Big hair: the celebrity styles that went global

Most hairdressers will be able to tell you stories about clients who come in clutching a glossy photo of a celebrity haircut that stands no chance of bearing any resemblance to their own limp locks.

So it will come as no consolation that the "Rachel", the1990s haircut of the Friends actress Jennifer Aniston, has been named the most influential hairstyle of all time.

The heavily layered, mid-length look became a style phenomenon after millions of viewers fell in love with it - and the actress - on the popular American comedy.

The "Rachel" beat to second place another style that found fame on television - Farrah Fawcett's "flick", featured in the 1970s series Charlie's Angels .

Hairstyles worn by Diana, Princess of Wales - from the heavy fringed short style she favoured when she first started dating the Prince of Wales to her later, shorter look - also scored well in the poll of 2,000 women, coming third. Mary Quant's sleek black bob was in fourth place while Marilyn Monroe's bleached blonde look came in fifth.

The hairdresser Paul Edmonds, who counts the actresses Emma Thompson and Julie Walters among his clients, agreed that many people were celebrity-led in their choice of style. "Most people have had a celebrity cut at some point - I know I have - but you often end up spending a lot of time and effort for very little result," he said. "People used to be very blind when requesting a certain look but now they know their own hair better.

"Someone like Jennifer Aniston has thick, wavy hair and you're not going to get that look if you have fine, limp hair. But the look is still popular, because it makes long hair look full." He said the most popular style requested today was Sharon Stone's short crop. "It's short and punky, a very good haircut, and it's very popular with ladies over 35," he said. "As for Diana's later look, that was the haircut that launched a thousand haircuts. It was very well done."

The "Rachel" cut was created for Aniston's character during the show's second series in the mid-1990s by Chris McMillian, who also styled the actress's hair for her wedding to Brad Pitt in 2000. But the "Rachel", though flattering, also became a burden for Aniston. The actress has expressed frustration at being identified with the style and was also said to have become estranged from her mother, Nancy, in 1996 after she appeared on a television show to discuss her daughter's haircut.

Other popular looks in the poll included the gamine haircut, styled by Leonard's of Mayfair, that transformed Twiggy into the "Face of '66" and Catherine Zeta Jones' black shiny tresses. The Queen, whose hairstyle has hardly changed during six decades, was number nine.

Sinead O'Connor's shaven head was also popular, just making the poll at number 18. And at number 14 was the cartoon character Marge Simpson's vertiginous blue bouffant.

A spokesperson for Morphy Richards, which commissioned the poll, said: "Marge's haircut is definitely iconic but we are not quite so sure that people would actually go for that look."

PICK OF THE FLICKS: THE TOP 20 STYLES

1 Jennifer Aniston

2 Farrah Fawcett

3 Diana, Princess of Wales

4 Mary Quant

5 Marilyn Monroe

6 Twiggy

7 Cleopatra

8 Audrey Hepburn

9 The Queen

10 Brigitte Bardot

11 Madonna

12 Joanna Lumley

13 Sharon Stone

14 Marge Simpson

15 Joan of Arc

16 Sophia Loren

17 Lulu

18 Sinead O'Connor

19 Björk

20 Catherine Zeta Jones

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