Grey hair is cool.
A lot of us have decided to stop hiding our grey hair, in fact … weirdly …. it is so cool the young are colouring their hair grey.
I’m talking to Leslie Stratton Stern a striking woman with a sensational head of grey hair about why and how she decided to embrace her natural colour
Leslie is a former New York textile designer who worked for, among others, John Kaldor and Oroton moved to Sydney years ago and turned her creative mind to painting murals. Beautiful lush gardens scenes she creates for clients in collaboration, new spaces, creating something where nothing existed before, and that takes much less maintenance than a living wall.
“Originally my hair was very dark, I’m over sixty, an age when most women have worked out what they are comfortable with. I’ve had it very very short and very very long and when it was very short it was coloured and it had natural tints, except for the blue streaks phase that was kind of fun …. I don’t think I have any photo of those …. I wish I did …. it was a little bit punk.
At some stage I realized there was a fair bit of grey coming through and I had my mum to thank about that because she had stopped colouring her hair at a certain stage. Our skin tone was similar and she looked terrific so I thought I’d have go…. Also I would save so much time and money.
… it was awkward growing it out, I wore a lot of lovely scarves, being a fabric person. I embraced a bit of a Ho Bo look, I’d wear little hats.
I decided to stick with it and see how it went. I liked it and carried on and so haven’t coloured it again.”
Is the transition hard?
“ Well it’s a good idea to work with your hairdresser, a lot of women seem to be going through this at the moment. You don’t want a grey line growing at your part. Maybe some streaks to make it look more natural.
The process for me was pretty gradual. I don’t think I’ll ever be totally grey. The black is quiet dramatic, in fact I’ve had women ask if I’ve had it done that way.”
Did you have to change your makeup?
“ I’ve never worn that much makeup. A bit today, but its mostly just sunscreen.”
What about the colours you wear?
“I probably wear less black than I used to …. I have a strong skin tone, so I’ve always worn strong colours and I like to wear a lot of white but I don’t wear much cream because that won’t enhance my colouring. I stick to neutrals … I think all my creative energy goes into my painting. If a print makes it into my wardrobe it’s a rare thing.”
In 2006 Leslie was running with a friend in Centennial Park. As she describes it “ I was hot , sweaty my hair was in a nob on the top of my head” when a senior agent at Vivien’s Creative called Adele Perry stopped her.
“She asked if I would be interested being in a campaign for Dove. They were looking for natural looking women. That day she was looking for the grey hair category.
I actually didn’t know who she was but she mentioned the photographer Gary Heery and my friend had heard of him, and she said this is for real. I’m a New Yorker, so I was a bit sceptical.
But It was a lot of fun and wonderful to participate in a campaign that had such purpose and in 2006 to do something that was so enhancing of women’s self esteem to feel good about themselves to have so much positivity around the campaign was exciting for me.
They are also connected to the Butterfly foundation which targets young women. So I felt it was worth my time and effort.
Grey has come into its own, it seems to me. In the last couple of years around the globe it’s far more prevalent. Natural highlights, I think it’s a good thing….you know I’ve always joked that I’m a blond on the inside. This is as close to blond as I’m going to get.”
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