With New York Fashion Week happening (and the European shows coming up soon), I’d like to help you make sense of the reality of the runway—particularly runway hair.More importantly, how you can adapt runway styles for your own hair, because even just a small hair change can give you a great lift and help you feel good about yourself and your beauty.I’ve done hair for fashion shows for many years, so I see firsthand the visions of what the designers are trying to portray. There are hundreds of fashion shows out there every season, and often the ones that get press are the more extreme, avant garde ones. That’s when you get women saying, “Who are they kidding? I’m never going to wear my hair or makeup like that.” Those shows are pure fantasy—look at them for fun and for inspiration.I do lots of shows, from avant garde to more commercial, and I would say that about 65 percent of the hairstyles I do for runway shows could be worn by a lot of women. They can be adapted for everyone’s lifestyle.GALLERY: Fall Fashion Beauty TrendsWhat happens is, the term “fashion show” makes women shut down. It’s easy to get intimidated by the way fashion is presented with the model, the clothes, the lighting. You may see the model and think you’ll never look like that. Of course you won’t—no one really looks like that. The model only looks like that because she’s had experts working on her for three hours. Yes, she’s young and thin—but we’re talking about the hair. Everyone with hair can have a version of runway hair.

Courtesy of RedkenDolce & Gabbana Fall/Winter 2011; Hair by Guido for Redken
Dolce & Gabbana Fall/Winter 2011; Hair by Guido for Redken

The thing that’s so great about runway hair is that it is often slightly imperfect. You see a lot of short, easy cuts, or quick knots. When the model’s hair catches the light you can see stray ends and flyaways—it looks real.Compare that to TV. We’re bombarded by unrealistic, perfect hair: thick, glossy, slightly wavy hair. Not one flyaway (that’s impossible!). But maybe the women on TV with that hair aren’t as young as runway models, or not as edgy, and there is marketing behind them to make them seem more “real.” So that becomes the idea of the hair we are supposed to have.I was watching TV recently and noticed one of the anchorwomen. Her hair was so glossed out, and there were so many products used in it. She did not have one flyaway. Because she is a more “real” woman than a model, I’m sure other women look at her and think, “I’d like my hair like that.” Reality check: That, and other perfect hair you see on TV, is very high-maintenance. It takes a lot of work and it’s very expensive to upkeep.QUIZ: How Healthy is Your Hair?A lot of designers prefer their models to have more realistic hair than that because they do want to show their clothes in some sort of reality. I know people are going to laugh at that and say, “But models are 16 year old girls! And they’re ultra thin! It’s not reality!” I get it—I know that. But the point here is the hair. Designers love the idea of a mistake in the hair, because people do make mistakes in their hair, and they do want their shows to look real because the point of the show is to sell clothing to women.So you see slightly messy, imperfect hair on the runways—and it looks lovely and way better than TV hair.

Courtesy of RedkenMarc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2011; Hair by Guido for Redken
Marc Jacobs Fall/Winter 2011; Hair by Guido for Redken

So how do you make it work for you? What I think is great is that the shows are out there on the web, and you can quickly look at pictures to see what’s going on. Zero in on the hair, and if there is anything that catches your eye, think about how you can have fun with it.Here are a few easy hair ideas from the runways:If you normally wear your hair in a ponytail, try wearing it down and part your hair on the side.If you wear your hair down every day, pull it up into a ponytail—nice and high if you have a strong jawline.If you blow dry straight every day, let your hair dry with its natural texture and use a few pins to work it into messy knot.The best part is, playing with your hair is an inexpensive way to update your look—no need to go drop a ton of money on a new wardrobe.MORE: The Best Haircut for Your Hair TypeLike I said before, the term “fashion show” is what turns women off, and they make up their minds that they can’t look like that even before they’ve tried it. Let’s not do that—let’s try it. Some of the hairstyles will make you laugh, and you might find them ridiculous—that’s fine. But in the mix there will be something for you if you know how to look.