver, white or – the least desired – yellow.)
Perhaps in our post-feminist times, women are just finally realizing they can be what they want to be, including salt and peppered, just as men like President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney have always done.
“Anderson Cooper is naturally gray, as is Bill Clinton. They are letting Mother Nature take its course,” Warren says. “They look good and are lucky to have a silver tone to their hair.”
Still, the woman who goes gray naturally or otherwise is bucking decades of experience. In 1950, 7 percent of women dyed their hair. Today, it’s around 95 percent. That’s because in the 20th and 21st centuries, gray hair has been associated with decline and lack of vigor, in men as well as women. (Hence the popularity of Grecian Formula and Just For Men – Touch of Gray.)
Women, who carry the beauty standard, have particularly felt the pressure to remain youthful. “Going Gray” author Anne Kreamer has even coined a word for it – “hair-colorism.”
Yet as the population ages and women attain more power in the workplace, many are OK with gray, like Essie Weingarten, founder of Essie Cosmetics, and Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman. Indeed, Fargo actually goes to Warren-Tricomi Salon for the sharp bob cut that adds edge to her natural hair.
“Jamie Lee Curtis, Emmylou Harris, Linda (Fargo), Judi (Dench) and Ruby Dee are all naturally gray. It takes confidence to embrace it,” Warren acknowledges, adding, “these women are lucky to have a nice tone of gray hair. Not everyone has that shade of gray.”
Or the skin, skin tone and bone structure to carry it off.
If you do decide to go gray, “there are ways of highlighting the hair to transition it,” Christopher Noland of the Christopher Noland Salon in Greenwich says. “It’s all about the individual.”
Going gray naturally is one thing, Warren says, dyeing your hair gray, another.
“This look cannot last and needs constant maintenance. To get the look, you need to strip hair of all its color and then use a gray toner. This leaves hair in very poor condition. If you have a beautiful natural gray tone and you do not want to color your hair, then gray works for you. Otherwise, I would pass on this trend.”
He does, however, like the dark brown hair, accented by a silver streak, flaunted by Stacy London, co-host of “What Not to Wear,” but reminds admirers that “Stacy’s gray streak is natural and something she has had since she was born. It was not added artificially.”
Gray, though, may be here to stay.
“What I find women are constantly redefining is what is appropriate for them,” Noland says. “It’s not about what’s in style. It’s not about what’s in fashion. And I think that a lot of women opt to just go with their natural hair color.
“I think it’s not necessarily people feeling like they don’t want to color their hair or they’re concerned about the chemicals. I think it’s people wanting to be the best that they can be.”
Visit Warren-Tricomi at 1 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich. Call (203) 863-9300.
Visit Christopher Noland Salon at 124 Greenwich Ave., Greenwich. Call (203) 622-4247