Top Knots

Remember, dear readers, last summer and how Heidi braids seized the limelight as the hairstyle of choice? Everywhere we turned there were pinned-up braids, haloing the heads of civilians and celebrities alike. (We even dedicated an episode of Who What Wear TV to the look!) Well, this year, another trend tornado is sweeping the fashionable elite and is sure to be the breakout style of the season. It's simple, stylish, and perfect for your inner slacker: the topknot!

The topknot-otherwise known as a super-high bun-is enjoying a sudden return to the spotlight thanks in part to designers like Jenni Kayne and Phillip Lim. The always ahead-of-the-curve Kayne presented her spring collection with be-knotted models; slightly messy hairstyle perfectly echoed the relaxed refinement of the designer's clothes. 3.1 Phillip Lim offered another version of this northern knot, an asymmetrical bun that perched on the models' heads like jaunty toy hats. The clearly defined side-part and doughnut-like shape might be a bit extreme for some readers, but it's intriguing nevertheless.

Now, this runway confection is being interpreted by the presiding pack of fashion favourites. Unsurprisingly, Erin Wasson's already mastered the style. She's worn variations on this look to a number of parties recently, including a Kayne-Lim combo topknot (high and messy, but off to one side) to a fete for photographer Russell James' eponymous book. Fellow downtown denizen Alexandra Richards also showed off a top-notch knot at a party celebrating Hell's Kitchen; she simply scraped back her blonde locks into a simple, high bun for instant chic.

Like most of our favourite trends-beauty and otherwise-the topknot is a flexible style that can be adapted to any occasion. While one might assume that the relaxed nature of this look is best suited to informal events, it's quickly becoming the event-do of choice for the cool crowd. Margherita Missoni went for a center-part topknot for the amfAR Cinema Against AIDS benefit at the Hotel du Cap during the recent film festival in Cannes. That same week, Chloe Sevigny also revealed her interpretation of the trend when she showed up at the Bulgari 125th Anniversary Dinner Celebration in Rome. Her wispy bangs add a little softness to the look, which is a nice contrast to her perfectly applied red lipstick and glamorous jewels.

When attempting this look at home, there are many different paths that will take you to your desired results. If you're interested in a more polished look, like the topknots shown at 3.1 Phillip Lim, you'll need to invest in a funny, slightly archaic tool: the hair doughnut. These foam or mesh circles, like the Luxor Pro Hair Foundation Bun Large Doughnut ($9), serve as the foundation of the bun and will give your hairstyle the desired shape. But first things first: to get the Lim look, start by creating a deep part on one side of your head. Gather your hair into a side ponytail (on the opposite side from the part) and secure it with an elastic band. If you need some help getting a smooth ponytail, spritz a little Herbal Essences Set Me Up Spray Gel ($4) in your hair for control. Pull the ponytail through your styling doughnut and pin the doughnut to your head. Then all you have to do is to cover the doughnut! Just wrap your ponytail around the doughnut to conceal it, and pin your hair in place as you go.

The edgier version of this look-as seen at Jenni Kayne and on Erin Wasson-is even easier to accomplish. The style looks best when you start with lots of texture in your hair. Hair guru Ted Gibson prepped Kayne's models by applying his own Fix It Gelicon ($28) to create waves, mixed with Tame It Shine Lotionicon ($31) for shine, then dried the hair without using a brush (fingers only!).

On a side note: if you've got fine, straight hair, we suggest spraying some dry shampoo in your roots and throughout your hair to bulk it up. (Klorane's Gentle Dry Shampoo ($18) will help even the most flat-haired ladies.) Also, you might want to add some body to your hair with a curling iron; just create some messy waves and you'll have a great base.

Foundation sorted, Gibson then pulled the hair up into a very high ponytail and fastened it with a bungee elastic. Next he roughed up the ponytail, then twisted it on itself until it creates a bun and is in the desired shape. Topknot in place, he anchored it with bobby pins and finished the look with his Beautiful Hold Hair Spray ($28). Voila! The season's knotty girl look-and it couldn't be easier!

Runway Images, from firstVIEW; Photos of Margarita Missoni and Alexandra Richards, from Getty Images.