Alex Brownsell and twins Sam and Lou Teasdale are, at the tender ages of 22 and 25, way ahead of their time. So far ahead of their time, in fact, that they have leapt the generations to join their grannies and gone grey — by choice.
Yes, the colour wheel has finally twirled full circle. Growing numbers of women are no longer eschewing the very thought of grey, but embracing a gunmetal mane with pride — and attitude. As Brownsell and the Teasdales prove, this is not only about silver foxettes going au naturel. This is a youth movement: from east London’s cool set to models on the Paris catwalks, women are throwing the tonsorial rulebook out of the window and going with the grey. Even Victoria Beckham and Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs are getting in on the act by letting their own silver strands peep through.
“We had all been blonde for a long time,” says Brownsell, who tends the tresses of east London’s fast crowd, as well as the X Factor contestants and a few select A-list clients. (She could name-drop Keira Knightley, Alice Dellal and Little Boots.) “We became obsessed with it being as white as possible, a mania we called ‘blonde-orexia’.” Eventually, the fixation led to grey dye. “I really liked it, so, rather than bleaching it out, I kept it,” she says. “I quite like looking like a granny. I dress a bit like one, too.” Brownsell and her fellow hip hairdresser, Lou Teasdale, who run the beauty blog www.beautyisareligion.com, say that after summer’s frenzy for full-on pink, yellow, orange or blue hair, an understated grey is directional, classy and perfect right now.
Pixie Geldof, another fan of the supernan look, agrees. “I’d been blonde for three years and fancied a change,” she says. “I wasn’t thinking about the colour, I just put on a bunch of toner one day, and there it was. It was rad. I didn’t want to do another colour like pink, grey just seemed obvious.”
“Grey has always been seen as distinguished on men,” says Neil Moodie, of Bumble and Bumble. “But on women it’s seen as ageing, which isn’t necessarily true — the model Kristen McMenamy looks incredible [with it]. Normally, if you bleach hair, you can put in an ash tone to stop the brassiness, and it goes a slight grey-blue, so it also has that punk element. This turnaround is really cool.”
The charcoal trend has also been spotted on the catwalks, at Giles Deacon and Gareth Pugh’s latest shows. Always one to cause a stir, Pugh sent his models down the Paris runway with tone-on-tone grey hair and a cadaverous pallor. “We used grey hair for a film we made as a preview to the spring/summer 2010 Paris show, which ran during New York fashion week, then for the show itself, as it sat tonally with the grey clothes,” says Katie Shillingford, Pugh’s show stylist and fashion editor at Dazed & Confused. It wasn’t, she says, intended as any kind of social comment: “It was a visual thing, an idea of tone on tone, and the hair had to be part of that.” Still, hair as a colour-co-ordinated element of any outfit is pushing the fashion boundaries.
Think of this trend as the groovy granny movement. Whether you’re a blonde, a brunette or a redhead, isn’t it time you flouted convention and chose the colour of the moment?