In this month’s issue of ELLE, I’m putting the spotlight on writer Molly Langmuir. Her piece, “Hot or Not” (p.156 Beauty Test-Drive, August 2014) is some of the best beauty writing I’ve seen thus far. Unfortunately, the article isn’t available (yet?) online; uploaded to this post are scans of the actual magazine pages.
The beauty story begins business as usual, an almost run-off-the-mill hook of a subhead, “Do cool girls use heat tools? To get summer’s ultimate hair—loose, lovely, and very undone—Molly Langmuir gives her blow-dryer the day off.” Then it opens with an introduction of a hairstylist by the name of Luigi Murenu as “a man so famous for his work with hair that he has actual groupies,” setting the tone for the rest of the feature.
Upon reading the opening section on blow-drying and the damage that can ensue from it, “If water evaporates from hair too rapidly, shafts can erupt in unseemly fissures that exacerbate frizz and diminish shine; if turned up too high, heat tools can cause ‘blisters,’ which can lead to breakage,” I am floored. Then I check who’d written it. Then I read on. And here’s a post dedicated to the entirety of the article and its author.
Langmuir is brilliant.
She proceeds to write about flying to the Kérastase headquarters in Paris to test the brand’s new in-salon treatment called Discipline, which “promises to to help hair dry faster [and] leave it smoother for 10 shampoos.” She quotes Murenu as the artistic director, and just when you start thinking, Oh, okay, this is one of those articles that follow a writer’s attendance of a press junket, Langmuir never mentions Kérastase, nor its parent company, L’Oréal, for the rest of the piece. Then she proceeds to quote not one, not two, but NINE experts ranging from hairdressers to celebrity stylists, to chemist/R&D folks. She mentions hair habits of a handful celebs: the Olsen twins, Alexa Chung, Vanessa Paradis, and does all of the above in the span of two short pages (I wanted to eyeball the word count—1000?)!
It means she not only went to the event, but thoroughly researched the piece and likely emailed a bunch of people from her Contacts, curating all that they had to say in a way that beefed up the story. I love how she incorporates aspects of the trip, quotes, Hollywood, and more into an impeccably written, journalistic, and editorially sound feature.
Finally, instead of closing with some generic ode to great hair days ahead, she finishes by talking about hairstylist Didier Malige’s Persian cats’ whiskers that the latter collects in a whisker box. It’s perfection!
ELLE cover photo courtesy of Hearst Magazines.