the backstory behind hairdressing's reigning one-name wonder
The story of the "undercut," according to its creator, coiffing star Christiaan Houtenbos, began with a little subterfuge. It was 1984 and Christiaan was on set with photographer Arthur Elgort, model Bonnie Berman, and American Vogue editor Polly Mellen. "We tried to sneak it past Polly, but I was in Europe with an American buzzer and the thing made an enormous noise," the hairstylist recalls. Still, a nod of approval from Rei Kawakubo and a high ponytail that revealed the shorn section underneath on the Comme des Garçons runway permanently secured the look's place in the annals of hair history.
"There was stuff going on," Christiaan says humbly of the impact he had on hairdressing as its resident rebel through the seventies and eighties. "In retrospect, these things are iconic moments." He's certainly had his fair share of them. As Calvin Klein's mane man when nothing came between the style set and the designer's denim, Christiaan palled around with Steven Sprouse, Grace Jones (who owes her famous flat top to the hair guru), and a who's who of international models. But the Shampoo comparisons end there. "I've been married for 34 years," Christiaan says, and he's similarly devoted to his craft.
Now 65, the Dutchman continues to bring his special brand of coiffure to campaigns for Yves Saint Laurent and glossies like V, W, and Vogue. To his long list of accolades, he can now also add fragrance muse. Byredo Parfums just christened him its first-ever Mister Marvelous; the new men's scent hits shelves at Barneys next month.