“I feel women in New York are working really hard; juggling everything, like superwomen, but I think it’s now okay, as [it is in London], for these women to have the kind of undone hair that I do,” says George Northwood from his Fitzrovia salon, where a prominent blonde U.K. broadcaster has just vacated the relaxed but famed Northwood hotseat. The infectious charm of the agile, Bikram-loving Northwood in his Off-White hoodies is as famed in London as his hairstyling and his informative salon podcasts. Now, Northwood is joining Moda Operandi’s New Year, Better You program at its Madison Avenue townhouse. Uniting all-star global wellness and beauty brands, the series of events includes hyper-customized facials by Biologique Recherche—“I normally have to travel to Paris for [one], so I’m excited to have them in my hometown this month. I don’t know how I ever lived without P50,” says Moda Operandi cofounder Lauren Santo Domingo. Gucci Westman will also be on hand for custom makeup consultations with her brilliant new line Westman Atelier. In such great company, what will Northwood’s scissors bring to East 64th Street? “Magic!” says Santo Domingo.
“I’m so passionate?about coming to New York”?says Northwood, the unflappable celebrity favorite who famously pulled the Duchess of Sussex’s hair into an undone chignon for her evening wedding reception (the perfect complement to her halter-neck Stella McCartney dress), before she sped off with her prince in the electric Jaguar. Northwood has been dreaming of taking Manhattan since his long-term client and friend Alexa Chung crossed the pond a decade ago.
“I’m quite excited to take my signature messy bob to New York,” Northwood says. Think less Roaring Twenties and more Chung, for whom he recently cut a further 8 inches, redefining her sliced bob. “It’s not layered,” he adds, which can look dated. Instead he favors a technique using sharp scissors. “I wanted to be able to give women the effect of a razor cut, or a thinning scissor—texturized, but without it feeling chewy on the ends.”
Northwood’s residency runs from January 29 to February 2 with cuts by limited appointment. “I cut editorial-looking hair, so it’s not too set, moves very naturally, and effortlessly. And that’s the difference. I cut hair. It’s not box or salon fresh,” Northwood explains, recalling his mother returning from the hairdresser with a style that only looked good on that day—teased to perfection.
Behind the pared-back ease lies a very modern glamour, which Northwood has brought to the red carpet on Julianne Moore (“she always nails it”), Rachel Weisz, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Alicia Vikander, and of course, the Duchess of Sussex. His uber-discretion has defined him among the A-list, but I can say Northwood was glimpsed disembarking on the first Royal Tour of Australia and at the Fashion Awards, where the duchess enthralled in Givenchy couture and a really slick fashion bun. Markle has caught the world’s attention with a style that’s arguably as cool girl as protocol allows, with her hair nodding to a more textured and modern look. No obvious princess hair here. “If you are wearing a huge gown, you can’t be a princess in every area,” says Northwood (good advice for those even without an HRH). “Not everything can do the talking. Either the dress does the talking, or the hair does the talking, or the makeup does the talking.” With awards season around the corner, he is already booked up to spark conversations on the BAFTA red carpet, so seize this royal opportunity in New York while you can.
George Northwood at Moda Operandi Madison, January 29–February 2
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