Chop, Chop: Model Patricia van der Vliet’s Fashion Week Transformation


Yes, there will be clothes—swaths of cashmere, shearling, and fur that may make you want to skip spring and summer altogether—but the upcoming fall collections are bound to deliver another kind of seasonal thrill: the Radical Model Makeover. New York, after all, is the first city to kick off the phenomenon known as Fashion Month—and as such, it’s often the stage for the industry’s most interesting faces to debut a transformational new look. Among those taking the plunge this season is Dutch model Patricia van der Vliet, whose refined blonde beauty—a mix of effortless Nordic cool and Old World patrician elegance—has made her a regular on runways like Valentino, Lanvin, and Alexander McQueen.

“I’m so ready!” she cried on Thursday evening at the West Village’s Whittemore House Salon, where she had arrived for the purpose of dyeing her below-the-shoulder hair dramatically dark—and then cutting it into a razed chin-length bob.

“Last night, my mother sent me a picture of when I was a little girl with long blonde curls. I think she’s nervous, but I’m really not,” she added with a good-natured laugh as she settled into colorist Victoria Hunter’s chair for the first phase of her new look.

To take van der Vliet from “a pale blonde to really rich espresso brown,” without turning her accidentally green, Hunter had to first restore the underlying red in her hair with a single process of rich auburn. Once the canvas had been prepped, she began painting on a creamy “deepest, darkest, not-quite-black” pigment, and then layered yet another shade of chocolate brown at the roots and throughout the hair for dimension.

Nearly three hours later, the first half of van der Vliet’s transformation—which also included a set of darkened face-framing brows—was complete. Just as she was stretching her legs, the editorial hairstylist Eugene Souleiman—having just raced over from a day shooting with Vogue—arrived at the salon for phase two.

“If you’re going to cut your hair off, why not really cut it off,” he said with a twinkle, giving her a hug before sitting her right back down in the chair and slicing into the back of her hair with a brand-new set of shears.

“The idea is longer, blended layers on the top and short at the nape of the neck,” said Souleiman, who described the look as something between “a man’s 1940s barbershop cut and David Bowie on cover of the Low album, but it’s still versatile enough that she can play with it. It can really be classic, it can be 1950s, rock’n’roll, gothic—it really ticks all the boxes.”

“I can’t believe how much I love it! I definitely feel more grown-up,” said van der Vliet, noting how her blue eyes looked brighter and her skin looked healthier against the rich backdrop of her new color. “I think it brings out a different side of me,” she remarked of the cut, before dashing out the door for an ice-skating date at the Standard hotel. “I’m usually someone who loves a floaty, feminine Valentino dress—but I’m going to have to revisit my wardrobe now to see what else goes with my hair!” 

By: Catherine Piercy

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