Articles By Alison Zwecker

Alison Zwecker

When you not only meet, but find yourself interviewing the lovely Kim Coles within five minutes of arriving at an event, it’s hard to not be impressed. And lucky for me, my experience at Saturday’s "Texture on the Runway" event did not disappoint.

“I have a curly soul,” Ms. Coles told me and another social media reporter, Terri. Amidst a buzz of blow dryers and scurrying models, we learned Kim’s natural hair journey, her favorite products and just how amazing and down-to-earth she is in person.

But I would never be a good blogger or social guru if I rambled on only about my brush with the "Living Single" star. Or how I ran up to Nick Arrojo and awkwardly asked to shake his hand – awkwardly because I burst out of nowhere, rather than, as I intended, calmly sauntering over to him and mentioning how thrilled I was to meet him and hear about his new American Wave system, which revolutionizes the way salons can add curl and wave to straight hair.

No, I’d rather tell you about what an incredible event I experienced on Saturday. Top hair stylists and product lines like Matrix, Curls Unleashed, Hair Rules, Minardi, and (as I clearly knew) Arrojo, came together to shout out to the fashion world that texture should and needs to be on the runway. Texture, whether through Matrix’s neo-Victorian crimps and braids or the boundless bounce of Curls Unleashed’s explosion of all curl types, is something that can accentuate style, and I am confident that the show dazzled the fashion industry, not to mention the packed room in attendance.

My favorite moments of the day happened while interviewing top stylists and having the opportunity to see the varied techniques that each used to bring out various hair types and styles that they featured. While Minardi used blow dryers and pin curls, Curls Unleashed wowed with twisting and stretching individual curls using curl definer and gel.

"Texture on the Runway" also showed me that curly hair can be versatile. The way to change a curly ‘do is not by straightening it, but by employing different scrunch vs. fluff moves that change the entire shape of the hair, while still maintaining its natural structure.

I’m proud to have been a part of "Texture on the Runway," and it's powerful statement about the synthesis of fashion and texture. Matrix’s Nick Stenson told me that, before today, texture was never (and he stressed NEVER) seen on the runway. I hope that, in showing how much curl and wave can do, we can allow texture to do more and to be a fixture in fashion weeks to come.


Alison Zwecker

I prepared for my first curly haircut like one might prepare for the SATs or the GRE or a driver’s exam for your first tractor: research, Google image searches and polling of as many curly consumers as I could get a hold of, all while chewing a piece of straw. With all that prep work, I wasn’t as overwhelmed or shocked by my experience as I had assumed.

The stylists analyzed my hair while it was dry, then cut, then washed, dried and did some final touch-ups. I remember the mosquito-netting draped over the sinks, laying flat on my back while I was washed and the detailed description of all the products used. Most of all, I felt like my curls were understood, but not in a personal way, more akin to fitting them into a generalized category in order to determine a plan of attack.

So while I appreciated and was a believer in the curly-specific cut after my first go-around, I chose a different salon and stylist for my second trip. And that was when the real surprise came — the “curly cut” that I had assumed was standard throughout the curly hair industry was not actually a common practice. My second curly cut was as different from my first as compared to a non-curly salon. My hair was cut wet, the products used had water-soluble silicones, and the stylist used a non-microfiber towel (gasp!).

The end result, after my personal routine was applied, was pretty much the same, truth be told. So of course, my next cut was at yet another salon. This, like the others, was a place known for being THE institution in curly cut techniques. You know, "the industry standard." The flagship, mecca, homeland of the curly, if you will. And yet again, the process was different. This time cut wet, I was hushed at my mention of “layers,” and sat quietly while two stylists consulted about what direction to turn the scissors as they approached my head.

Having experienced these three mega-infamous salons in New York City, and three “the only way” curly haircuts, I have to say that I have a new perspective on curly hair care. Did my hair look great after each process? Generally, yes, but the means to that end were not at all the same. So I began to realize that, while I myself hold fast to my own sacred routine, there may not be one answer for everyone.

Curly hair is about communication: listening to the way the client speaks and the way the hair reacts. And curly hair has countless dialects of accents and languages even within the greater scheme of the poof. It’s easy for a salon or a stylist to tote their method as the end-all-be-all in hair care, but the proof is in the curling. Along those lines, there is a great market out there for collaborative work between these salons and stylists; if they work together (despite that not exactly making the most business sense, I have to admit), they can address the needs of more clients, and do so more completely.

That’s what really excites me about the upcoming "Texture on the Runway" event. We will see a range of professionals and products, and experience for ourselves how that may or may not work for our own head of hair. Curly hair is exciting because it’s about experimenting with your own canvas. It’s thrilling to find something that works, even if that method is not one that is recommended by your favorite salon. I’m looking forward to being an individual curly girl on the hunt at the "Texture on the Runway" event — to see how all these diverse methods can approach hair care, and do so in ways that will revolutionize all the things going on on-top of my head and inside it!


Bun

When I say that I’ve always been a naturally curly girl, I may not be telling the whole truth. Up until about two years ago, my natural hair was more or less in a battle against nature. I was manipulating the wave, rather than riding it, saturating my tresses with as much gel as they could handle in order get some sort of order in the court on my crown. Oh, the naivete of youth.

Shampooing with the best of them, tossing in silicones to add short-lived sheen, BRUSHING. So many sins I am ashamed to admit, on the alter of the curlies. I shudder to think of those dried-up days.

It was at a New Year’s Eve party, amidst a torrent of Polish vodka and cheese wedges, that I learned of my wrong-doings. Or more kindly, of the way to do right and do good to my curls. I’m not saying that the Curly Girl method is a necessity for all, but the results could not and cannot be denied: my hair, even on those lazy days when I don’t follow my co-wash, leave-in, all-natural gel routine, is more defined, soft and shiny. And for that all-mighty achievement alone, I am thankful.

But telling your friends that you have denounced shampoo and brushes and combs is an arduous coming out process, to say the least. The looks of disbelief, maybe even horror (despite my using my curls as a curtain of blinders) on my straight-haired friends’ faces were hard to miss. I softened the curly anvil (curlvil?) by telling them that it’s because of the little known fragility of my curly hair — the dryness, the porousness — that I don’t use shampoo. They nodded and pretended to understand, but inevitably ran back to their bathrooms and cradled their sodium laureth sulfate.

I don’t mind, though. Maybe some would say, “It’s only hair,” but in a world of Japanese straightening treatments and relaxing balms, I choose aloe and flax and coconut oil. Being naturally curly is about making an assertion, a commitment to who you are, unrelated to pleasing others or navigating trends, special cuts or too-blonde highlights. It’s about accessing the best version of yourself and flaunting it. And I’m proud to be an advocate for that in whatever way I can, one plop at a time.



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