the top five most iconic hairstyles in fashion
A trademark ‘do makes an editor or designer immediately recognisable even among those who may not obsess over the industry, like a dose of celebrity status. Here we pull together the five most iconic tresses in fashion, with illustrations by Naomi Otsu.
We've wondered whether you need a signature look to make it in fashion - there are plenty of heavyweights with instantly identifiable uniforms out there to back up the argument that you do. Now, let's talk hair. When you learn more about the reason for these notables' coiffure choices, it's more typically a case of function over form: these people are busy, and don't have time to fuss over their hair. They're stylish by nature, so they know what looks good. Once they find what that is for them, they get it down to a routine that fits their insane schedules and they don't change a thing. Why mess with perfection?
Anna and (Her) Bob: A Love Affair
While plenty of people in fashion have been sporting one hairdo for years, there's something about Anna Wintour's bob that makes the thought of the powerful editor without it confusing, even frightening. Would we even know her anymore? What would she possibly look like? Maybe it's simply because it's the only way we've ever known the reigning queen of fashion media - she's sported it since the age of 14 - but it fits her so flawlessly. It's no-nonsense, sleek, polished and perfect, yet still sophisticated and intrinsically ladylike. It captures her personality (what the public knows of it) and her work style. Necessary to its successful survival, the bob is kept impeccable by a daily blowout at 6:45AM - The Telegraph reports it's two blowouts a day during Fashion Week. That's commitment.
Suzy's Front Roll
The fact that renowned fashion journalist Suzy Menkes started wearing her signature front-roll coiffure out of necessity makes her, if possible, even cooler. Menkes has such a genius perspective to offer on fashion, and yet is refreshingly fuss-free about her own (effortlessly chic) look. That hint of pouf might seem like a chore to do each morning, but Menkes revealed in a 2009 i-D interview that she can do it in a snap even while walking down stairs. A stylist by the name of Pauline Beard at John Frieda in London invented the quiff for Menkes because she hated her hair falling in her eyes while she was trying to write. A look was born because of the dedicated ways of one of the hardest-working people in this industry.
Karl Lagerfeld has spoken about his physical appearance as being a sort of armor, even a costume. He's one of the industry's most recognizable stars, and the easiest trick to working the look (which many do for Halloween) lies in that white ponytail. Slightly puffed at top and slick on the sides, it makes Karl the only person who's ever been able to pull off a mullet effect with sophistication. Karl started doing the pony in 1976 to control his curls. He told men's magazine M that he also didn't love the grayness of his locks, and so the flourish of white powder was born - making him a sort of modern-day Louis XIV, which doesn't seem out of place at all.
Kate's Shocking-Blonde Bob
Starting to see the trend here? Maybe if you want to make it in fashion, you should do away with high-maintenance hair that eats up valuable time, and find yourself one ridiculously cool style that you can just roll with. Case in point: Kate Lanphear. The editor has stormed the fashion scene with some a sharp eye and undeniable talent, having been the style director at Elle before taking the same role at T: The New York Times Style Magazine and most recently becoming editor-in-chief at Maxim. Tailored for her packed schedule is her sleek and simple asymmetrical bob, a tomboy look that only highlights her incredible bone structure. Asymmetrical angles and a nearly-white shade of blonde keep the look fiercely modern, the perfect punctuation for her goth-meets-punk style routine.
Lynn Yaeger's Bowl-Shaped Flapper Locks
Lynn Yaeger is one of the industry's most revered journalists, loved as much for the refreshing humor and honesty in her writing as for her whimsical, fashion-loving look. While she experiments (effortlessly) with avant garde ensembles, her hair and makeup remain the same, like a doll that's playing dress-up every day. Yaeger has created one of the most recognizable looks in fashion with her blush-dotted cheeks, kewpie lips and bright orange, bowl-shaped bob. She wrote about her look in 2005 for The New York Times, crediting silent film star Baby Peggy and pre-war Parisian prostitutes in Brassai photos as the influences for her hair, and explaining she has it cut every six weeks by Monique Castiel in New York, the first stylist, Yaeger says, who understood when she asked to "look like the world's oldest French orphan, circa 1930." It's an obscure, creative take that's so distinctively Yaeger.
Text Courtney Iseman
Illustrations Naomi Otsu