Project Description

IT OCCURRED TO ME RECENTLY THAT climate-change forecasts of record high temperatures and drastic sea-level rises seem to be prompting an interesting sartorial phenomenon: Survivalist wardrobe staples are trending. Gore-Tex and hiking boots keep getting traction on the runways, and a recent capsule collection of “modern everyday essentials” from Prada included a reusable water bottle—and a compass, perfect for city folk who like to camp in their cubicles. More accessible to me is a faded green nylon coat from the Japanese brand Final Home, which hangs in my boyfriend’s closet. When it gets cold, you can stuff the lining with newspaper for warmth. These are clothes for the end of the world.

But what to do with one’s hair during this slow-motion collapse of our biosphere? It seems fitting that, in addition to recycling, we would move toward hairstyling solutions suitable to living off the grid. Norman Reedus’s poignantly greasy, side-swept bangs in The Walking Dead come to mind, or some version of them. “I don’t use hot tools—can’t you tell?” Gabriela Hearst says with a laugh on a winter afternoon at her studio in Manhattan. The designer recently orchestrated the first-ever carbon-neutral fashion show in collaboration with the advisory group EcoAct—relying on local models (no flying in talent) and a minimal electricity mandate, backstage included (no blow-dryers or curling irons for hairstylist James Pecis and his team). Hearst has also adopted a quality-over-quantity brand ethos that extends to her personal life as well. “The way I think now is: How do I take fewer natural resources and less energy from this planet?” explains the 43-year-old, revealing that the last time she had her hair done was in May, when she cut it short for ease, and that she buys Red Flower’s Icelandic Moonflower shampoo in bulk for her family to reduce plastic containers in her home. “That’s the point we make as a brand: Take out all the unnecessary things. Have less, but make it good,” she continues. “James put some beautiful hair on the runway that you wouldn’t even think was missing all the appliances.”