September 1 2014

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EXCLUSIVE: Talking Shop With Mary-Kate And Ashley’s Mane Man


“I was away for the weekend so I raced over to her apartment to see it this morning,” Mark Townsend told us last night, referring to the fresh brunette dye job that Mary-Kate Olsen debuted at the CFDA Awards. “I think she was just ready for a change,” Townsend surmised, gushing over the chocolaty brown shade Olsen chose with celebrity colorist Harry Josh. “I don’t think Mary-Kate or Ashley ever makes really rash decisions. They have really clear ideas. [No one] is more aware of their own sense of style. That’s why they’re nominated for a CFDA.”

Now they’re CFDA winners. The sister duo took home top honors at Lincoln Center, beating out Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler to snag the Womenswear Designer of the year prize—and they looked good doing it, thanks in part to Townsend, their longtime hairstylist. “They are blessed with some really good hair naturally. I can’t sit here and take credit for it,” Townsend said humbly. But it’s his well-trained hands that often help the girls realize their coiffing potential.

“I think this was the first time I’ve really pushed Mary-Kate,” Townsend determined of the pin-straight, middle-parted down do Olsen wore with her black The Row ensemble. “I wanted [her hair] to reflect the light,” he continued, explaining that he simply coated her strands with Dove Nutritive Therapy Nourishing Oil Care, applied heat, and flat-ironed just the mid-lengths. The secret step to ensuring a super-sleek finish? A few spritzes of Dove Extra Hold Hairspray on a wooden toothbrush. “It takes out any flyaways around the part or hairline,” he says.

With Ashley, things are always a little more collaborative, Townsend reveals. “She’s the first one to show me what she is wearing and it’s like, ‘Here’s what I’m wearing, and here’s what I’m thinking.’ ” Last night, she was thinking of an updo—but nothing too perfect. “We always love [Ashley's] hair to look like she’s done it herself and I always love it when it looks like it could fall out at any minute,” Townsend explains, an effect he achieved with texture. Prepping Olsen’s locks with Dove Style+Care Nourishing Dry Ends Serum, which Townsend endearingly refers to as “a haircut in a bottle,” he raked a mix of its Style+Care Nourishing Curls Whipped Cream Mousse and Sally Hershberger’s Body Fix Hairspray through her lengths, rough-drying as he went. “Ashley reintroduced me to my diffuser,” the star stylist deadpanned of the classic eighties blowdryer attachment that Olsen has been requesting of late—and which he used just before gathering her hair at the nape of the neck, loosely braiding it, and then pinning it back up into a messy knot.

“I get to do the extreme version with [Mary-Kate and Ashley],” Townsend says of his creative process with the Olsens. “You wanna go messy, let’s go messy. Then I use what I learn from them on my other clients.” Jessica Biel, Jennifer Lawrence, and January Jones are no doubt psyched for their next red-carpet cameos.


Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

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