Hairstylist Mandy Lyons Loves Vivienne Westwood and Going Gray

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Mandy Lyons and her daughter Hattie.

Hairstylist Mandy Lyons may be best known for teasing Sarah Jessica Parker’s curls into gravity-defying styles for the Sex and the City movies, but she’s been getting extra buzz lately for the hair makeovers she gave the cast of The Tempest. Lyons even convinced Helen Mirren, who plays Prospera (Prospero is female in this update), to chop off her bob. “I found some amazing pictures of Vivienne Westwood in her heyday when her hair was hacked off, and I showed it to Helen after meeting her for about five minutes and she went, “I love it. Do it,” Lyons says. “It really helped her get into character.”

It makes sense that Lyons looks to fashion’s greats for hair inspiration, considering Karl Lagerfeld gave her one of her first big breaks. “It was his cruise collection, and Amanda Harlech was his muse at the time, so I had to meet with her. I made these tiaras out of hair, they were kind of punky-looking. I just left the models’ hair natural and down and added these hair tiaras, and he thought it was genius.” Despite creating elaborate looks for designers and directors, Lyons prefers simpler styles when it comes to her clients at Sally Hershberger. “I’m not into extensions and blowouts and trying to make things perfect. I think if you have a high forehead, don’t hide it. If you have a wide jaw, pull your hair back and show it off. Everything looks so mannequin-y now, I find it quite scary.” We caught up with Lyons to talk about Vivienne Westwood, gray hair, and Justin Bieber.

How did you get your start?
I wanted to do hair for the BBC, but they turned me away. You had to be 25 and I was 18 at the time. I ended up going to a salon and doing an apprenticeship.

What are you working on now?
I’m working on a new Jason Reitman movie starring Charlize Theron. She’s playing a very interesting character: Her hair and makeup is like a mask for someone she becomes when she’s in front of men, while her real life is kind of a mess.

How do you style your own hair?
My hair is so low-key, you would die. I have a heavy fringe and it’s messy and layered. I have a crazy crown that people think I’ve blow-dried, but it’s just a cowlick. People say it looks like a hurricane from the back. I’m also an advocate of letting your grays come in gracefully. I put foils in so I’m letting some gray show but also covering a bit up. That way you’re not tied down and having to get your roots done every four weeks.

Who are your favorite designers?
I love Margiela and Helmut Lang. There’s a lot about Stella McCartney that I like. We’re both influenced by people like Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenberg, they just looked so effortlessly stylish.

What was the first designer item you ever bought?
I saved up my pocket money to get a Buffalo Girls Vivienne Westwood skirt. It was such a big deal. I was into the music and the fact that she came from punk. She’s a rebel, and I love that. I’ve always like outsiders. She’s a little bit naughty.

Where do you like to shop?
I love ABC Carpet. I find it incredibly expensive, but it’s so eclectic. I especially love all of the mid-century modern furniture.

How would you describe your personal style?
Simple, comfortable, and a little boyish. I’ve always been a fan of looking a little rock and roll.

What trends do you like right now?
Do-it-yourself. That inspires everything: hair, clothes, makeup. Anything really authentic and really from the gut.

What trends do you wish would go away?
Man-made bands where people can’t play an instrument. That Justin Bieber, I just can’t stand it.


What is something that you’re saving up to buy?

I would love to have a photograph by William Eggleston. That would be amazing.

What is one thing every woman should have in her closet?
A pair of jeans that fit you really well. And I love worn-in boots. I have this gray pair from Frye that I wear every year. I like a good cardigan, too.

What's something you never leave the house without?
I am a hand-cream freak, because my hands are always in water or hair products. I also take magazines and water everywhere.