How bad hair made it big

Suddenly a whole crop of disastrous coiffures are all the rage. What's a girl to do? Ruth Picardie untangles the problem

Having a "bad hair day" used to be every girl's nightmare. Hair that had gone frizzy in the rain. Hair that went lanky on the day it was washed. A fringe that stubbornly flipped the morning after the night before. Curls that bounced uncontrollably after a disastrous experiment with a new shampoo. On days like this, all a girl could do was stay in and wash her hair - again.

These days, however, bad hair is all the rage. In February, Kylie Minogue - that busy barometer of fashion's spinning wheel - appeared at London Fashion Week sporting a crop so messy it looked as if she had done it herself with a pair of kitchen scissors. Last October, the French designer Martine Sitbon sent Kate Moss down the runway as a backcombed blonde with black roots, a look also favoured by Linda Evangelista. At Gucci, Amber Valetta sported a hairstyle far beyond the tousled, just got out of bed look: she appeared to have parted company with both comb and shampoo some months earlier. Meanwhile, Kirsten McMenamy and Nadja Auermann are currently experimenting with salt 'n' pepper hair: natural roots, bleached tips.

All this is confusing for those of us who've spent a lifetime dreading bad hair days. Is regular bad hair the same as high fashion bad hair?

Should we be celebrating our liberation from the tyranny of expensive restructuring serums and hours under the drier? And what does it all mean - is it a feminist statement, post-modernism's last stand or fashion desperately chasing its own tail?

First, the bad (hair) news: the new bad hair is not the same as the old bad hair. Last autumn's catwalk looks were not an exercise in DIY by a new generation of punkily rebellious supermodels but painstakingly created by the hairdresser to the stars, Julian D'ys. Indeed, these hairstyles are probably more high- maintenance than the long 'n' glossy look that dominated the early Nineties - personified by Cindy Crawford's call for women to "Take Action!" with "Triple Action Flex". Tricky to construct in the salon, attempting to reproduce them at home with hedge, pinking shears and a bottle of Jolene creme bleach - remember, the tangled look only works on blondes - will result in the wrong kind of bad hair. Far wiser (if more expensive) to make an appointment with Andrew Jose, a fashionable London hairdresser who has come up with a handy trio of bad hair monikers: "The New Crop" (see Kylie Minogue and the new face of Chanel, Stella Tennant); "In Between Hair" (see Kate Moss's zebra look); and the confusingly named "DIY Do" (see Amber Valetta's birds nest).

So much for the practical side of the new bad hair: what about the symbolism? It certainly represents a break from the Eighties power bob, just as Bardot's straight-out-of-bed look in And God Created Woman (1956) - a style shared by Marilyn Monroe - was a powerful rejection of the rigidly perfect grooming that film stars had to endure until the late Fifties. Roman Polanski was so obsessed with maintaining Faye Dunaway's sleek bob in Chinatown - set in late-Thirties Los Angeles - that he once spent half an hour trying to tease a single stray hair into submission. Finally, in fury, he ripped the offending hair out by its roots. Dunaway was outraged and stomped off the set, closing down production for a day.

Now it seems even the supermodels - who replaced Hollywood stars as icons of perfection - are fed up.

However, as we have seen, the new bad hair - like the Seventies "no-make- up" look, which requires acres of foundation, lipgloss and brown mascara - is an illusion. First, the look is so ugly that only supermodels can carry it off. Second, it takes forever. Why, all you have to do is cut the hair into lighter layers around the face, take the weight out, then individually tailor the final snips to suit the face shape of the wearer. No wonder the stylist Jennifer O'Shea calls it "Bespoke Hair". She claims that, "Women are walking out of here with years taken off them, and a big smile on their face." Perhaps not as big as the smiles on their hairdressers' faces.

And does the new bad hair really express rebellion? The crop may signal powerful androgyny, personified by Annie Lennox. But the blonde bird's nest? Bardot and Monroe shook off remote perfection in favour of sexual availability: I've just got out of bed, it said, but I wouldn't mind if you got me back into it. Which is fine for evenings, but won't necessarily cut it in daytime - especially as blonde always signals bimbo in the boardroom. And the new "DIY Do", along with "In Between Hair", takes the look a step further into trampy, trailer-park trash, the look of someone who has just been beaten up by her boyfriend. So much for feminism.

One shouldn't get too upset, however. The new bad hair is not so much misogynist backlash as an accompaniment to the new bad clothes. On the cover of this month's Vogue - which is celebrating "high street style" - Kate Moss is wearing a "hot pink sleeveless top" from Debenham's, price pounds 22.50. Inside, her top 10 buys include a tight polyester shirt from Miss Selfridge, a black lace short-sleeve shirt from Top Shop, and snake-print wedge heel sandals from Ravel. Ugly, ugly, ugly, even on Kate. As for her hair? Freshly blonded - carefully avoiding the roots - with a spray- in lightener. "They just go on and on working," wails poor Kate, "and now my hair looks like shite." You said it, dear, not us. I prefer the old kind of bad hair.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Geography Teacher

    £85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...

    Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    £17000 - £18000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: If you are a committed Te...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style