How I gave Meghan Markle her show pony: The Duchess of Sussex’s hairdresser reveals how he created the iconic ponytail look as worn by Gwyneth Paltrow… and Kate Middleton
Seeing those pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge this week, wearing her hair in an effortlessly chic yet understated ponytail, it felt like the start of a more modern chapter for her image.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we have seen Kate’s hair styled this way. Normally, though, she would team it with casual clothing while typically attending a sporting or outdoor event.
This week’s engagement was in the more formal setting of a Norfolk hospital to mark the NHS’s 72nd birthday. Worn with an elegant navy dress with a structured collar, on Kate the ponytail looked truly regal.
FUN FOUNTAIN: The success of this pony on Kate, Duchess of Cambridge (pictured), lies behind the modern, fountain-like arc she has created at the back and top, which keeps it youthful. She has kept products to a minimum, so it looks soft and dry, making it fun and playful. I love it.
Admittedly, there’s every chance that, like so many women right now, she was simply looking to tidy up her grown-out, lockdown hair by tying it back until she can get a long-awaited trim.
But oh boy, the way she created that bit of lift at the top, positioning it just so in the middle of her head. It meant she pulled off a fun and youthful ponytail that still somehow looked totally fitting for a future Queen.
The ponytail really is having a moment. In fact, let’s call it the power pony because, as Kate and indeed her sister-in-law Meghan have shown, it’s a simple style that can be worn several ways. And, when you get it right, it creates a truly wow look.
Eternally youthful, thanks to those nostalgic schoolgirl connotations, there’s a power pony for every woman with hair long enough to tie back, whether you go for high or low look.
It’s fun but it also shows you mean business, with no stray hairs flying across your face as a distraction.
Kate looked amazing this week — but the true Queen of the Ponytail will always be Meghan.
I’m biased, of course, it being my great honour to have styled the Duchess of Sussex’s hair on many of her highest profile engagements, including her wedding.
Doing Meghan’s hair always felt like a collaboration. She knew what she wanted, which helpfully segued perfectly with my own ideas for a thoroughly-modern, yet highly-sophisticated look.
A running theme became the ponytail and she has truly made it her own.
I joined Meghan and Harry on their Australia tour back in 2018. With so many daytime and casual engagements the ponytail served her well — relaxed, off her face and always appropriate to the situation.
BALLERINA BEAUTY: One of my all-time favourites, we created this look for Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, by blow-drying her hair back smoothly, then holding in place with serum and slicking it back into a low pony. Avoid the low, loose pony look, which is horribly dated — you’re aiming for ballerina, not old lady
But perhaps the pony that Meghan will be most remembered for here in the UK is the one I gave her for the night she and Harry performed their last public engagement — an awards evening at London’s Mansion House — before they left Britain for a new, less-public life earlier this year.
Like so many people, I gasped when I saw those iconic photographs of the couple, taken underneath that umbrella, the camera lights flashing through the raindrops like a scene from a movie. I felt pride that, once again, I’d had the privilege of styling her hair for the occasion, a ponytail positioned low with a sleek and glossy texture.
It was always such a pleasure to work with Meghan — and I do still look at those images and think, ‘Gosh, we really did go out with a bang’.
When it comes to your own power pony, positioning is important; leave the uber-high ones to your daughters, the cool 20-somethings who look good with so much height and swing to their ponytail.
The middle of the head is the safest bet once you’re over 30, because that placing is easy to wear whatever your age group.
And remember, if you take it low, be sure to keep it sleek and tight. Otherwise, you could end up looking like your granny when you were aiming for chic.
Here’s my verdict on the celebrity ponytails of the moment:
LEFT: Nicole Kidman is a fan of both the low and high pony, and there’s a clear difference between the two. Lower down, she looks older; higher up, she looks younger and more playful in her profile. A high pony is for the cool kids — which she manages to remain RIGHT: I have always enjoyed putting Gwyneth Paltrow’s hair into a pony. It’s such a youthful look on her — and so natural. It seems an extension of her personality
LEFT: Taylor Swift shows how you do a rock star ponytail. It’s wispy and fly-away, and that fringe is a cool finishing touch. RIGHT: This is the kind of pony I’d put on 27-year-old pop star Ariana Grande — and yet Jennifer Lopez, 50, pulls it off. She’s a phenomenon. Don’t think because J-Lo can, you can
LEFT: Here we have the perfect casual style — brushed into a tight pony that has been loosely tonged for texture. Eva Longoria looks comfortable and effortlessly beautiful. RIGHT: I love Catherine Zeta-Jones but I think this pony ages her. The dress is low-cut and sexy, and a more casual, undone ponytail would have balanced that out so much better. This is my least favourite pony look
LESS IS MORE: I’m less into this Kate Beckinsale look — it’s neither one thing nor another. Is it a pony, is it an up-do — and what is that loose section about? There’s too much going on
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