She’s got the look

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Local stylist heading to Fashion Week in NYC

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Jennifer MacDougall will help to add the glam to the glitz at Fashion Week in New York City this September. MacDougall, who works as a hairstylist at the Head Room in St. John’s, has spent the last decade styling around the world in order to earn her place at the event.

Sitting for an interview with The Telegram, MacDougall said she has never been to Fashion Week before. “You cannot get into Fashion Week unless you’re asked,” she said.

Invite in hand, in 2010 she will be part of five-person team working for one of the presenting clothing designers. The team will be dedicated to creating hair designs for the models, while another team will be dedicated to make-up art.

“We’ll find out the (clothing) designer maybe later this week and then we’ll go find out what the clothes are and choose, with the designer, how we’re going to style the hair,” MacDougall said.

It is a similar process to the other shows she has worked since being named North American Haircolourist of the Year at the North American Hairstyling Awards a decade ago. At that time, MacDougall was working at the Head Room while also working with L’Oréal Canada. She subsequently made a move to work with L’Oréal in the United States, always maintaining her connections at home.

“I worked over there two and a half years straight, pretty much, going back and forth, doing my laundry here and working at the Head Room and going over there doing shows. Then after 9/11 came, there was a lot more tighter security at the borders and the recession kind of happened in the States. So then I kind of stayed and did work in Canada instead for a few years,” she said.

Returning to work around Canada actually ended up opening doors for MacDougall for work outside of North America, and she plied her trade in France, Greece and Mexico, to name a few. She did makeovers and hair for photo shoots for Chatelaine, Flare and Elle magazines. While not a working trip, she also attended the 150th anniversary celebrations for L’Oréal in Paris for a little networking.

Her usual trips are work, work, work though. Don’t believe it?

“We just did a big show in Orlando in June and 80,000 hairdressers go to that in three days,” she said. “Think of a conference at Mile One on steroids.”

Think 14 times an average Mile One concert.

“My wake-up call is usually 3:30 (a.m.) or 4 (a.m.), depending on what time we have to be there. We have to be over at the event for 4:30. We have to be on stage by 9 (a.m.) and you have to prepare usually 16 to 18 models, have their hair done, make-up done, clothing done and a lot of times there’s usually rehearsals and meetings, so it’s pretty crazy. It’s not always as glamourous as people think. Like, they think they can come hang out with me and stay in the room with me and it’s all about fashion, fun, make-up and dinners … it’s not like that at all,” she said. “We can be on stage from 9 (a.m.) to about 4 (p.m.) or 5 (p.m.).”

Hair teams switch in and out of the spotlight every hour, but continue to work onstage or off to keep the shows running in high style.

“We don’t always do things that are commercial looks. Think of fashion. If somebody wants to tell you that butterflies are in, they’ll do a full head of butterflies whereas you might have a butterfly on your necklace or on your arm. That’s how it bleeds down to the consumers,” MacDougall said. She was speaking specifically of one hairstyle she worked on.

“We’ll find out the (clothing) designer maybe later this week and then we’ll go find out what the clothes are and choose, with the designer, how we’re going to style the hair,” Jennifer MacDougall

“It’s not wearable stuff a lot of times,” she said of the show work. “(The stylists) do good work in the salon all day long. They want to see something that’s over and above. That’s like what you see on runways too. Fashion week, it’s not always clothes you wear, but you take trends from it and if they don’t put it out strong, it would never be understood.”

MacDougall said she sometimes hears about body image concerns and people objecting to fashion shows. She said young girls should be aware of the amount of time and the work that can be behind a look and a photo and they should know the magazine images are not meant to be for the everyday.

“When you see an image of a model, you always see them as perfect and beautiful,” she said. “But they show up at four or five in the morning with scrunchies in their hair, basketball shorts on, things like that. They’re just normal girls and a lot of them, it’s more that they act sexy when they’re up (in front of the cameras), but that’s not really their style. A lot of them can be tomboys or someone who’s on a basketball team and they’re just typical girls. But when they’re glammed up, they play the role.

“It almost seems like unattainable beauty when they’re done up, when they’re actually pretty normal people.”

MacDougall seems always to be on the move. This year alone, she was in both New York and Toronto in January, took a personal trip to Vegas in March, but has had other professional stops in Ohio, New Jersey, Orlando, Chicago, New York again … “and I’m going to Toronto and then it’s New York again and then it’s Tennessee, then Paris, then New York, all before October. So it is kind of crazy,” she said.

Hello frequent flyer miles.

“I love what I’m doing, but there’s always more. I would love to do photo shoots for models on the cover of Vogue or things like that. I haven’t reached that level yet. I have friends in New York that are doing that, that are working with me on L’Oréal events, so I know it’s not something that I’m not capable of doing, it’s getting the connections and getting the work and getting booked and having the right visa and having a New York state licence for hairdressing and I’m working on all that.”

MacDougall would not say if she was going to make a permanent move to a larger city in the future. “Right now, I have a full clientele who loves me and I love them at the Head Room and that’s great,” she said.

She currently has bookings at the Head Room into December.

Organizations: North American, L’Oréal Canada

Geographic location: NYC, Canada, New York Paris Orlando United States North America France Greece Mexico Toronto Vegas Ohio New Jersey Chicago Tennessee

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