Color by Aura

Colorist Aura Friedman by photographer Tom Munro. All images courtesy of Aura Friedman

The world of Technicolor dreamcoat hues has caught on quickly in modeling as the sure fire way to get noticed. Colorist extraordinaire, Aura Friedman, stands as one of the leaders for the trend having transformed tresses into every pigment imaginable for magazines like Teen Vogue, Marie Claire, i-D, and Wonderland. Models like Soo Joo Park, Charlotte Carey, & Aline Weber have put their strands in her hands to transform them into shades of a Pantone color wheel, from Aruba blue to Papaya to Celestial blond. We talked with the hair painter about the altering nature of hair dye, the importance of individuality, and who she can’t wait to get her hands on next.

There was a time when Friedman remembers changing a model’s hair to an unexpected color wasn’t as accepted as now. “My first transformation of Soo Joo we thought ‘This is going to be insane! People are going to go crazy’ and it literally took a year before people really caught on.” But when they did, it was an explosion. From campaigns with Chanel to walking for Tom Ford, Soo Joo’s path blasted to the top with a L’Oreal Paris contract cementing her place amongst fashion’s elite.

Yet, it’s not always as easy as piling on the toner for every model that walks through Friedman’s door. The master stresses that personality has more to do with carrying the look than anything. “Just like an actress can become type casted, it’s easy for a model to become type casted when it comes to wild colored hair. I think that there are very special girls, like Charlotte Free, Yuan Bo Chao, or Chloe Norgaard, that are the exception but I don’t think that’s the case for every model who dyes their hair those colors.” With the added factor of maintenance, it brings to question just how many barrels of Manic Panic or Pravana will it take to stand out to casting directors come September?

And, why this sudden push for unnatural shades on the runway and in reality? Friedman theorizes, “it’s not the 80s anymore where people have to conform and be a part of society’s boxes. We have a lot of dot-comers that look however they want and move into the upper echelon. It’s more about wearing on the outside what you’re feeling on the inside.” Silver-gray and cotton candy pink dyed hair has almost become the norm with models like Marga Esquivel and Fernanda Ly taking on the brazen hues with ease. Only time will tell how long this painterly trend will stick but for now, the artsy strands are a refreshing departure from what nature intended.

Photographer – Enrique Badulescu (Art Partner) for Teen Vogue, Model – Ashley Smith

Photographer – Dario Catellani (New York: ArtList NY, Paris: ArtList Paris) for Lurve Magazine, Model – Soo Joo Park

Photographer – Benjamin Vnuk (LUNDLUND) for Styleby Magazine, Model – Charlotte Carey

Photographer – Michael Casker for Schön Magazine, Models – Jessica Strother & Abiah Hostvedt

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