2019's Trickiest Haircut Has Arrived: Would You Get "The Shag"?

All-star cast and whiplash-fast plot twists aside, one of our favourite takeaways from Netflix’s Russian Doll was indisputably Natasha Lyonne’s hair. As feisty, insouciant and spirited as Lyonne’s character Nadia herself, the tousled, mid-length-and-half-a-fringe ‘do has caused a resurgence in that trickiest of hairstyles: “the shag”.

Of course, Lyonne was in no way the first: Joan Jett, Anita Pallenberg and Stevie Nicks were all forerunners. But in Russian Doll, “the shag” takes on a life in itself. Every time Nadia grips that all-too-familiar bathroom sink, each frantic midnight run through the city and for all epiphanies of her misspent youth, her hair is there, resplendent even when dishevelled.

But it’s a notoriously tricky look – piecey, high-maintenance and dangerously close to mullet territory. Vogue grilled three master hairstylists for their take on the trend…

Do it, says Larry King

Famous for his superlative curl-cutting skills, King gives “the shag” a big thumbs up. “I’ve done quite a few cuts like it. It’s amazing if you have loads of curls and natural texture in the hair, especially because a lot of curly hair types think they can’t have a fringe, and they can,” he explained.

Can straight and fine hair ever dream of such glory? Yes, according to King. “If you’ve got fine hair, it goes more Chrissy Hynde, or 1970s Jane Fonda. It’s a really cool, defiant cut, and it can actually make fine hair look thicker because the fringe just brings in some weight.”

However, wallflowers need not apply. “It is an edgy haircut,” conceded King. “And if you’re not going to really rock it, it’s not for you. Personally I think it looks cooler the more slept-in it gets, but there is some styling involved – using a diffuser to maximize your curls, adding some soft product through the ends to stop it looking dry. It’s very cool and current, but the more natural texture you have, the easier it will be.”

If you’ve got it, flaunt it, says Luke Hersheshon

Styling supremo and all-around master of done-undone hair, Hersheshon has cut many a “shag” in his time. “I’ve been cutting Bella Freud’s hair for years into a similar style, and I did one for Lindsey Wixon a few years ago, too. It’s actually quite a classic style from the Patti Smith kind of era, and it’s great for hair that has natural movement.”

But; proceed with caution. “Really straight hair does have the tendency to go a bit more mullet-y with it, but it is a much more low-maintenance style than you’d think. You can let it grow out and it just looks cooler and cooler – it’s not for you if you’re prim and put together at all.”

“But if you’re a bit more rock’n’roll and you’ve got that texture? Go for it.”

Wear the hair, don’t let the hair wear you, says Joel Goncalves

The Vogue beauty desk’s jaws dropped collectively when we saw the video of Goncalves cutting legendary makeup artist Mary Greenwell’s hair into a “shag” – with her cutting along with him.

“It really is for everyone, you don’t have to have curly hair,” insisted Goncalves. “I think we’ve been coming in this direction for a long time. It’s the natural evolution of beachy hair, but this is more layered on the inside shape and choppy.”

Is it really for everyone? “Well, maybe not,” Goncalves chuckled. “You have to have the attitude and really wear the style, not let it wear you. There’s no point getting this haircut if you’re then going to spend hours agonising over it every morning. Getting “the shag” is about moving to a more relaxed hair philosophy and you’ve really got to own the rebelliousness of it.”


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