My original idea for the name of this Rule was a little less catchy: ‘extreme looks herald a fundamental trend shift’. So you can see why I went down the boufhead road instead, but that rather up-itself sentence above, is the point here.
What I’m trying to say is that when there is about to be a radical and long term change to a key element of the way we all look – and to the collective aspiration for the ideal – it takes a slightly crazy version of it to help us make the mental adjustment.
That’s why the clothes we see each season on the catwalks in Paris and Milan always look so nuts. They’re pushing taste forward into new territory and it takes extreme looks to provide the momentum for change. It can take the real world a few years to catch up, but it always does.
Remember Alexander McQueen’s bumster trousers? He first showed them in 1996 and there was universal outrage at the notion of pants cut so low, you could see the top of the buttock cleavage. Builder’s bum style.
But those outrageous pants led directly to the global fad for low-cut jeans, and then to all pants being cut to sit below the natural waist, which is still with us fifteen years later.
In fact, it’s still only the most fashionable who have embraced the high-waisted pants which were re-introduced at the designer level several years ago.
Exactly the same process is going on with hair and, when you think about it, the first person to parade the new/old massive bouffant was someone as radical in her field as Alexander McQueen was in his: Miss Amy Winehouse.
She started the process that has led directly to SJP’s wild hairdo here. It’s so big it needs its own zip code – and she got ridiculed for it. As did UK singer and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, when she wore her massive country music legend-style bouffant in LA recently.
Well, we’ll see who’s laughing in a couple of years time, when it will be absolutely normal for us all to be embracing big rollers, setting lotion, backcombing, hair pieces, and gallons of hairspray, to get our hair the way we want it. Humongous.
When it comes to hair, big is definitely going to be beautiful again.
It has to happen. After the messy high hair obsession of the 80s (different to the more sculptured 60s looks coming back in now – fear not) the default ideal went to the extreme of smooth flatness, in what I now think of as the Hair Straightener Age.
Remember when we all thought it was absolutely normal to roast our hair (and accidentally our scalp and ears…) on a daily basis to make it lie against our head like it was laminated on? Remember the Christmas when everybody wanted ceramic hair straighteners as their present?
Watch any of the mid-to-late period episodes of ‘Friends’ and you’ll see just how dated that looks now. And as fashion is all about reaction, it just has to go to the other extreme first, to find a new sense of ‘normal’ somewhere in between.
And what we are all about to rediscover, is just how flattering huge hair is. It frames the face and makes the entire body look smaller by comparison.
Now, where’s my setting lotion…?
While researching pics for this post I came across some truly marvellous big dos. I’m particularly taken with this one, below, which is the cover of a (slightly pervy) book about massive Texan-style boufhair. I want that book. And I want the hair.
These are some legendary boufs I just adore. First, Brigitte Bardot, giving Bed Hair Bouf.
Classy Bouf: hair styled by Alexandre (the greatest hairdress of all time IMHO), picture by Avedon.
Big Hair Elegante. My favourite up do of all time, in My Fair Lady.