A Sheitel, How to Style a Stealth Hairpiece!
Jimmy Paul is no stranger to the subject matter—in fact, he’s something of an expert, crediting the wholesale wig catalogues that his hairstylist mother brought home with sparking his interest in the craft. But while the faux pieces he has created for fashion shows like Thom Browne and Adam Selman in recent years remain exaggerated statements meant for the runway, he’s the first to admit that creating an imminently wearable, real-world wig is a different story.
According to Paul, giving a hairpiece everyday ease comes down to a few simple tenets, starting with the straightforward act of trying one on. Taking each woman’s skin tone, eye color, face shape, style, and natural hair color into consideration on set, he began slipping on dozens of different shades and cuts by House of European Hair, starting with his favorite pieces, then taking a 360-degree view. “You should look at the side, the back, and the front—you will know in a second if a wig is wrong,” he explains. Extra attention was paid to the hairline—which should line up with the subject’s own. Bangs, like the ones worn by 27-year-old lawyer Kate Ambrosi, make for easy camouflage, and, says Paul, lace-front wigs work wonders, too. “They’re the Holy Grail—they make the hairline invisible,” explained Paul of the construction that gave 35-year-old actress Valisia LeKae’s frothy Afro its seamless appeal.
For the most part, length and texture should not be deterrents—an originally “granny-ish” blend of short, demurely curled brown hair was morphed into the punkish pixie worn by the seventeen-year-old fashion blogger Mia Sidaros, thanks to a quick cut, a fresh blow-dry, a blast of texturizing spray, and some roughing up with Paul’s hands. Surveying his arsenal of combs, picks, clips, and products, Paul explained that, when working with a human-hair wig, you can cut, color, or style it as if it were growing from your own head. Before taking one to a favorite hairdresser for a bespoke trim, however, consider whether or not they have experience with wigs—because unlike your own hair, “it won’t grow back.” His go-to destinations for a spot-on shearing include Los Angeles’s House of European Hair’s in-house salon and New York City’s Helena Collection studio.
As a general rule of thumb, lightening the color of a wig “is trickier than making it dark,” says Paul of getting the shade right. But his favorite tip for giving hair a more lived-in look is to subtly deepen the roots by misting a quarter-inch section along the part with a darker shade of hair powder, like Bumble and Bumble’s Soft Black Hair Powder, to convey the kind of “rock-’n’-roll look” worn by Sidaros. As for styling, Paul used Bumble and Bumble’s Dryspun Finish—a light, hairspray-like formula—to make 24-year-old dancer Maggie Kurdirka’s shoulder-length blunt cut more “bed-head-y and real.” A mattifying product, like dry shampoo, will also take down synthetic levels of shine while creating of-the-moment slept-in texture.
No matter how you choose to customize your wig, sticking with a cut and color close to your former or current style will make the process simpler. Which isn’t to say that a bold new look has to be any less believable. Suleika Jaouad’s graphic bowl was “a major statement,” that suited the 27-year-old writer’s urban style. Although, according to Paul, the final step to pulling off a wig is attitude—you should always have fun with it.
Those looking to mimic the tousled tresses of Adi Heyman, the sleek mane of Jeanne Grey, or the editorial work of Felix Fischer should head straight to Zelda Volkov’s stylish Brooklyn salon. The discreet, sun-filled space is run by a team of professionals who ensure a chic, natural finish on their unprocessed European hair pieces. A newcomer to the industry, Volkov is ambitiously rethinking the wig, from creation to cut. Handmade in Ukraine under her watchful eye, the product is designed to “allow you to express your true self.” Recent pop-ups in London, Miami and Los Angeles have created quite the buzz for the East Coast operation. But from the enviable look of their directional cuts, superior texture and signature air-dried waves, Zelda Hair is just getting started.
ZELDA HAIR / @ZELDAHAIR wig brand
BROOKLYN, NY 11213