“It was a full-on assembly line of models,” laughed Sam McKnight, recalling the scene backstage at the Dries Van Noten show inside the Palais de Tokyo yesterday afternoon.
The hair pro had his work cut out for him: McKnight was tasked with creating 30 individualized styles that hinged, most notably, on customized curtains of rigid trompe l’oeil bangs and a flurry of plume hair pieces in shades of neon cobalt, crimson, and tangerine, as well as deep onyx.
Steering clear of a neat, polished updo, models with long hair had their finger-raked lengths secured into a low, elastic-tied ponytail looped through itself with ends sticking out, almost like a loose post-workout knot. “I wanted the hair to be wispy, echoing the outline of the feathers as they [waft] down the runway,” explained McKnight, who either wove the feathered pieces into the base of the low-slung twists (as seen on auburn-haired Sara Grace, with bursts of matching feathers trailing behind her) or pinned just above one ear. But the plumage was taken to the next level for girls with pixies and buzz cuts, who wore dense, close-cropped crowns of monochrome feathers like modern fascinators—including Adut Akech, whose headpiece was a scene-stealing confection fashioned from bright Yves Klein–blue feathers.
The inspiration behind all McKnight’s imaginative feather adornments? The dainty chapeaus worn by Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor—but with a subversive twist. And that’s where the off-kilter, abbreviated bangs (slightly mussed with mists of McKnight’s Cool Girl Barely There Texture Mist), which hung above the graphic jet-black eyes by makeup artist Peter Philips, came into play. “We needed a bit of toughness,” he explained of the eye-level punk twists. “I wanted it to look like the girl just hacked off her own bangs.”
Therein, perhaps, lies the true genius of the look, which was enough to inspire even trepidatious types to reach boldly for the shears: “This is a woman who does exactly what she wants,” confirmed McKnight of the idiosyncratic fringe, which encourages imperfections—and rewards a fearless hand. “She doesn’t care what anyone thinks—everything she does is for herself.”
This article first appeared on Vogue.com