A classic hairstyle is in the limelight this spring with the launch of the movie The Hunger Games and its braid-wearing, butt-kicking teenage heroine, Katniss Everdeen.
Add to that the collection of braids on models at spring runway shows and stars on red carpets, and you have what looks to be one of the hottest hairstyles for women this year.
The Hunger Games opens nationwide Friday and stars Louisville native Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Union native Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, her friend and love interest.
Based on a phenomenally popular trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is set in a post- apocalyptic North America where a totalitarian government stages annual televised games in which teenagers, or "tributes," including Katniss and Peeta, are selected by lottery to fight to the death.
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Along with the bow and arrow that Katniss employs in the games, she is known for her signature side-swept braid, a look that figures prominently on movie posters and has spawned a host of YouTube how-to videos.
And as so often happens, fashion and popular culture are meshing. Months ago at the spring 2012 runway shows, models at Valentino sported "milkmaid"-style braids that wrapped around their heads.
For Michael Kors' show, hairstylist Orlando Pita accented models' big, messy braids by intertwining them with strips of leather. Among his arsenal of products to add texture to hair — the key to it "holding" a braid, he said — were Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray and American Crew Defining Paste.
The look has also been seen on many red carpets, with early adopter Blake Lively donning a messy braid for last summer's premiere of The Green Lantern and The Artist star Bérénice Bejo sporting a pretty braided up-do at the Oscars last month.
In Lexington, Shawnee Miller, a stylist at Você Salon, says intricate fishtail braids, so named for their fish bone-shaped lines, were a hit last year and are still going strong.
"It's a more difficult look with tinier sections, so it makes it more detailed, more interesting," she said of the allure of the style, also called a herringbone braid.
Instead of braiding the typical three sections of hair, the fishtail uses four. Details on how to create the look, and many other braided styles, can be found all over YouTube. Or grab a copy of the new book Cozy's Complete Guide to Girls' Hair by Cozy Friedman and Sheryl Berk (Artisan, $15.95); although it focuses on styles for young people, it has a chapter on braids that could be adapted for adults.
When she's braiding, Miller teases hair at the crown for volume. "And once you're done with the braid, pull some strands out," she said. "Everybody wants that messy look right now."
And when it comes to accenting the hair, Miller says to keep it basic: "Usually I just use plain bands, or clear, so it looks like nothing's holding it."