This has been a breakout year for the 23-year-old English actress Florence Pugh. She went into the ring for Fighting with My Family, contended with a Swedish cult in Midsommar, and now stars in Little Women, Greta Gerwig’s interpretation of the classic Louisa May Alcott novel with an A-list cast. Maybe you’ll see it for Saoirse Ronan, Laura Dern, Meryl Streep, or Timothée Chalamet, but you likely leave thinking about Florence Pugh as the youngest March sister, Amy. More than just “the bratty one,” Pugh’s Amy is fiery and forthright. Holy crap, I thought to myself after a screening, I want to be an Amy. (Mind you, Jo March—the novelist and playwright of the family, played by Ronan—is the patron saint of women who write!)
But within Pugh’s big year, another star was born: The exquisite, intricate updo, which has become a signature of her red carpet style. I first noticed it in May, when Pugh appeared at the Cannes Film Festival in a tufty topknot that looked like it had been whipped into strategic disarray by a tiny cyclone. It was cool and chic and editorial; I immediately saved a photo of it on Instagram for future examination.
Pugh’s updos have taken many forms since, but they’re all the work of hairstylist Peter Lux, who has been working with her for the better part of two years. They are not the teased confections that, thanks to a regular diet of prom magazines consumed as a teenager, I associate with the word “updo”—they’re a little off-kilter, devoid of fluffiness or forgettable prettiness.
“She is always a strong young woman who knows what she wants,” Lux says of Pugh’s roles. And after listening to her talk about Amy’s strong-willed character at the start of the Little Women press tour, he decided that he wanted every look to be a statement. “She looks good with her hair being up and off her face,” he explains, which is why he often pulls Pugh’s thick, wavy hair toward the crown of her head. The move takes the softness out of a hairstyle (you get sharpness and strength, not romance) and places emphasis firmly on her face. It seems like a smart choice for an actress well on her way to becoming a household name—next year, Pugh is going full Marvel in Black Widow.
Here’s some more inspiration to save: the loopy bun, the alt-goddess braid, the loose chignon draped in gold chains, the slick twist bound by gold thread. The eye-catching multidimensionality of the updos comes down to unexpected details. Lux makes a point of always stopping in at millinery stores that sell ribbons and other materials that could come in handy later. This loopy bun has three diamond ear cuffs sewn into it that Lux spied on the jewelry tray while they were preparing for the Governor’s Awards. And the Moroccanoil-drenched braid Pugh wore to the Little Women premiere in Paris was fastened with wire wrapped in gold and silver thread, which he picked up at a haberdashery shop.
Celebrity hairstylists often work within the limitations of their clients’ goals, but Lux says that Pugh trusts him to get creative and experiment with her hair on the job. It’s why her parade of updos stood out to me in the first place: At the end of a decade that has seen so many beachy waves, so much no-styling styling, they signal unabashed effort. They’re decisively done. Amy would love it.
Photos via Peter Lux