I walked into the chic, perfectly lit space where the Jen Atkin x Chloe + Isabel hair accessories launch event was being held. Everyone was dressed in shades of gray and white, and peppered on top of each table were flowers and glass cases housing the collection. I walked over to each case to examine the pieces—they were absolutely perfect. Understated, modern, and cool. Which, coincidentally, is what comes to mind when you think of Jen Atkin, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Ouai. Her vibe was in every corner of the place, from the major guests (Ted Gibson, Charlotte Ronson, and Emily Weiss) to the focused collection. The collaboration boasts a whopping 50 products, each a weighty metal with a matte finish, but it feels completely cohesive.
I made my way over the bar (naturally), and the drinks being passed around were mixed to match the metals (silver, rose gold, and yellow gold). I grabbed a glass of rosé and sat down with Chloe + Isabel founder and CEO Chantel Waterbury. Aside from her infectious laugh and sunshine-y demeanor, it was clear that Waterbury was a smart businesswoman who knew what she was talking about.
“It happened really organically,” she explained of the partnership with Atkin. “We had a mutual friend in common.” She went on, “We’re not hair experts, so when we met, it was perfect because she is the ultimate hair expert. She has such a strong point of view and a really strong design aesthetic. It worked so well because we’re experts at one thing: We know how to make the products, and she’s an expert at another. We got to come together and make, essentially, jewelry for the hair.”
“Then,” Waterbury mused with an excited look, “I found out that she has Mane Addicts and Mane University. Her mission is to figure out how to take her skill set and transfer that to other people. And that’s exactly what Chloe + Isabel is about. It’s this vision of empowerment and education—we found common ground in both our aesthetic and our mission. We can sometimes be a bit more boho, but Jen really knew how to drive her design. She knew exactly how to sketch it, design it, give notes. It was serendipitous; it was such a joy.”
I asked how they decided on metal, and she mentioned they “flirted with a couple of different things, but on the day of the shoot, Jen just gravitated toward the metal. We have something for everyone, and because she has such a modern aesthetic, we knew metal pieces would show off the quality. You want something to feel weighty and luxe when you touch and feel it. It’s really hard to do a good job with metal, but that’s something we excel at.”
At this point, Atkin took a seat and began explaining her part in the whole thing. “I have been asked for years to do a collaboration, and I finally feel like the timing was right. It felt really organic to do it with Chloe + Isabel. Something was missing in the market: There are pieces at the drugstore level that can feel adolescent or things that I would find in Dubai for $500. No one’s going to pay that for hair accessories.”
“They totally understood my vision with the colors, and their design is so great,” Atkin continued. “They’re known for such great quality. These are for the classic Céline girl, the hippie girl—anyone. Beyond that, I love that Chloe + Isabel is really focused on women becoming businesspeople, really empowering and educating them to get the tools they need to create their own business. To me, that is such an important message.”
After we were through with the shop talk, I challenged Atkin to a lighting round of Would You Rather questions, which she quickly accepted. These were some of the fun highlights.
BYRDIE: Air-dry or blow dry?
JEN ATKIN: Blow dry with the new Dyson blow-dryer, because I have it!
BYRDIE: Wave spray or dry shampoo?
JA: Wave spray.
BYRDIE: Dye Kim Kardashian’s hair pink, or give Khloé a pixie?
JA: I have to go with pink. Pink on Kim would be so major.
BYRDIE: Matte or shiny?
JA: Matte all the way, because I’m shiny all the time!
BYRDIE: Give up Instagram for a month or Snapchat for a week?
JA: Instagram for a month.
BYRDIE: Braids! Tight boxer braids or loose, textured braids?
JA: Tight boxer braids because everyone loves a good face-lift.
BYRDIE: High ponytail or low bun?
JA: High ponytail on everyone else; low bun on myself.
BYRDIE: If you could switch hair with any celebrity who would it be?
JA: Christine Centenera from Vogue Australia because I copy her anyway.
BYRDIE: If you could style any celebrity’s hair, who would it be?
BYRDIE: What would you do?
JA: I’d do her signature sleek bun, but then I’d put the bun cuff from Chloe + Isabel around it.
Afterward, things got really fun. Jen took over Byrdie’s Snapchat to show off the new pieces and then… wait for it… did my hair! I swear it was like my curls were being styled by angel fingers (not to mention the same hands that style Kendall, Kylie, Kim, Khloé, and Kourtney on a daily basis).
It took her not even five seconds to give me the coolest topknot I’d ever been blessed with, and then perhaps another two seconds to attach the Jen Atkin x Chloe + Isabel Bun Cuff ($45), which in my opinion is the hero piece. I did a quick mirror check on my phone and was stunned. It looked so cool. And, mind you, my hair was unwashed and not at its best. The trick? Flip your head over and secure a bun around the crown of your head (don’t be shy, the messier the better). Then slide the cuff over the base of the bun, slide the pin in, and voilà! You’re a Jen Atkin client in seconds flat.
[Ed note: This collection was limited edition and is no longer available].
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