After digging up an old segment of The Dinah Shore Show, on which Martha appeared as a guest, on YouTube, Owen learned of Martha’s love — and frequent use — of wigs. It was tidbits like this, actual moments in history, that helped the hairstylist design accurate and detailed designs for the larger-than-life character.
Despite having an impressive resume of Hollywood hairstyling to her name, including work on Jennifer Lopez’s hair in Selena and Kristen Bell’s hair for The Woman in the House Across the Street from the Girl in the Window, Owen says she felt a great amount of pressure when taking on this particular job.
“The hair was going to tell the whole story… the makeup would be minimal in the style of Martha,” she explains. In order to make Roberts appear more like her character, the director gave Owen “free reign” when it came to hair design. Alongside Roberts, Owen helped choose the most iconic styles to recreate, including updo styles for more formal scenes and a classic chin-length bob for Martha’s everyday looks. “Martha Mitchell was known for her lavish hairstyles. And I replicated them to fit Roberts’s facial features,” Owen explains.
Working closely with the costume designer, Owen paired hairstyles Martha actually wore in the early ’70s with each of Roberts’s outfits to maintain the historical accuracy of the show. All in all, Owen crafted four wigs and had them pre-set using an “old-school technique” called a wet set. Owen explains this technique was common for women of that era and that they normally went to the hair salon for a weekly wet set, which involves styling the hair with rollers immediately after washing it (it’s the same technique used on the set of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel).