EXCLUSIVE: Michelle Williams’ Pixie Cut: An Evolution
If Michelle Williams looked almost gilded at the Met ball last night, that was intentional. “The gold birds on her [custom Miu Miu] dress really inspired us to go for a golden look,” her trusted makeup artist Jeanine Lobell said of the “golden smoky eye” she crafted, blending the shades from Chanel’s Quadra Eye Shadow in Mystic Eyes. But we were more intrigued by Williams’ signature pixie, which seemed slightly longer than usual—and equally golden.
“She let me trim her hair up,” hairstylist Peter Gray said of Michelle’s crop, although the coiffing star, who was working with Williams for the first time, did something a little unexpected with his trusty pair of shears. “When you’ve got a short haircut, everyone thinks its low-maintenance—but it’s not. The first thing it wants to do is go into a ball.” To make sure that didn’t happen, Gray worked against Chris McMillan’s original cut, layering Williams’ hair behind her ears and slicking it back before slicing away around the temple to the crown, instead of tapering it up, to take the weight out. “I don’t like short hair when it looks contrived,” Gray pointed out of the Mia Farrow and Jean Seberg-esque styles that can be over blow-dried. “You can have a really short haircut and it can look soft and feminine. Otherwise, it gets boring after a while.”
Williams, it seems, was into changing it up. “I talked to her about growing [her hair] out around the outline and she was really up to the idea,” confirms Gray, who doubled as DJ at Williams’ home pre-gala. (“Her record collection is amazing—everything from Tom Waits, old Bowie records, Johnny Cash, and Frank Sinatra to Notorious B.I.G. And they’re vinyl LPs!”)
“She is thinking about growing it out,” Williams’ colorist, Anthony Palermo, reiterated when we looped him in to discuss her new, amber-hued hair. “She wanted to have it really, really light a couple of months ago when she was promoting Blue Valentine and then we decided to make it a little softer so she could give it a bit of a break. We were dyeing it every 15 days.” Luckily for Williams, Palermo has a trick for keeping strands healthy, despite peroxide abuse—which Gray incorporated into his styling efforts as well: Moroccanoil Light. “I put it right into the lightener to keep the texture in good condition so [her hair] conditions as it lightens.”
As for Gray, his fingers were “constantly in the oil.” (Pro tip: Avoid an allover greasy effect by pouring a good-sized dollop of the argan-rich elixir into your palm and coating your fingertips with it before rubbing into roots and through the lengths for a “lived-in feel.”)
“I had wigs, I had extensions, but when [Michelle] put the dress on, I thought, she doesn’t need anything at all,” Gray surmised of the finished look. “Everyone else went for an over-the-top effort; it’s so much cooler to just go for effortless beauty.”