As a native New Yorker, no matter where I am in the world, if someone asks if I am going to the city, I always assume they are referring to NYC, because to a New Yorker, there is no other city. A funny thing that happened to me about 10 years ago in Australia when Rodney Cutler and I were headlining at the Australian Hair Expo in Sydney.
The opening night included Mark Hayes with Sassoon’s opening, Shane Henning (multi-time winner of the prestigious Australian Hairdresser of the Year award) next, then Rodney Cutler, an editorial stylist named Pasquale Ferrante, and me as the headliner. However, before our segment in the show, there was going to be an on-stage interview in front of 4,000 hairdressers with Rodney, Pasquale and myself conducted by the owner/publisher at the time of a very cool Australian magazine called Culture Magazine.
After prepping all day, it was time for our show to start and the interviews to begin. Anthony Winterhalter, the publisher of Culture, asked Rodney about being an Australian hairdresser (who was now a successful salon owner) and a couple questions about New York City Fashion Week.
Then it was my turn. Anthony turned to me and asked, "What was the importance of Sex In The City?" I paused. It was one of those moments when everything became so quiet you could hear crickets.
“It made roots fashionable," I said. "Carrie was drinking the right drink, a Cosmopolitan, wearing the right shoes, Manolo Blahniks, and she was wearing the right dress because she loved Oscar De La Renta. So if her roots were supposed to be done, she would have had them done. She made it fashionable.”
My buddy Rodney leaned over and whispered, “That’s the best blanking answer, ever.” And at that moment, I knew I hit something, but I never could have predicted the magnitude of its impact.
Prior to Sex In The City, many TV shows have inspired fads, trends and even high-end fashion. From Mork’s suspenders to Farrah and Jennifer’s signature hair cuts, and there are countless examples of this, including Mary Tyler Moore showing what a new young working woman could do and be.
But for fashion, the impact of these looks rarely lasted for more than a few years, with maybe the laggards stretching it out into almost a decade. Never before can I think of a trend/image/look that has had the impact of Carrie’s from Sex In The City.
Prior to Carrie’s look, roots where NOT fashionable. In fact, prior to Carrie, roots were unfashionable with the exceptions of Debrah Harry and Madonna, but even they were not doing it and elevating the look to high fashion like Carrie.
Roots had been widely considered trashy, unsophisticated and low-class. Never before would you picture a woman wearing the right dress, with the right shoes, drinking the right drink, having regrowth.
And that was just the beginning of what has evolved as a long-standing trend that has gone from Carrie to Giselle to a host of others. It has even spawned techniques and names like the ombre, sombre, hair painting, root or base drops, and lived-in color.
The reality is that this trend hit at the right place and right time, and because of this, it will soon be 20 years old. Sex In The City premiered in 1998, just as our world was beginning to step into the digital age.
In the late 1990s, digital cameras became consumer-friendly, so more people purchased them. This started to make it harder to hide roots. Then in 1998, Helmut Lang decided to show in NYC before Paris, London or Milan, and Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and others also decided to show too, creating a seismic shift to NYC for fashion elite.
All of a sudden, New York was the hottest city in the world and more people were taking pictures. Sex In The City was the hottest show and what evolved was this effortless beauty with the option to color hair only when you wanted.
Now almost 20 years later, roots still won’t hold clients back fashionably. This is the longest I can remember a TV show or anyone’s signature look influencing, evolving and becoming a staple like the timeless bob haircut.
I wonder what’s next? As time continues to speed up with technology and everywhere we go someone is taking a picture of us, the fact is, roots are and always have been since the beginning of hair color; Carrie just made them a fashion staple.