Donna Kim-Brand

What’s the big deal with big, bouffant hairdos?  Why all the allure when, underneath the tower of volume and smooth veneer, we know often lies hidden a veritable rats nest of teased strands that surely lead to more split ends?

Let’s consider…short gamine do’s a la early Audrey Hepburn make us think ‘cute’ and short angular styles like Rihanna’s make us want to fist-pump ‘power!’ Then there’s long, hanging loose hair like Jennifer Aniston that cries out ‘hometown girl’,  or ironed out long and sleek looks like Christina Aguilara’s of The Voice that reeks of ‘don’t mess with me!’.  Or consider the bed-head look, long or short that, depending on the makeup and clothing of the day gives off the aroma of ‘innocent romantic’ or ‘tramp’. J Lo has these looks down.

But throughout history, from the days of Cleopatra, through Jackie Kennedy and Diana Ross, onto songstress Adele and now Jennifer Lawrence in the hit movie “American Hustle”, Big Hair, both soft and structured, brings with it a whiff of royalty, or diffident elegance, or ‘society lady’, real or presumed. ‘Go ahead and curtsy, I’m to be respected or at least reckoned with.’

Why so? Is it the high cost of maintaining such a look that has eyeballs rolling dollar signs and thus aristocracy? Is it the photographic or cinemagraphic  history of photos of women of power or prestige in their up-do’s? Or perhaps it’s the tinge of danger in a taunting sexual sizzle waiting to be unleashed?
Remember bold, brash pop artist Andy Warhol, who had the audacity to silk screen famous peoples’ images before likeness trademarks ruled the day? One of his favorite muses was ‘Baby Jane’ Holzer, who sported such a beehive do it was referred to as ‘topiary hair’. She inspired a character in a Tom Wolfe story “The Girl of the Year’, described as …“gorgeous in the most outrageous way. Her hair rises up from her head in a huge hairy corona, a huge tan mane around a narrow face and two eyes opened- swock!- like umbrellas, with all that hair flowing down over a coat made of … zebra!” Talk about making an impression!

It seems to me that Big Hair combines an ironic structured freedom, best exemplified as we moved from the highly tight and tame hair styles of the 1950’s to the 1960’s with a return to powerful, more freely expressed femininity. And a dejavu return to flaming manes currently, to look at red carpet celebrity styles, coupled with an individualized chutzpah to go with it. The cool thing today is that you can acquire the Big Hair look on demand, either with natural tresses or amazing wigs or hairpieces or hair systems now available.
Big Hair is both classic and classy, when you pull it off. For me, anyways, my attempts at Big Hair just look like I have helmet hair or a blow-dry gone awry! Oh well, no big deal…

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