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Glenn Mitchell of Decatur styled hair for the presentation of the Marchesa fall 2007 collection Feb. 5, above, during Fashion Week in New York.
AP photo by Diane Bondareff
Glenn Mitchell of Decatur styled hair for the presentation of the Marchesa fall 2007 collection Feb. 5, above, during Fashion Week in New York.

Decatur woman lives her dream of styling hair in New York at
fashion week

By Danielle Komis
dkomis@decaturdaily.com · 340-2447

Towering models from around the world — Brazil, Sweden, Russia — chatted on their cell phones in their native tongues as Decatur master hairstylist Glenn Mitchell scrambled to get their hair into a messy ponytail before they hit the runway.

She and other stylists — including the world-renowned Alain Pichon — moved quickly to keep up with the fast-paced runway fashion world at New York’s Olympus Fashion Week, which ended Feb. 10.

Mitchell was in her element as she worked the Temperly London and Marcesha shows Feb. 5 and 6.

“It was absolutely amazing,” she said. “I’ve always loved Fashion Week and editorial hair.”

In fact, a poster of a past Fashion Week hangs in her office at Red Jasper Salon Spa, the business she owns in downtown Decatur.

Mitchell, who often watches the Style channel, also owns Laundry, a women’s clothing boutique on Bank Street.

So how did a Decatur hairstylist end up in New York backstage during fashion week?

An unexpected e-mail

The e-mail popped up in Mitchell’s inbox late at night Jan. 1. It sounded too good to be true, but Mitchell hoped it was real.

The next day, she checked into it and learned the e-mail was legit — Aveda, the hair and skin care product line company she’s affiliated with, was looking for stylists to go to New York to style models’ hair backstage for the fall Fashion Week.

So, after narrowly capturing the last hairdresser slot available, she boarded a plane and was in New York City, ready to try her skills at “editorial hair” — hairstyling for the runway and publications.

Even though Mitchell had to foot the bill for the trip and didn’t get paid, she said her family fully supported the decision to go for it.

“My husband said ‘I would never tell you no in a million years,’ ” she said. “He was so excited for me. He knows that’s sort of my life dream.”

Once in New York, Mitchell’s hair journey began with two full days of prep work, taught by head stylists. The volunteers — about 30 including Mitchell — learned proper backstage etiquette, and were reminded that they must follow the lead hairdresser’s instructions, no matter what.

They also learned how to use their irons at runway speed and how to curl a full head of hair in five minutes. Usually, that task takes about 30 minutes, Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s assignments to the Temperly London and Marchesa shows were more than she could have asked for, she said. The work wasn’t as difficult as she expected, and was mainly focused on replicating a look, she said.

“It’s about trying to repeat something with the same look,” she said. “It’s all in the fine details.”

Off the catwalk

Glenn Mitchell of Decatur styled this model’s hair into a messy ponytail for the Temperley London show during Fashion Week in New York on Feb. 6.
AP photo by Bebeto Matthews
Glenn Mitchell of Decatur styled this model’s hair into a messy ponytail for the Temperley London show during Fashion Week in New York on Feb. 6.
Many of the runway models Mitchell saw were only 14 or 15 years old, she said. When they first walk backstage, you would have no idea these young, ordinary-looking girls were models if it weren’t for their height, Mitchell said.

“You don’t see what all the hoopla is about,” she said. After the models go through hair and makeup, “they definitely transform.”

Some of the models come directly from a different show and have only five minutes to get ready.

“It’s utter chaos,” she said. “How you’re supposed to do the hair totally goes out the window.”

Mitchell’s favorite part of the experience was working alongside hairstylist Alain Pichon, who is not only talented but helpful, she said.

To her delight, he chose her and one other stylist to help him perform finishing touches on the models’ “messy ponytails” before they hit the runways, so Mitchell got to work alongside designer Alice Temperly herself.

“I accidentally stepped on her toe at one point,” she confessed.

Next up: spring fashion

Now, Mitchell is planning to return to New York in September for spring Fashion Week, which she already has been invited to attend.

The spring show is supposed to be even better than the fall show because more designers show spring collections, so hairstylists have the opportunity to work in more shows, she said.

It’s funny to think how far she’s come over the years, from a tomboy who wanted nothing to do with hair and fashion to a person obsessed with both, she said.

“My mom still thinks it’s funny,” she said. “She still says she can’t believe I carry a purse, much less collect them, now.

Create your own look

The messy ponytail style Glenn Mitchell created and recreated for models hitting the catwalk at New York’s Fall Olympus Fashion Show can easily be achieved by anyone. Just follow her three easy steps for this trendy, casual look that works for short or long hair.

Daily photos by John Godbey

fashionafter1.jpg - 60003 Bytes
Step 1: Create a deep, clean part, either on the side or in the center and spray head all over with a texturizing spray until damp but not saturated. Mitchell uses Aveda’s Light Elements, a reviving mist that is like “water on steroids,” she said.

Step 2: Scrunch the hair into separated pieces and gather the hair at the nape of the neck, slightly off center with a clear, snag-free band such as Blax bands. Shake the ponytail a little to loosen the hair and to keep it separated in pieces.

Step 3: Scrunch the bottom of the hair to encourage any natural wave and allow it to air dry. If you have any shorter hairs in the front, let them fall out naturally.

Runway terms

Comp card: The card models have that shows a sampling of their photos and information about them

First look: The first outfit a model wears on the runway

Second look: The second outfit a model wears on the runway

Call time: The time a model is supposed to show up before a runway show to get hair and makeup done (usually hours before the show)

Walk time: Actual time of fashion show

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