“Elise” the assistant called out.
Elise turned her head to the voice, with her eyebrows raised.
“Can you follow me, Denzel just wants to see you really quickly.”
Elise couldn’t tell whether to be excited or nervous, Denzel was the artistic director of the entire fashion show, someone that she hadn’t had a one on one conversation with yet.
“Uh okay sure” she got up from the sofa and followed the assistant. Like many backstages there was tons going on, girls being debriefed, dressers finalising outfits and an assortment of technicians going over sound and lighting. The fashion show was beginning tomorrow, with over 30 men and women due to walk the runway. The show was organised by Burberry, and for Elise (like most of the other models) this was a special opportunity.
The assistant led her to Denzel, fashionably dressed as ever in a trench coat, who was in conversation with women Elise couldn’t put a name to. She looked to be about 40, with big red glasses and curly blond hair.
“Hey Elise, how’s it going?” Denzel extended his hand.
“Great thank you” she said as they shook hands.
“This right here is Juliet, I don’t think you guys have met right?” He said as he gestured towards the women to his side.
“No not yet, it’s good to meet you” Elise gave her a warm smile.
“Likewise” Juliet replied cooley in a British accent.
“We just wanted to take a quick look at your hair if you don’t mind?”
Elise was caught off guard by the request.
“Uhh yeah of course” she flicked her hair from behind her to over her shoulders. She never really thought of hair as something special, it was dark brown, thick, straight and reaching to a length just above her bra strap.
“Just going to get a feel for it” Juliet said as she came closer to her with her hands reached out. Her fingers were thin and Elise could feel the many rings on them as she ran her fingers through it and tousled it slightly.
“So?” Denzel said to Juliet as she returned to her side.
“It’s nice and thick so worries there. I mean I think you’re definitely right it would look stunning on her.” Juliet continued analysing Elise as she spoke.
Elise began to wonder what exactly they were talking about. It was something that you had to get used to as a model, people would be talking about you right in your face, analysing your face, hair, dimensions. It was something Elise had become used to over the years. At the age of 21, she had been modeling for over 4 years now.
Denzel scratched his chin and looked as if he was thinking long and hard.
“Okay Elise,” Denzel broke the silence. “Right now we’re in the midst of a couple last minute changes for tomorrow. I was speaking to some of the others and we want to move you to the outerwear group.”
Elise nodded slowly, originally she was in the opening group, but it wasn’t uncommon for these sort of changes to take place.
“But… we’re gonna have to make some changes to your appearance first, specifically your hair”
Again Elise slowly nodded. Each group had a different look, so again this was to be expected.
“I’m not too sure if you have seen what the guys and girls in that group look like but it’s quite a dark look, with like heavier, darker makeup to go with the clothes. But also, and this is I guess what we want to ask you, the 2 girls we already have, they have a bit of an androgynous look. That’s sorta the look that we’re going for with the women in that group.”
Elise started to get some tingles in her stomach, she had an idea where this was going.
“So yeah we want to give you something short too, to match the others. Are you okay with that?”
Elise swallowed. As someone who had always had hair at least shoulder length, going short wasn’t something she had truly considered. Denzel had framed this as a question, but she knew how these things worked. It wasn’t her decision, the decision had already been made for her, she could either accept or be on the bad side of Burberry’s creative director.
“Umm I guess I’m fine with that” she said uneasily. “How short is short though?”
Denze gestured towards Juliet who moved next to her again.
“It’s going to be short,” she said as she moved behind her and pulled her hair back into a ponytail. “All this we’ll have to get rid of, what I’m envisioning is something sleek, to show these beautiful ears.”
Elise felt her mouth go dry. Holy fuck she said internally. It was properly short, way shorter than she had anticipated.
“Ideally we want to get you cut right now” Denzel said with a glance at his watch.
Holy fuck she said to herself again. This was happening right now, no time to prepare or anything. She felt light headed. Just like that it had been decided she would go from a long haired girl to a short haired one.
“Luckily I can assure you that you are in great hands, Juliet here has been my head stylist for 3 years now, and she runs a very established salon back in London.”
“That’s great” Elise said even though his words had done nothing to calm her nerves.
“I’ll get my stuff ready, if you maybe want to use the toilet real quick or have something to drink? You can meet me over at hair in 5” She motioned to the row of salon chairs in the corner of the hall.
Elise nodded, still coming to grips with what was unfolding.
“Okay sounds good” she gritted through her teeth. She walked swiftly to the drinking fountain and gulped down a glass of water, quenching her dry throat.
“Where did you go?” a voice asked her from behind
It was Romi, a girl Elise had been talking to earlier in the day. Elsie must’ve looked frazzled because she then asked;
“They’re cutting all my hair off” Elise blurted, feeling more overwhelmed by the minute.
“What?” Romi said as she took a step closer with a confused look on her face.
“Yeah, I’m in the outwear group now and they’re giving me this pixie cut it sounds like. In legit 2 minutes.” Elsie said with panic in her voice.
“Woah,” Romi said, the surprise clear on her face. “I mean you’re gonna rock that I can just tell.”
“I hope so” Elise said as she bit her lip in concern.
“Come give me a hug” Romi opened her arms and the two embraced.
After about 10 seconds Elise pulled back and took a deep breath, trying to control her nerves somewhat.
“Okay, okay, I can do this” She said to herself but aloud.
“Go get it over with babe, I know you’re gonna look even sexier” Romi said with a sincere smile.
Elise smiled back.
She took another deep breath and started walking. The hair area consisted of a long white table. On each side were 4 black salon style chairs facing circular double sided mirrors. Behind the table, in the corner, sat 3 washing basins. Juliet stood next to the right most chair, her head down looking at her phone. There was no one else at the station. Elise’s legs felt weak as she approached her. Juliet gazed upwards, saw Elise approaching and pocketed her phone.
“Hey Elise” she turned the chair to face her. “Please take a seat”
“Thanks” Elise said as she lowered herself onto the chair.
The chair was turned and Elise now could view herself in the mirror. In front of her under the mirror was a small black towel. Atop it sat a pair of silver scissors, a razor, a comb and a few sectioning clips. Elise gulped, knowing these would be the tools used to remove her long hair.
“Nervous?” Juliet asked as she placed her hands on the back of the chair.
“Yeah, can’t lie I am” Elise said, forcing a timid smile.
Juliet nodded and pursed her lips slightly.
“Nothing wrong with that love, it’s a very big change you’re about to go through. But… if it’s any help, I can assure you that when I’m done, you will look stunning.” Juliet came to her side and looked at her in her eyes. “I promise you that okay?”
Elise did feel slightly better by her sincerity and nodded gratefully in return.
“And look I know Denzel said androgynous, but it’ll still be feminine, so you don’t need to worry about that alright?”
Again Elise nodded.
“Okay, well I like all my clients to know exactly what I’m going to do so I’ll quickly run through the sorta steps we’ll take.
Another couple nods from Elise.
“Just real quick I’ll take you over and give you a quick shampoo and condition. Then I’ll get rid off the bulk, the hair we know we won’t need.” Juliet pulled her hair back behind her to demonstrate. “So that’s when most of the hair is gonna be removed. Then I’ll section the hair a bit and finish the shape. So like I said earlier it’s gonna be short, really only a couple inches all over. Remember the pixie that Hathaway had a few years back? Think that but maybe a smidge shorter”
She flicked Elise’s hair back over her shoulders, giving her a chance to take in how much of a change this was about to be.
Elise recognised it. “Yeah, yeah I did” she said, struggling to get coherent words out.
“Well something like that is the plan.” Juliet then picked up the razor from the counter in front of her. “I’m going to be using my feather razor for the whole cut, maybe the scissors for a bit .”
Elise looked closely at the razor, shuddering at the idea that very soon it would be slicing away her long hair. Juliet placed the razor back on the counter.
Elise shook her head. “No”
“Let’s get started then I don’t wanna drag this out for you” Juliet turned the chair to the side and Elise pushed herself up.
Juliet went ahead and positioned herself behind one of the sinks. She motioned for Elise to sit, and she slid into the leather seat.
A towel was draped over her shoulders, and Elise could feel her hair being pulled up into the basin. Water started gushing out from the tap.
“Temperature okay?” Juliet asked
“Yep, no problem”
Elise closed her eyes as the shampoo was worked into her hair. She couldn’t believe how quickly this had all happened, she hadn’t even had time to tell her boyfriend. Now she suddenly had this fear her boyfriend Nick would be angry at her. She remembered what she had learnt in her mediation course and tried to clear her mind.
Juliet washed out the shampoo and began massaging in the conditioner. Elise tried to appreciate the feeling of her long hair being pampered, fully aware her long haired days were ending any minute now.
The sound of the water being turned off sent shivers down her spine. She could feel her hair being pulled up and a towel being wrapped around it.
“Alright let’s get you back to the chair then” Juliet said as she gently tapped her shoulder.
Reluctantly Elise rose and followed her to the chair. She looked out at some of the other girls getting their clothing fitted or learning their routine, wishing she could trade places with any of them. She slowly lowered herself back into the seat.
Juliet reached under the table and pulled out a white cape. She unruffled it and draped it across Elise’s body, clipping it around her neck. The towel was pulled from her head and her hair fell down against the cape. Wet it was almost black in colour and contrasted against the white of the cape. Juliet wrung out her hair with the towel before reaching for the comb on the table.
“Ever had anything short before love?” she asked as she pulled out her stool and began combing through the hair.
“Uh no not really, about to my shoulders is the shortest I think” she said breathlessly. She was struggling to control her nerves at this point.
“Well it’ll be a very foreign feeling then I guess, having it off your neck. Off your ears even too.” She paused to smile at Elise through the mirror.
Elise could appreciate she was trying to be helpful but her description of her ears free of hair made her feel like throwing up.
“I’ll give you some tips for styling and stuff once we’re done.” Juliet added
Juliet continued combing through her hair, pulling it from root to tip down her back. The wait was killing Elise, she almost wished she could skip until this was all over.
As if she was reading her mind, Juliet moved to the counter. Elise watched intently as her slender fingers picked up the razor. She turned to face her and raised her eyebrows.
“Let’s do this shall we love” she said silkily.
Elise grabbed the armrest tightly under the cape. Slowly she nodded slightly, trying to come to grips with the cropping that was about to occur.
Juliet moved to behind her and Elise could feel her sectioning away a segment of her hair. She was struggling to breath at this point.
“Here we go” Juliet said calmly. Elise squeezed her eyes shut.
Elise could feel tension on her scalp as the section was pulled taunt. Then a tugging feeling as the razor went to work. She couldn’t help wince as she heard the razor, sounding like it was almost sawing at her hair.
Suddenly the tugging stopped. Elise opened her eyes only to see Juliet holding a chunk of her severed hair.
“A souvenir for you” she said as she dropped it onto the cape. It slid down and settled in Elise’s lap. She swallowed hard, struggling to look at the 10 inch long mass of hair now sitting atop her legs. Whether she liked it or not there wouldn’t be any going back.
The hair had swung forward, suddenly without so much of the weight and Elise could see just how short it already was. It hung to just past her chin, the ends raggedy from the razor.
She felt another section being pulled back and again felt the razor running back and forth against the hair. After just a few seconds she heard a plop sound as it hit the hard floor.
Again she felt Juliet pull her comb through another section, before her fingers pulled out the hair. With a few swift swipes another clump of hair slapped onto the ground.
“How’s it coming along?” a voice called out, surprising Elise. She turned to see Denzel standing behind her.
“Well no tears yet huh?” Juliet said playfully while making eye contact with Elise through the mirror.
Elise realised her throat was completely dry and croaked in reply “It’s going okay”
“Almost removed all the bulk, then I’ll take it tight to the head.”
“Great, I’ll let you get back to it then. You’re gonna look great” he gave Elise a thumbs up as he left the hair station.
Juliet recentered Elise’s head and again took another section between her fingers. Without pause the razor sliced through the hair and Elise watched as Juliet let it drop to the floor.
“That’s the majority of it off” Juliet announced as she then ruffled the remaining hair. Elise swallowed glumly, her hair was now reduced to a shaggy chin length mop. Already it was significantly shorter than anything she had before.
“My god” Elise said softly turning her head side to side.
“Don’t worry it’s still very far from the finished product” Juliet said as walked to the counter and grabbed some clips. Using her comb she began to section the remaining hair.
“You’re hair is gonna dry in about 2 minutes flat now you know” Juliet said attempting to lighten the mood. “Pretty crazy huh?”
Elise still looked rather shell shocked but replied; “Yeah I bet it’ll save me some time in the mornings”
Juliet had sectioned the hair into 4 sections, one atop her head, 2 on either side of her head and 1 at her nape area. Juliet picked up the razor again and gently pushed Elise’s chin to her chest.
Taking some hair between her fingers she quickly sliced through it, 4 or 5 inches of wet hair landing on her neck before Juliet swiped it to the floor. Juliet worked efficiently, taking down the length to only a few inches. Elise couldn’t help cringe as she felt more and more hair fall to her neck. She could tell it was short from how tight against her skin Juliet’s hands were.
Once the section was complete Juliet tussled the now short hair. She razored away any hairs that sat wrongly before moving her seat so she was at Elise’s left side. She unclipped the hair and took another section between her fingers. With a quick swipe another clump of hair was removed, this time it tumbled down the cape into Elise’s lap. For the first time Elise could see just how short her remaining hair was. It spiked out from her head, protruding no more than 2 or 3 inches from her scalp. Elise swallowed hard, she could see her new look beginning to materialise. She could feel her eyes begin to water. I better not look like a freak she said to herself.
Elise watched silently as Juliet took section after section between her fingers before sending the hair down the cape or to the floor. Juliet tilted Elise’s head to the side.
“Now we can see those gorgeous ears” She remarked. Seeing her ears exposed like that was a foreign feeling for Elise.
Juliet straightened her again and after razoring away a couple more sections of hair, the left side was complete. Juliet then wheeled herself to the right side and undid the clips there. The hair flopped down, reaching Elise’s chin. The left side of her head ominously foreshadowed what was about to happen to the right side.
Juliet didn’t waste anytime, her razor quickly removing length. More and more strands slid down the front of the cape. Elise felt sick as she noticed how large the pile in her lap had become. The first 10 inch chunk Juliet had cut sat rigidly atop her legs and surrounding it were smaller strands. Not wanting it in her vision anymore she lifted the cape from underneath with her hands. The hair slid slowly down the front of the cape, plopping onto the floor.
Juliet sent more hair to the floor as she finished with the right section. She then unclipped the final top section. Using her comb she pulled the remaining hair forward covering Elise’s eyes. Juliet brought the razor up to her eyebrows and began slicing away more of Elise’s wet hair. After a couple chunks were removed, Elise’s vision was no longer blocked and she watched as more hair tumbled into her lap. It was hard to believe the girl she saw in the mirror was even her anymore. There seemed to be barely any hair left at all.
Juliet continued, giving her a fringe that sat just above her eyebrows. She took more hair further back in the section between her fingers, bringing it down to the correct length. More wet hair was casually tossed to the ground after it was razored away. A few moments later and the last long strand was tumbling to the floor. Juliet moved around her head, carefully going over the hair she had already cut, perfecting the look. The cape was then unclipped and pulled away. Elise’s hands almost immediately went to her head. The shock almost made her jump, there was almost nothing between her head and her fingers, just a short pelt of her dark hair.
“Looks amazing on you love” Juliet said warmly, admiring her handiwork.
Elise stood up from the chair, noted the piles of hair laying around her, and moved close to the mirror to properly inspect her hair. It was a very delicate cut Elise had to admit, Juliet was obviously an expert. But fuck its short she said to herself, turning her head side to side. This change would take a while to get used to.
“Do you like it dear?” Juliet asked
Despite how big of a change it was Elise found herself nodding.
“Yes, yes I do” she replied. At least Juliet had made it as feminine and sexy as possible Elise noted to herself.
Juliet then reached for a broom and began gathering up the hair from the floor. Elise watched slightly forlorn as the still wet hair was swept into a pile and pushed to the corner of the room.
Juliet unlocked her BMW and lowered herself into the driver’s seat. She had enjoyed today, that she could not deny. There was something about changing someone’s look entirely, going from long to short hair, that felt both rewarding and exciting to her. She took a few moments as she sat in her car, recalling the haircut she had just given Elise. In her career as a successful stylist she had been very fortunate to have had many opportunities to perform some radical makeovers. As she turned on her car and pulled out of the parking lot, she began to reminisce about some of her favourite memories.