As the minutes ticked down to Shayne Oliver’s debut collection for Helmut Langon Monday night, those watching the live stream surveyed the buzzing crowd: Lil Yachty, Kelela, Paloma Elsesser. But for a solid minute, the wide-angle camera alighted on a magnetic head of fluoro-canteloupe hair, zooming in like a moth to a flame. For anyone in Madeline Poole‘s downtown circle—or among her 143,000 Instagram followers—her new candy-bright dye job was unmistakable. The nail artist was in the building.
“I’ve always embraced that I was eccentric and colorful, but lately it’s gone to the next level,” Poole explains of a wardrobe that’s increasingly crammed with graphic patterns and ultra-brights. “I just realized, ‘Wait, it does not make sense for me to have brown hair—this is crazy.'” Though she’d long considered an unconventional dye job, she wasn’t looking for off-the-rack pink. It was only after she spotted someone on the street with a shade of “clementine-neon-pastel-peach”—a unicorn in the land of hair color—that inspiration struck. “I found a reference, which was a Troll doll. Literally a Troll doll,” Poole deadpans, marveling at its exact riff on her favorite palette: sun-bleached electrics by way of Miami. Shortly before New York Fashion Week, she turned up at Salon Ruggeri to see the colorist Illeisha Lussiano for what turned out to be a marathon eight-hour session. “Illy was so, so detailed—I was really amazed,” says Poole, a tough critic whose own precision handwork and pitch-perfect eye landed her the role of global color ambassador for Sally Hansen.
There is, of course, a trickle-down effect for such a transformation. Poole’s manicures—often intricate designs that show off her art-school pedigree—have since taken a turn toward the classics. Hair accessories, like kawaii fruit-shaped clips and scrunchies, are now in rotation. As for her wardrobe, a funny thing happened: She’s learned to love a neutral. “I’d always think, ‘This is so drab; it’s washing me out,” she recalls of the khaki, gray, and army-green tones she’d usually shrug off in her brunette days. But then, freshly dyed, she tried on a neon-red-and-pink houndstooth number that she’d bought for fashion week, thinking it would be her ace in the hole. “I was like, I am a clown! I can’t do this,” she says with a laugh.
Here, Poole chronicles these sartorial shifts in a NYFW photo diary that follows her from Adam Selman’s show to Sandy Liang‘s studio—an odyssey that has earned her no small amount of attention. Her crew has given her the pet name “Shrimpy.” Designer friends are combing through racks for pieces that will vibrate with her cartoon-flamingo hair. “Strangers are engaging with me more, in a nice way. I probably get 17 compliments when I’m walking down the street,” Poole reports. She’s already daydreaming about the next experiment—a spot-on shade of periwinkle-tinged sky blue—but for now she’s staying the course with regular Manic Panic upkeep. “I let the FedEx guy in, and he was like, “I remember you!” she says of her erstwhile anonymity. Not that she misses it. “I like being remembered. Who doesn’t?”Tags: Salon Ruggeri, Salon Ruggeri NYC, Salon Ruggeri Style, Vogue