By Kamila Daurenova; Photography by Trevor Smith

Mark Townsend


| Silver Lake

It takes a great hand and a stroke of genius to create a “locks look” that sends thousands of girls running to their hairstylist– reference photo in hand. But, just like his mentor, Sally Hershberger (who gave Meg Ryan her signature “Sally Shag”), celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend has created some major #hairinspo over the years. Think Mary Kate and Ashley’s signature textured waves for the past 13 years and– even more infamous– Reese Witherspoon’s trendsetting bangs (who could forget their red carpet debut at the 2007 Golden Globes?!). Moving to New York from Florida, Townsend jumpstarted his career by assisting Oribe Canales, a Versace and Chanel-appointed hairstylist, but it was his hands-on apprenticeship with Hershberger that turned out to be his greatest education (at the time, Hershberger worked with stars like David Bowie, Jane Fonda and Michelle Pfieffer). Ultimately, the stars would align when Tom Cruise was looking for a hairstylist for his upcoming film, Vanilla Sky; Hershberger recommended Townsend for the role and soon, Townsend was styling the entire cast– Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz included. Fast-forward 15 years and now, he’s the preferred on-set stylist for photographers as major as Terry Richardson, Peter Linderbergh, and Annie Leibovitz. So, what does that look like exactly? Well, he spends his days tousling the locks of It-girl after It-girl (ahem, Dakota Johnson, Jennifer Lawrence, Lea Michele…) for glossies like Esquire, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, Vanity Fair and Vogue. His mastery of soft, romantic hairstyles and his innovation of modern hits has made him one of the most influential stylists of today. After all, who else could be trusted to cut waist-length extensions off of an eight-month pregnant Cate Blanchett just before walking into the SAG Awards? Here, Townsend sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on LA.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: I am such a creature of habit so I usually go to the same five places in my neighborhood because I know they’re going to be good. My go-to spot is The Black Cat (MAP IT, x)– it’s cool and laid-back, and they have amazing drinks and food (the best chicken wings in Los Angeles). I love Little Dom’s (MAP IT, x) for both lunch and dinner– especially sitting in the booths by the bar on Wednesday night for the chicken parmigiana special! My favorite lunch spot is Figaro Bistrot (MAP IT, x)– I always get a Kir Royale and the quiche lorraine (it’s my favorite in the city); there’s a great newsstand just around the corner from there so I’ll grab a few interior design magazines on my way in. Also, living walking distance to Cafe Stella (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is both a blessing and a curse; I love that it’s so close and so delicious, but I let myself be too indulgent most of the time and I swear they have the best French fries in LA (they’re even better dipped in mayonnaise). L & E Oyster Bar (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is a long-time favorite because they have a great selection of oysters prepared many ways; my friends and I keep notes on our favorite oysters. The steamed crab there is unbelievable and I always get the oysters casino and a wedge salad.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee from Intellegentsia (MAP IT, x)– it’s the strongest!

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: I’m such a foodie so this is the hardest question ever! Mastro’s (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is an incredible dining experience; it’s where I go to celebrate with a martini, caviar, oysters and a perfect New York strip. Also, nothing is better than the roast chicken at Cliff’s Edge (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x); they only serve it on Monday nights and they carve it on a table in front of you– it’s like a hug for your insides.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A very dry martini. My favorite bar for cocktails is Bar Stella (x); one of the bartenders, Ericka makes truly perfect, old-school drinks. Bar Covell (MAP IT, x) is an amazing wine and beer bar with friendly and knowledgable bartenders; they ask what you like in your wine, then suggest a few for you to try. Messhall Kitchen (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) has a great cocktail menu, but I always get “The Brown Derby” (Buffalo Trace, grapefruit juice and honey) when I’m there.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: The Black Cat is always fun and they have great drinks and happy hour food; I like to meet friends there for the daily punch and the “Cat Snack” (olives, pickles and spiced nuts). Also, Malo on Sunset (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) has my favorite margaritas and chips and guacamole.

POWER LUNCH: Matsuhisa (MAP IT, x) is so delicious and I like that it’s not super trendy and dark and loud. You can actually have a conversation with someone, see them and see the food you are eating which is good when you need to talk business. Mozza Osteria (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is great for a business dinner too– the food is amazing and the atmosphere is laid-back.

MUSIC PICK: Music is everything to me; it’s where I get so much inspiration so I listen to all types of music. I’m a ’90s kid at heart so I can really get into some emo-driven stuff like Joy Division, The Cure, Depeche Mode, but I also like new stuff from Troye Sivan and Benjamin Clementine. Music is my version of therapy; if I’ve had a bad day or need to blow off some steam, I’ll play Hole, Nine Inch Nails or Ministry really loudly and have a one-man mosh pit in my living room. In terms of shows, I had the incredible experience of seeing Florence and the Machine at the Hollywood Bowl (MAP IT, x) and it was life-changing (as are most shows at that incredible venue).

BEST BRUNCH: Cecconi’s in West Hollywood (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) is worth trekking across town for because their brunch is so delicious! Whether you need comfort food for a nasty hangover, you’re craving a bowl of pasta, or you just want a light bite, they have it all and it’s all amazing!

HEALTHY STAPLE: Sugarfish (MAP IT, x) for the set “Trust Me” menu.

GUILTY PLEASURE: For a little indulgence, I treat myself to Pazzo Gelato on Sunset (MAP IT, x) for the best gelato in Los Angeles (the strawberry chip is my favorite). When I’m ready for a serious moment of indulgence, I head to Umami Burger (MAP IT, x) for the “Manly” burger followed by the “UFO,” a fried ice cream sandwich.

LA’S BEST KEPT SECRET: Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon (MAP IT, x). No trip to Palm Springs is complete without stopping at the outlets for some major sales at Prada, Theory, Barneys and Saint Laurent.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: My dog, Theo. Luckily, I have amazing people who take care of him when I have to travel. I couldn’t survive without Mike and Maya’s Pet Care (x) and Tom at Dog Day Hikes (x). Theo has so much fun with them!

REGULAR AT: If you mean that “place where everybody knows your name,” it would be Crown Cleaners on Fairfax (MAP IT, x) or the American Airlines flagship check-in lounge at LAX…

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: What’s a date? If I had the chance to go on a date, I would take him to Cliff’s Edge and sit outside under the lights; it’s built around a big tree and it’s so romantic.

DELIVERY GO-TO: I couldn’t survive without Eat24 and it’s usually for a pizza from Mozza.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: I refuse to hike Runyon Canyon because it’s impossible not to run into someone I work with and me sweating and puffing my way up that hill is not something anyone wants to see– trust me. The bolognese at Chateau Marmont (MAP IT, x) is so delicious and the people watching there is fantastic. But, my favorite is watching the ladies who lunch gossip over chopped salads at La Scala in Beverly Hills (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: Book three hours with Yolanda Mata! (Email [email protected], x); she is a yoga instructor and gives the best facials I’ve ever experienced. She’s magical.

CLOSET CHECK: I spend all of my time making other people look good so I don’t spend too much time on myself. I have a pretty simple “uniform” for work: jeans from Gap, tee shirts from James Perse, and sweaters from Theory, Michael Kors or Prada. Since I spend most of my days on my feet, I splurge on comfy sneakers from Prada and Lanvin. For special pieces like watches, bags or scarfs, I love everything at The Row (MAP IT, x); I’m a pretty lucky guy because I have several one-of-a-kind pieces that Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen have given to me over the years as they work on their men’s line. I also love Mohawk General Store (MAP IT, x) for cool gifts, wallets, candles and teas.

BEAUTY GO-TO: To refill my kit with tools and products, I go to Nigel’s and Frends (MAP IT, x). With all the big studios in Hollywood, you can find anything you can possibly think of– from prosthetic noses to set bags to curling irons and blow dryers. For products and accessories, I love Larchmont Beauty Supply (MAP IT, x); they have the most reasonable prices and the biggest selection of Mason Pearson brushes.

HAIRSTYLE OF F/W ‘16: 2016 is the year of “The Modern Shag.” After three years of the un-layered lob reigning queen, this textured cut is a breath of fresh air. Inspired by Sally Hershberger’s iconic cut of the late ’90s, the modern shag is equal parts tough and beautiful: it’s a rose gold safety pin; it’s granola punk; it’s Joan Jett with a trust fund; Dakota Johnson and Karlie Kloss (her hair in the last Versace campaign) with sexy fringe and piece-y layers… What separates this shag from incarnations of the past is its texture. You don’t need to bust out the flat iron– waves and curls are not only welcomed, but they’re encouraged.

BEAUTY SECRET WEAPON: Dry shampoo! I can’t go a day without using dry shampoo for texture. My favorites are Dove (for volume and to “refresh” hair that isn’t very clean), Elizabeth & James Nirvana Dry Shampoo (for texture, shine, and they smell amazing) and Sally Hershberger 24K Dry Shampoo (for perfect second day texture).

INSIDER TIP: Spraying hairspray on your mascara wand is the best way to tame fly aways, smooth frizz and fight baby hairs. The small size and tension they create allow you to control the most delicate areas of your hair without impacting the rest of your style. Want to make a simple pony tail look polished and red carpet ready? Use your hairspray-coated mascara wand to clean up your nape and hairline. Real beauty is in the details!

BEST HOME DÉCOR: I have a pretty eclectic interior style; it’s minimal luxury with a mixture of vintage, mid-century and modern. My friend, Estee Stanley (x) has been a big influence on my interior style because she creates amazing and cozy spaces. She taught me to put a vintage teak dining table with modern chairs from B&B Italia (MAP IT, x). MidcenturyLA (MAP IT, x) has amazing pieces and I love everything ever created by Antonio Citterio so I go to Maxalto (MAP IT, x) and B&B Italia quite often for inspiration. I’m beyond obsessed with Chairish; I have about 300 pieces on my wish list. I find great vintage pieces at Casa Victoria on Sunset (MAP IT, x). For truly special home accents and décor, it’s all about The Row–it’s the most beautifully curated mix of luxurious objects (from porcelain flatware to Paul McCobb sofas).

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Bloom and Plume (MAP IT, x) for beautiful arrangements and Shinola (MAP IT, x) for gifts like leather-bound journals (I’m obsessed with the pet accessories Bruce Weber created for them, too).

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: Christine Nell (x) does the best botox at Ava MD in Beverly Hills (MAP IT, x)– remember, the whole point is to look like you haven’t had botox! Yolanda Mata (mentioned above) does the best facials in Los Angeles; she is regularly called in to “help” famous faces before their cover shoots or premieres, but she likes to stay under the radar (now, I’ve blown her cover and I’ll probably never be able to get an appointment). For the best men’s haircuts in Los Angeles, go to Daniel Winter (x) at Grey Matter (MAP IT, BOOK ITx) or Rene Rodriguez (x) at Color Lounge (MAP IT, x).

FIT PICK: I can’t remember the last time I went to the gym– I’ve completely fallen off that wagon– but, I love to go hiking in Griffith Park (x). I love taking my dog and my headphones and we go off the main trails; it’s heaven. I can really clear my head and forget I’m even in Los Angeles when I’m up there.

ULTIMATE LA MOMENT: There are so many LA moments and they happen all the time. I first came to LA when I was Sally Hershberger’s assistant and once, we were working on photo shoot for Vanity Fair and afterwards, she took me to dinner at Dan Tana’s on Santa Monica (MAP IT, x)– it was so cool and old-school: the servers wear tuxedos and the red leather booths have been there forever– it felt so “old Hollywood glam” to me. A year later, I was back in LA working on the film, Vanilla Sky (Sally Hershberger referred me to her client, Tom Cruise), and I remember being so overwhelmed with inspiration and emotion when I drove through the Paramount Studios gate off Melrose and saw the Hollywood sign in the distance for the first time. It was such a “wow” moment. CP

Mark’s LA


From L to R: First Row: Pizza at Little Dom’s; Sushi at Sugarfish; Stationary from Maxalto; Boots from The Row. Second Row: Steak at MessHall; Cheese plate at Cliff’s Edge; A brunch sandwich at L & E Oyster Bar; Leather-bound journals from Shinola.


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