Anything has been said and written about Sex and the City. I honestly don’t know why I’m still focusing on a tv show whose finale was aired seven years ago. There are many reasons why I should have moved over, but for some strange reason I’m still thinking of details I focused on in the past. I’ve loved this show, but its evolution has left me extremely disappointed. The actresses who played the protagonists are still stuck in their fictional personas, maybe that is the reason why none of them has scored other career achievements and probably that is the reason why they keep on filming Sex and the City movies.
But I’m digressing: this revival has sprung from one of my personal obsessions, the chignon. My family, friends and students know what I’m talking about: the only reason why my hair is still long – I’m 36 years old – is the chignon, my favourite hairstyle, the only way in which my hair feels right and not just a messy nest. I’ve got a passion for big chignons and so I’ve always appreciated and drawn inspiration from the ones Sarah Jessica Parker as Carrie Bradshaw had in the series.
Since I’ve been doomed with an embarassing visual memory, here is a journey through each and every episode in which Carrie sports a big chignon. Most of the times, this hairdo is messy, but perfection is achieved when it’s perfectly styled, quietly sitting on top of the head, a romantic ballerina chignon on steroids.
Let’s start with the third season, when she starts sporting this hairstyle. I first spotted it in Where There’s Smoke: Carrie meets a politician at a FDNY calendar benefit in Staten Island and dates him. In this case, her curly hair is styled in a high chignon: the result is messy yet adorable, and matches her nonchalant outfit, including a vintage fur coat and a lavender frilly top.
In Drama Queens, she has the same hairstyle while lusting over some shoes in a Barneys New York window. In this case, her outfit is colourful and summery, including a Ralph Lauren striped shirt, a Christian Dior Saddle bag, a Bulgari watch and Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses. This is such a bitter sweet episode, because the first cracks on her relationship with Aidan begin to show: when he asks her to meet his parents, she freaks out and spotting Big and his wife at the theatre do the rest.
Oh, here it is: the perfect chignon I was referring to in the introduction. Carrie sports it in a tight spot, just after Charlotte and Trey’s wedding ceremony, when she meets Aidan. He cannot accept the way she cheated him with Big, so he’s leaving her. Even if Carrie is wearing a lovely Vera Wang strapless dress, for once I don’t focus on her outfit, but on her amazing hairstyle.
The chignon triumphs in the fourth season: Carrie sports it a lot of times, starting from All That Glitters… The picture above is taken from a scene set in a gay club, where Carrie meets a cute guy, Oliver. I love what she’s wearing here – an Azzedine Alaïa white dress and a Hermès pleated silk scarf, wrapped as a bracelet around her upper arm – and I also love how she decorated her hair, with a flower.
In this season, Carrie and Aidan are together again: he has given an engagement ring to her, which she accepts even if she knows she is not the woman he wants her to be. This is the reason why she doesn’t wear her ring on her finger but on a chain, as a pendant. It’s not a case that at the end of the episode, when Aidan asks her to get married to him that evening, she refuses, thus breaking up with him forever. In the scene above, she explains to a friend the reason why she wears the ring as a pendant (to keep it closer to her heart, a huge lie); here, her chignon is not very puffy, which is ok.
In Ring a Ding Ding, Carrie sports a messy and big chignon in three different scenes. This is quite a hilarious yet dramatic episode: when Aidan moves out of her apartment, she only has 30 days either to buy it back or to vacate it. Having spent a fortune in shoes ($ 40,000), now she can’t even take out a loan. In the scene above, she’s wearing a Marimekko printed sundress and a black beaded necklace. Her chignon is controlled and nice.
A towering chignon appears on top of her head when she visits a flat with a property dealer: here she’s wearing a black Miu Miu top and a Dugg duck-printed skirt. I think this is the perfect size of a chignon: nicely combed, not messy nor too tight, visible but not showy.
When she has dinner with her friends at a Chinese restaurant, she’s wearing a Chanel chiffon top and Prada pleated skirt, and sporting a chignon which is – again – controlled, tighter than the one in the previous scene.
After a long hiatus (no chignons spotted in the fifth season, when Carrie has shoulder-long hair), my favourite hairstyle is back on track in the last season, with amazing results.
In The Perfect Present, she attends a party hosted by a recently singled friend, turned into a designer of hideous bags. She’s wearing a Rebecca Taylor rainbow dress, Cynthia Steffe champagne jacket and taupe cargo pants; her chignon is lovely, perfectly styled again.
The Catch is a nice episode, which includes Charlotte’s wedding to Harry. In the scene above, set in an outdoor cafè, Carrie meets Harry’s best man, who will shortly become her lover. Here, her chignon is messy but somehow controlled, very much similar to my daily hairstyle.
A Woman’s Right to Shoes is the infamous episode of the missing Manolo Blahnik silver d’orsays. In the scene above, set in a restaurant, Carrie’s chignon is different: it’s not sitting on top of her head, but is on the back of the neck; it’s more controlled than usual, since it’s wrapped by a hair-net. This is the only case in which she sported this styling solution, which I don’t like because the use of the hair-net makes the chignon look very artificial.
Boy, Interrupted, introducing David Duchovny as guest star, is one of my favourite episodes ever. It closes with a romantic gay/lesbian/transgender prom, attended by Carrie, Stanford Blatch (her best gay friend) and Marcus, Stanford’s boyfriend. In the scene above, Carrie is wearing a floral sundress and sporting another example of perfectly controlled chignon.
One is an important episode of the sixth season, because Carrie meets the Russian artist Aleksandr Petrovsky for the first time, but also includes other unexpected events, such as Miranda and Steve’s re-union. The scene above is set in the bathroom of Miranda’s flat, where the party for Brady’s first birthday is taking place. I must admit I’ve re-created her outfit – periwinkle short-sleeved v-neck shirt and printed full skirt – many times, because it’s comfortable but still dressy. Her chignon is slightly messy and nicely matches the casual vibe of the outfit.
The Ick Factor is the last occasion in which this hairstyle can be seen. The main event of the episode is Miranda and Steve’s wedding, but we also learn about Samantha’s breast cancer. I’ve always had mixed feeling when it comes to this chignon: it’s gloriously puffy, so I should like it, but it’s too backcombed for my liking; as it happened in A Woman’s Right to Shoes, the result is chic but artificial.
I know this post will soon be labelled as morbid by some of you, and I totally get why, but sometimes things just get stuck into my mind and the only way to get rid of them is writing about them. After this stint into the wonderful world of chignons, I promise I’ll keep other obsessions from Sex and the City secret.