Wednesday, 14 October 2009


by Miss Alexandra Oliver

Like my beloved bosom pal, Miss Brown, I am a blonde. It was not always so. Had you told me, back in 1990, say, that by 2004 I would be a blonde, I would have shot you a withering glance or, at worst, smacked you lightly with whatever lace parasol I happened to be carrying that day. 
Miss Oliver revels on a school biology camping trip.

My decision to emigrate to the sunny shores of wheat, amber and caramel came in 2000, after a particularly sad breakup and subsequent cross-Atlantic move. The gals who wrought this sea-change were the stylists at Vancouver’s wonderful Beehive Hair Lounge (, amazing colourists all. How I miss the Beehive! Here, in Burlington, I console myself by either going to Jen at Teo’s Hair and Bodyworks (, or by taking the train into Toronto. There, I avail myself of the services of the students at the Aveda Institute ( It takes forever (they are students, after all, and need to bounce their work off teachers during the process), but the price is right, the products are aces, and the outcome is invariably excellent. When visiting my in-laws in Belgrade, Serbia, I go to a tiny, hole-in-the-wall salon called Miss at 300 Bulevar Kralja Aleksandra. They do a great job and also give great retro blowouts. I wish they’d get a website.

One thing that links all gals (and chaps for that matter) who are, or who have been Gothic in persuasion at one time or another, is a particular outlook. It’s not outright gloom per se, but it’s a kind of dark romanticism tempered with good old-fashioned gallows humour. You, dark ones, may be asking: how can I remain myself once I have essentially been transformed into Barbie? As a mother in a suburb outside of Toronto, I have faced this painful dilemma many times. On going to the park or the library or to pick my son up from the Y, I am besieged on all sides by blonde-bobbed Alpha Mums who drive Cayennes and greet one with the glass-cracking cry of “Oh hi-yeeeeeeeeeeeee! I was going to CALL you!” Please don’t call me, I silently beg. 
Play Spot the Goth (check out the trio of blondes above. Alpha Mums in training.)

But back to the topic at hand. If you are a) interested in going blonde and b) unwilling to let the side down, it is useful to have some handy blonde role models in the back of your head. Emulate them and no-one will ever mistake you for the babystteresque Jennifer Aniston or that terrifying perkpot Meg Ryan. Here are my top five Moody Blondes:

  1. Catherine Deneuve:
Crazed in Repulsion! Operatically swooning in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg! Bloodlessly servicing Parisian businessmen in Belle du Jour! And, of course, we love her in The Hunger. What other woman could transform the great Bowie into a despairing raisin?

  1. Eva Peron
Don’t cry for me, indeed. Did she have it or what? Note: I mean Evita as Evita—not Madonna as Evita.

  1. Hertha Thiele
She played an unstable, passion-crazed schoolgirl in Leontine Sagan’s seminal 1931 lesbian drama Madchen in Uniform. But enough about that. She was doomy, gloomy and luminous. Look at that great haircut, too!
Here’s another great picture:

  1. Dominique Sanda

Another great brooding blonde of mystery. Threw herself out of a window in Bresson’s Une Femme Douce, danced the tango with Stefania Sandrelli in Bertolucci’s The Conformist and fell to the brutality of the Nazis in The Garden of the Finzi Continis. Even today she still looks great, trust me.

  1. Lee Miller

Man Ray took her photo over and over and over again. Hmmmm.
Also a stellar photographer in her own right. Go, Lee!

Whenever I’m feeling even the slightest bit suburban and perky, I invoke these mysterious, flaxen muses and am restored to normalcy.

Upkeep: there are so many great products out there now—I love Kerastase, but it takes a bank robbery or a Russian oligarch to keep you flush in that line. I’m actually using two European drugstore products right now: Schwarzkopf Gliss Hair Repair Shampoo + Intensive Treatment and L’Oreal Elseve Nutri-Gloss conditioner for colour-treated hair. Both very decent. I also love the John Frieda line for blond hair. For flyaways I always reach for MOP Shine Drops. Silkening, ungreasy and silicone-free! Wouldn’t be surprised if Deneuve uses them too.

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