lanvin fall winter 2011 fashion runway backstage hair braid plait trend beautyA far cry from the playground and Pippi Longstocking, approved this season’s braided hairstyles are anything but precocious. Plaits of practically every thickness, erectile tautness and texture imaginable were represented on the fall runways, paired with both daytime ensembles and eveningwear. With so many options to choose from, there truly is a braid for every occasion. There are, however, a few guidelines for achieving the look on your own:


Play with placement. The side-braid has become increasingly popular, and with good reason. band of outsiders scott sternberg boy fall winter 2011 fashion runway hair side braid plait trend beautyGathering the hair over to one side brings the hair to the forefront, creating a more powerful statement than simply braiding straight down the back. At Band of Outsiders and Mara Hoffman, long side-braids were the look of choice, while Alexandre Herchcovitch, who has typically exhibited a proclivity for the avant-garde, showed an updated classic: a French braid that was pulled over to the side and dramatically swept over one eye. If a side-braid is a tad too asymmetrical for your taste, you really can’t go wrong with a standard braid down the center of the back. Spotted at Lanvin, Hermes and Pucci, this straightforward iteration of the trend can be worn from day to night, dressed up or down.

nanette lepore fall winter 2011 fashion runway backstage hair french braid plait trend beautyMore is (sometimes) more. Multiple smaller braids were another twist on the trend favored by several designers. At Etro, several tiny, tautly-pulled braids were woven around the head — this is most definitely a style reserved for pro plaiters. Meanwhile, at rag & bone, the look was decidedly more relaxed, with one or two small braids placed on either side of a middle part, as well as one thicker braid down the back. Finally, at Nanette Lepore, the front sections of the hair were softly French braided and pinned back off the face for a whimsical, vintage-inspired effect. When trying this look at home, though, there’s a fine line between on-trend and overwrought. Keep it down to two or three braids, maximum; any more would be excessive, and quite frankly, eccentric-looking.

Amp up the rest of your beauty look. Because a braid can sometimes tend to err on y-3 fall winter 2011 fashion runway backstage hair french braid pigtail plait trend beautythe casual side, it’s important to offset the off-duty look with stronger makeup, especially for evening. A sultry smoky eye or a bold red lip elevates the look, to quickly quash any assumptions that you’ve just returned from the gym. As always, it’s best to choose one facial feature to emphasize, whether it’s the eyes, the cheeks or the lips.

pucci emilio peter dundas fall winter 2011 fashion runway hair loose braid plait trend beautyKeep it loose. While tight braids were seen at Viktor & Rolf and Etro, the most successful (not to mention easier to re-create) takes on the trend were their looser, more insouciant counterparts. At Y-3, braided pigtails were loosely woven, with flyaways left untamed. The slackened plaits at Pucci and Lanvin were accented by the face-framing pieces of hair that were deliberately pulled out. At Rodarte, a single slim fishtail braid on one side served as the centerpiece of a messy, sideswept half-up style that complemented the homespun collection. The key to the look is to make it intentionally imprecise; the contrast between an elegant evening gown and a soft, undone braid is an arresting one. When you have finished weaving your hair, gently pull the braid apart, or run your hands throughout your hair to create a fuzzy, mussed texture. Never before has imperfection looked so, well, flawless.

by Gianna Froccaro