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How to nail the ‘70s vibe

At the Wella International TrendVision Award Final 2017 in London, iconic British stylists were asked to present three models as part of an opening show called ‘British by Design’. D&J Ambrose co-founder, Darren Ambrose, explains how he channelled a heavenly homage to ‘70s hair – without it looking like a kitschy cliché

“Whether it’s a haircut back in the ‘70s or an image from today, I think the best way to create the right vibe is to let hair dry naturally and do its thing, then if you want to, you can add in texture where it needs it for support. For example, the Woodstock fringe looks great if you bend it out so it flicks more. If you’re putting in tonged texture, you brush it out vigorously and make it look like it’s been in there for a day at least. When it looks too dressed or pretty, it becomes kitsch, whereas if you let it dry naturally and create natural texture with your fingers, it becomes more gritty and authentic.

“To nail the ‘70s vibe (or any previous decade, really), do your research and really look at how they achieved that look at that point – they may have used fingers and clips to create a wave, or used a roller and brushed hair out with force. The key is to do your homework and look into the true form of the hair and what it was doing at that point. On our long blonde model, if we had tonged this all over it could easily have been a Farrah Fawcett-style finish, which would have looked more twee and obvious. By creating handmade texture, it keeps it much more raw and cool. It’s all about undone and touchable, not too forced.

“I love that the ‘70s are having another fashion moment. If you look at designers like Alessandro Michele at Gucci, what they’ve done the past couple of seasons is amazing. The campaigns are awesome, and a lot of people have found inspiration from them – during Fashion Week, we’ve seen big flares and other takes on the ‘70s but with a different slant, it’s still got a 2017/18 kind of vibe to it.

“When you go back to the ‘60s, ‘70s or even ‘80s, it was a really expressive time, about mixing prints and clashing fabrics and textures, and there’s something to be said for what it can do from a personal point of view when you wear it in terms of confidence. It’s not for everybody, but get it right and it’s uplifting, it looks cool, you can throw on different layers, it’s a fresh approach to fashion and a reaction to society today… and with all the rubbish that’s going on politically, we need something that’s a bit fun!”

How Darren created the looks

The Wedge

I took a classic haircut like a firefly, which I classically graduated leaving length and weight on top. Then I used natural hold mousse to add body and volume, and a medium pro tip to blow dry the hair flat at the root; root dragged but with body towards the perimeter. I worked EIMI Dry Me Dry Shampoo through the roots to give stability and texture, and then on a low side parting (the side where the fringe was sweeping over) on horizontal sections, I used a medium classic tong to create a bend and curl in the hair. Here, I worked it more towards the perimeter area, known in the 70s as the drainpipe, meaning where the roots are straighter and the ends have just got the body. Working a vent brush through the curl, I pulled the curl out to create a geeky ‘70s flick. On the other side, showing the graduation of the haircut in a smooth texture, I brushed it upwards for authenticity.

The Woodstock Fringe

The long blonde hair was razor cut all the way through, taking out occipital to temple area weight using a razor, leaving length to create an elongated long mullet. A similar concept to the firefly was created through the top, leaving weight working down through to a point at the back. I blow dried the top but left the long mullet to dry naturally and then I plaited it to give a more authentic texture. For the fringe, starting at the triangular point at the front, I razor cut the length off to just below the bridge of the nose, and then from that point used the razor to create a ‘C’ curvature, keeping the hair long by the temple area, which is known as the Woodstock, a festival-inspired hippy fringe. To create authenticity, I blow dried the hair using a large pro tip, and again used a vent brush to brush through and create that more static ‘70s ‘far-out’ image that’s more true-to-form. Using Chloe sunglasses helped set the look to that cool, chic, ‘70s vibe.

The Wolf Mullet

This is a razor cut from temple to temple, working down inverted with the razor to keep a closer head-hugging feel, but keeping the length for authenticity and strength. The sides were taken slightly shorter to keep a more authentic geeky self-cut ‘70s vibe. Through the top, we point cut it very short, and razored to create a rough kind of cool texture, putting in a micro fringe and slicing into it to create a back-in-the-day music band feeling. This hair was left to dry naturally completely, we just added mousse, and then after it was dry we used fingers to manipulate the texture so it looked very ‘self-done’. That was the right effect for this guy – he’s someone who would naturally leave it, he wouldn’t blow dry it. He would let it do its thing and show the cut off. This was enhanced by great colour to give a 3D effect – lighter root and darker ends, and then darker pieces on sporadic areas of the hair to create a wolf-like texture.