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Is gray the new black? For hair, it's becoming the latest fashion

February 23, 2015

Models Trena Taylor Brown, left, Rachel Alexandra Greiner, center, and Meg Hauge show off their gray style.

BALTIMORE ó Writer Joan Didion, looking fragile and all of her 80 years under wispy, chalk-white hair, is the new face of Celineís spring 2015 advertising campaign.

Joni Mitchell, signature cheekbones as hard as granite under her long, silver tresses, is the new face of Yves Saint Laurentís Music Project this year, and she is 71. And Dolce & Gabbana is featuring gray-haired models in its spring and summer collections.

Meanwhile, young celebrities like Nicole Richie, Kelly Osbourne and Lady Gaga have all played with gray.

Talk about your "Fifty Shades of Grey."

All sorts of trend reports are calling gray hair a hot look for 2015, for both younger and older women.

But the fact is, for the last couple of years weíve been seeing gray hair on the catwalk and the red carpet.

When model Kate Moss first showed gray streaks in 2010, everybody thought it was a dry shampoo gone wrong. And Nicole Kidman sent thrills though the fashion world with her silvery strands.

Glamour magazine in the United Kingdom even asked if gray hair among the young was the new "granny chic."

This is great news for women of a certain age, who spend an average of about $330 every year hiding their gray because they are afraid it makes them look old or puts them at a professional disadvantage in a work world filled with younger women.

The late Charla Krupp, author of "How Not to Look Old," reinforced that fear when she once said, "When youíre competing for a job with someone whoís 10 years younger or 20 years younger than you are, being gray is the equivalent of wearing a necklace that says, Ď57.í Would you do that?"

But that sentiment hasnít stopped the guys. The notorious double standard is obvious when George Clooney, Ted Danson, David Gregory or Anderson Cooper can go gray with confidence.

Tiki Spruill, master colorist and artistic team member at About Faces Day Spa and Salon, says she has long talks with older clients who want to let go and go gray.

"Itís about what message youíre saying as an individual," she said. "If your decision is about freedom, thatís one thing. But if your decision is about being too lazy to go to a stylist and color your hair every four weeks, then thatís another."

Still, in the last six months, more and more of her younger clients are asking to have their manes colored like the locks of Kelly Osbourne, Pink and Lady Gaga.

"Iím surprised it has caught on so fast," she said. "(Thatís) because the stars are doing it."

Brian Oliver, a hairstylist for Phillip Michael Studio,has also noticed more clients dying their hair gray for fashion reasons.

"Itís younger girls who donít have gray hair but love the look of it," said Oliver, whose work has appeared in fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Vanity Fair. But, he added, gray hair is tricky, especially for older clients who want to get off the coloring merry-go-round.

"It either flatters you or ages you," he said. "It depends on your coloring, complexion or how you carry it off."

Your parents are the reason your hair goes gray. Literally.

Forty appears to be the boundary between prematurely and naturally gray, and your genes have a lot to say about that. Gray hair is the result of follicles at the base of the hair shaft losing melanin, not necessarily the result of teenage children.

Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton, 54, who wears dramatic, long gray locks with obvious pride, said she started going gray in her early 30s and fought it for years. She remembers using two boxes of a natural hair coloring product, only to see the gray hairs pop up in a couple of weeks.

"I just decided this was a battle I was not going to win," she said. "There began my journey. So be it. My plan was, ĎLord, just let it be white and not yellow."

That was more than 20 years ago. Has she ever felt dismissed because gray hair hints at her age?

"Never," she said. "Attitude and presence have a lot more to do with someone thinking that you are older than you are."

Young admirers often tell her than canít wait until they go gray. "Donít rush it, honey," is her reply.

Karen Stokes, executive director of the Greater Homewood Community Corporation in Baltimore, comes from a family where all the women are gray by the time they are in their 20s. She fought it, until she decided that dying her hair was such a bother.

"One of the most liberating things I ever did was stop dying my hair years ago," she said in a Facebook post encouraging other women to not let gray hair be an issue.

She wrote the post in response to an article about a woman who had to cancel her color appointment and was worried about how business acquaintances might judge her. She wrote that it was a problem men donít have.

"I was so steamed about this," said Stokes, 58, who let her hair go gray years ago. "This is only an issue if you let it be."

She said women should link arms and go gray with confidence.

"Should we start a gray revolution?" Stokes asked in a telephone interview. "I am pretty much over this. Now that I know the deal, I have no interest in spending the money ó or the worry."

Stokes said she notices young celebrities like Nicole Richie and Kelly Osbourne coloring their hair in hues of purple and blue and wonders: "Wouldnít it be great if silver or gray was just another color and it didnít equal old?"

 

 



Associated Press