Over the last few months, we’ve had our eyes trained on a rising star in the hair industry—Los Angeles-based hairstylist Carly Walters. We’re banking on Walters becoming the next big name in hair, and to accelerate her rise to the top, we partnered with TRESemmé to send her to work her first-ever runway show at New York Fashion Week.
When I first became a beauty editor, reporting backstage at New York Fashion Week felt like the pinnacle of “made it” level success—proof that all those summers working glamorous internships for less-than-glamorous paychecks were worth it. But when I finally found myself backstage at Jason Wu that first time, I was unprepared for the level of chaos. I ran about desperately trying to get a quote, shoving my iPhone in front of everyone else’s for photos, all while dodging hot curling irons. And when it was all over, I immediately booked it to a glass of wine.
This season, rising hairstylist Carly Walters got to experience her first fashion week as a stylist, working with TRESemmé backstage at Milly—but unlike me during my first NYFW, she arrived with her game face on. After weeks of mentoring by top names in the biz (think Ursula Stephen, Tyler Laswell, and Marco Peña), she had all the tools—and the confidence—she needed to work mane magic. We sat down with Walters to get her thoughts on styling through the stress, as well as her tips for a next-level runway-worthy pony.
Now that you’ve had some time for it to sink in, how do you feel about your first fashion week?
This may sound odd, but I was surprised by how exciting it was. It really did live up to the hype. One of the most exciting parts was working for TRESemmé, in particular, because they’ve been around for decades. Everyone knows them as a staple at fashion week, so to be part of that team and to create a full runway style with their products was really fun.
What was one of the more surprising aspects of working backstage for you?
I thought it would be more chaotic, but there really was a method to the madness. The hairstylists were all so organized, and the steps to create the look were already laid out and simplified.
What skill from your Road to #TRESNYFW stuck with you for the show?
I actually ran into Tyler [Laswell] and Marco [Peña] backstage. Tyler showed me how it’s all about prepping the hair and putting in the right products before you even blow-dry the hair; it thickens up the strands. And Marco told me I could use more product than you would think—that it’ll give the hair a more textured, piece-y look.
You had less than 30 minutes to get the look ready for the runway. How’d you deal with the right timing?
I’m used to working quickly with clients. You work fast to figure out what the style’s going to be, how to go about it in the best manner, and how to accomplish what you need to.
Did you learn any lessons backstage you'll continue to use throughout your career?
To utilize your peers! Being thrown in so quickly and having to accomplish a style in a short amount of time, you can’t be afraid to ask questions or ask an assistant to step in a hold a strand. You also have to know what the products you’re working with do and how they’ll accomplish a look so that you don’t waste any time.
On that note, can you break down this textured ponytail for us? I’m so happy to see a wearable pony on the runway!
You start by washing hair with TRESemmé Thick & Full Shampoo and Conditioner ($5 each) for volume. Then you part the hair and work in a coin-size amount of TRESemmé Thick & Full Thickening Balm($5). Don’t be afraid to go from roots to ends to really impart that texture. Next, use a .75-inch iron, and wrap 1 ½–inch sections of hair around the iron, leaving the ends out and holding for three to five seconds. Then spray dry shampoo at the roots to give even more texture, and separate the curls with your fingers. Once you have the texture, gather hair at the base or right at your neck, and pull it super tight. Secure with a bungee band. And finish by spraying TRESemmé Compressed Micro-Mist Level 2 Hair Spray ($5) for flexible hold.
So now that you’ve styled at fashion month, do you feel like you’ve checked something off your bucket list? What’s next?
It’s a goal everyone wants to experience once or twice to see what this world is about. Being a hairstylist, there are so many avenues you can take. You have to experience a little bit of everything to find your avenue. Maybe keying a show is next [being lead stylist]. To create the looks, the stylist pitches a few hairstyles and works with the designer to match the vibe they want. It’s similar to when you’re with a client and you collaborate on the process. I’d like to do that.