It's being dubbed the "Rooney Mara fringe" and it swept across models' foreheads throughout the autumn/winter fashion show season. Razor cut, blunt and positioned high above the brows, it is the ultimate statement "do" that is soon to spawn thousands of imitators.
The conception of hair stylist Danilo Dixon for Mara's character Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, the severe "baby fringe" was created with the logic that Salander would need to keep her hair out of her eyes during all-night hacking sessions. However, since filming finished Mara has kept the character's trademark look and in turn undergone a total style transformation. From her plainly pretty days in The Social Network, she has become style icon of the moment and is now being likened to a modern day Audrey Hepburn. Heralded on the red carpet for her edgy glamour, Mara has also since scored cover stories with W, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Dazed & Confused, Allure and GQ.
The baby fringe (which ends just before the middle of the forehead and is not to be confused with the longer Bettie Page curled fringe) has by now been seen on the Calvin Klein, Marni and Versace catwalks (Mara sat frontrow at the former). The high fringe and long straightened hair look that Guido Palau created at Versace, looked especially bewitching,particularly when teamed with the collection's dark and gothic pieces (another major trend for the new season).
"The inspiration is strong, sexy, powerful and determined – a woman who knows what she wants. I cut the fringes short and blunt, to make the girls look strong and to portray a confidence, different to the other girls in the street. They ooze cool," explains Palau of the hairstyles he created for Versace (he was also responsible for the hair at Marni). And while he insists Mara was not a reference, he approves of her new and unique look, "It's the first time in quite a while that we've seen an actress on the red carpet with such an extreme cut and looking quite beautiful." He explained to Vogue Daily, "Next to Rooney, it can feel a bit like everyone else is just playing it safe."
Another baby fringe style icon that has recently appeared from nowhere is Montreal electro-pop musician Grimes, aka Claire Boucher. Admired for her unique sound and spine-tingling vocals, Grimes has also attracted attention with her eclectic, grunge style and distinct high, blunt fringe which varies in colour from natural (on the front cover of this month's issue of Dazed & Confused shot by Hedi Slimane) to pink (in the new video for "Oblivion", from her latest album Visions). Appearing both tough and fragile at the same time, there is something very compelling and fresh about 23-year-old Grimes, who described herself as "post-internet" in an interview last year.
Hair stylist for Grimes' Dazed & Confused cover shoot, Tomo Jidai, describes the allure of her hairstyle: "When I first saw her I immediately loved that balance between her strong fringe and eyebrow with her innocent face and eyes. This season it's also all about graphic hair with a sharp centre-parting and the baby fringe achieves this look in both an interesting and modern way."
Acknowledging the increasing presence of the short fringe, Jidai explains its rise in popularity: "I think people are maybe getting bored of being conservative all the time and this look is a bit more challenging and exciting. It's also got a unisex look about it, a contemporary version of androgyny – something which is a key trend coming through from Rooney Mara in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo."
There is no denying that the baby fringe is having its moment – elsewhere Mariacarla Boscono sports rounded baby bangs in Yves Saint Laurent's spring/summer 2012 campaign and Zoe Kravitz has been rocking a super-short fringe at recent events and awards. However, the all-important question is: for us mere mortals, whose lives are not spent in front of a camera or global audience and whose jobs are not dependant on whether we aesthetically stand out among other A-listers, should anyone really attempt to pull a super-short fringe off?
"The baby fringe can be both grunge or high fashion depending on how you style it," explains Jidai. "However, if you have a round face a very short fringe is best avoided as it will only make your face look more rounded. This look works best on egg-shaped faces and it is also very important to get that right balance between fringe and hair length. A nice eyebrow is also key. Don't be scared and wear it with confidence."
"You'll have to be ready to get more attention," Palau, for his part, says. "When you carry such a specific look, a stronger look, all eyes are on you."
Admittedly, a short fringe is a commitment and the growing-out stages are destined to include that awful Nick Carter in the 1990s curtain look. There are also important factors to consider: face shape, eyebrow, hair length – which all have to be right. The results may be worth it though. Says Palau, of Mara: "I really like Rooney's new style, she looks much more interesting now. A hair cut/hairstyle can totally change your persona, and I love that."
For those of us not brave enough to commit to the baby fringe, meanwhile, there is always the alternative of a winge – that's a wig-fringe, a temporary clip-in fringe available from Hersheson's blow-dry bars at Topshop, priced £30. Also worn by Katie Holmes, Penelope Cruz and countless models on the catwalk, the winge is as easy to take off as any key garment of the season. And, in case the fashion for a "Rooney Mara fringe" doesn't last longer than the forthcoming autumn, there's no need to lose a good 12 inches of hair for the sake of a trend.
Lucia Davis is junior editor of Another MagazineReuse content