Back in the ’90s, women were going to salons and asking for “The Rachel,” an iconic cut modelled after Jennifer Aniston’s girl-next-door Friends character Rachel Green. It was of a lobbish length with spunky face-framing wisps. Cute! Sassy, even! If I was in my 20s back then, it’s the cut I would have asked for. But now, in my late 20s, I ask for “The Amal.”
I’ve been fascinated by Amal Clooney’s blowout for months now. Last year, Vogue pointed out that Clooney had the “hardest working hair in New York City.” I agree! And I can’t take my eyes off it. The international human rights lawyer’s mane is a rich shade of volcanic obsidian, or a bar of Ghirardelli chocolate. It goes against gravity—the waves are defined and sculpted, but floating. If Clooney was stranded at sea, her hair would be her life jacket. In the world of political hair, Clooney is an outlier. I’m used to the shielding bob of Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren’s helmet cut. Or the normal-girl hair of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. As we’ve written about before, there are unspoken hair rules for women in politics, though, they’re changing, as is the conversation around beauty in politics as a whole. Back in January, congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez broadcasted a breakdown of her skincare routine on Instagram to her millions of followers. As for Clooney? She takes a coyer approach, and her large hair is, well, full of secrets.
Julien Farel Salon on Park Avenue and 61st Street is the place to get this goddess hair, something I noticed immediately upon entering. Even at 9.30am in the morning, I was flanked by all types of women with that same huge hair: Older Upper East Side women with blooming tresses; young moms with Brazilian-supermodel layers. I met the storied creator of them all, Julien Farel, a beautiful Frenchman with the jawline of a Grecian statue and a great handshake. He sat me down in a swivelling chair, unraveled my tangled post-gym bun, and began gesturing around my head like an orchestra conductor, explaining the steps to get Clooney’s hair. “Start with the foundation,” he began. To achieve this hair, one has to focus on the scalp, which for Farel, is the key to unearthing and maintaining red carpet—or courtroom—hair. Farel noted that prep is a huge step. My hair would be twice-washed with a sulphate-free shampoo created by Farel himself that gives you an icy-clean sensation the moment it hits the head. It comes out soft to the touch, too. With wet hair, I sat in the chair and Farel began to work. “She’s using big rollers all the time to get the volume and the volume in the right places,” Farel explained. “This is a more glam look than a beach-wave look. The younger generation is about flat iron and twisting it with their fingers. But there is no other way to keep the volume [than rollers].” Whether they’re Velcro or hot, rollers will be your best friend to get that pumped-up Clooney hair. Farel would blow dry my hair and then roll it up in a fist-size Velcro roller. By the time he was finished placing them all, I resembled a ’50s housewife, or Sputnik. But when he undid them? Va va voom. I was transformed. The volume wasn’t just at the ends of my hair, it was at the top of my head—something I had never experienced.
By the time I had left the salon, my hair was huge. I mean big. It was a lush waterfall. Having big hair like that makes a person feel not just manicured, but confident—and, yes, super hot. Could I take on the UN? Of course not. Did I look super amazing? Yes, I did. I can only hope Amal would approve.