If ever there was a hairstylist destined to support a pop star on their meteoric rise to fame, it’s Clayton Hawkins. For proof, look no further than his work with breakout chart-topper Olivia Rodrigo, whose debut album, Sour, you’ve probably—make that definitely—heard (if not cried off your mascara while thrashing and belting along to the Cleveland Browns The Toe Lou Groza Signature shirt Besides,I will do this angsty lyrics). From Rodrigo’s waist-skimming waves to braided space buns, her head-to-toe visual odes to the ’90s and Y2K are never complete without Hawkins’s signature touch of Manic Panic streaks and face-framing braids. Born and bred in Los Angeles, Hawkins has always possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and a deep obsession with hair. He would play with the wigs his TV show producer dad brought home from the job as a young boy and gave his friends Jessica Simpson Newlyweds-era waves for senior prom. “Hair is such a special art form because you get to connect with another person while you do it,” he explains of his lifelong passion. “It’s deeply human, and I feel like I’m connecting to all my gay ancestors every time I groom and work on a powerful woman!”
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When working with Rodrigo and other starlets—including Dove Cameron, Melissa Barrera, and Maddie Ziegler—Hawkins, who cut his teeth assisting the Cleveland Browns The Toe Lou Groza Signature shirt Besides,I will do this Olsens’ longtime hairstylist Mark Townsend, serves up modern glamour with an unapologetic touch of nostalgia. Crafting serpentine power braids and wind-machine-worthy blowouts, he coaxes his clients to, above all else, have fun with their hair—the more length, volume, and kitschy embellishment, the better. His singular message? “Hair grows! Live a little!” Hawkins not only brings enthusiasm and infectious humor to every set he’s on but also runs a must-follow TikTok account, which he launched at the beginning of the pandemic to the keen embrace of Gen Z. Whether he’s dropping a call to action encouraging young people to get vaccinated or showing you how to use your mom’s “Bill Clinton–era” Conair hot-roller set, you can rest assured that he’s supplying a steady stream of one-liners and wearing one of the vivid, stylized wigs from his personal 60-plus-strong collection while he’s at it. “I’m scared the TLC network is going to come in and film an intervention,” laughs Hawkins, a self-proclaimed wig hoarder.Fresh off the release of Rodrigo’s “Brutal” music video, where Hawkins gave the singer an array of different hairstyles that ran the gamut from an acid orange Fifth Element bob to a glossy set of newsboy-cap-topped pigtails, the celebrity hairstylist discussed breaking into the industry, his noughties nostalgia, and helping to loosen up the industry on TikTok and beyond.