Model Karlie Kloss moments before Garren snips off her long hair.
Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier
“Garren! Garren! I’ve been doing my homework!” cries Karlie Kloss, swinging open the front door of Patrick Demarchelier’s Chelsea photo studio.
It’s Monday afternoon, and Kloss—dressed in her model-off-duty uniform of a Marc Jacobs trench, Rag & Bone jeans, and flat suede Jimmy Choo boots—has just spent the weekend studying images of “sexy sixties” icons Jane Birkin and Jean Shrimpton at the legendary hairstylist’s request.
“I’ve been so happy/nervous/terrified for this moment,” she says, shrugging off her jacket. She’s made the decision to chop off nearly seven inches of her signature rope of dark hair, and, admittedly, she’s still contending with a slight case of “Should I or shouldn’t I?” butterflies. “I haven’t had short hair since the second grade,” she says. “It was a bob with bangs—and let me tell you, that was not a fabulous cut.”
Since first appearing in the pages of Vogue, the 20-year-old St. Louis native has quickly become one of the industry’s most recognizable faces, commanding a powerful presence on runways from Rodarte to Haider Ackermann and Lanvin. She recently bought her first home—a two-story town house in New York City’s West Village—and, along with friend Joan Smalls, took up the mantle of modeling icons Cindy Crawford, Shalom Harlow, and Amber Valletta as host of MTV’s House of Style, newly reimagined as a Web series. “It’s been a year of big change for me,” says Kloss. “Now feels like a good time for a fresh start.”
The look she’s here to get is short, choppy, and infinitely cool—and if you followed the spring collections this past September, chances are you’ve glimpsed its genesis. It first emerged in New York, when model Karen Elson, stylist Marina Muñoz, and front-row fixtures Lily Kwong and Margherita Missoni appeared with abbreviated, just-shorn hair that hovered somewhere below the chin. As the fashion flock rolled into Paris, the trend went with it: Arizona Muse—whose unstructured, not-quite-shoulder-length bob put short hair back on the map a few seasons ago—was spotted on the Anthony Vaccarello runway wearing a rumpled, piecey interpretation of her signature look, while Karl Lagerfeld collaborator Amanda Harlech turned up at Chanel with what hairstylist Sam McKnight labeled “a grown-up rebel undercut sort of thing.” Before long, the ubiquitous cut had been named the Chop—shorthand for its shaggy, just-took-the-shears-to-my-own-ponytail quality—and a fashion phenomenon was born.
“Short hair brings something different to the silhouette—a freedom of movement, shape to the shoulders,” says designer Olivier Theyskens, who was moved to try the look himself (abruptly shearing off the back-grazing mane he was known for) before sending his troupe of urban cool girls down the Theyskens’ Theory runway with the same unfussy, jaw-length style. Set against his tailored suits and floor-length day dresses, “the girls looked stronger, less romantic, more in control of their choices and their attitudes,” he said of the show.
It’s a confidence that translates to real life, too. Take Jessica Seinfeld, an early Chop pioneer. “I was 40, I wanted a change,” she says of the “emergency call” she made to her hairstylist Rheanne White, just over two years ago. “I said, ‘I need to get rid of my hair—I mean now.’ ” The ensuing style works effortlessly with her wavy natural texture and functions “as a great accessory” with favorite pieces like a Narciso Rodriguez jacket or a Sacai sweater-dress.