Eponymous Hairstyle

the rachel

Bergdorf Blondes

An eponymous [uh-pon-uh-muhshairstyle is a particular style of hair that has become fashionable during a certain period of time through its association with a prominent individual. Imitation of such styles can sometimes be attributed to what became known in the 1980s as the ‘wannabe’ effect, a term used particularly with reference to young women who wished to emulate (i.e. ‘wanna be’ like) the American singer Madonna. A 2010 study of British women found that half took a copy of a celebrity’s photograph to their salons to obtain a similar hairstyle.

The quest for a particular eponymous style was caricatured in Plum Sykes’ novel ‘Bergdorf Blondes’ (2004), in which it was rumored that a glamorous New York heiress (Julie Bergdorf) had her blonde hair touched up every thirteen days (‘$450 a highlight’) by a stylist at her family’s store, Bergdorf Goodman. Thus, other ‘Thirteen Day Blondes’ who attained Julie’s precise color—likened to that of the ‘very white’ hair of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy—became known as ‘Bergdorf Blondes.’

In the early 20th century, the ‘Louise Brooks bob’ (Paramount studios’ description c.1927 of the defining ‘bob cut’ of the flapper era) was iconic to the extent of being reproduced by Cyd Charisse in the film ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952), by Melanie Griffith in ‘Something Wild’ (1986), and by Rose McGowan in ‘The Doom Generation’ (1995). Although photographs show that Brooks had in fact worn what became known as a bob from childhood, the actress Colleen Moore c.1923 was probably the first to be widely associated with it. However, there was never such a thing as a ‘Colleen’ and it was Brooks, with her unmistakable sense of ‘It,’ that turned the ‘Louise’ into a classic. Eighty years later the term was still part of fashion’s lexicon: ‘With her trademark Louise Brooks bob … Jean Muir built a career as one of Britain’s greatest designers.’

The ‘Audrey Hepburn look,’ associated since the 1950s with the Anglo-Dutch film actress, owed itself principally to the intrinsic chic of Hepburn herself (a factor identified by Academy Award winning costume designer Edith Head) and the designs of French couturier Hubert de Givenchy. However, although never strictly eponymous, Hepburn’s hairstyles – especially those in the films ‘Sabrina’ (1954) (short with a fringe, or ‘bang,’ across the forehead) and ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961) (pulled back and gently piled up around the crown) have been widely copied. Social historian Dominic Sandbrook wrote of ‘black-jersied gamines with Audrey Hepburn hairdos’ presiding over British coffee bars in the mid-1950s.

Other short ‘gamine’ cuts to have attracted imitators included Jane Fonda’s as the call-girl Bree Daniels in the film ‘Klute’ (1971), and that adopted in 2005 by the actress Keira Knightley, a longer, slightly shaggier version of Hepburn’s. Fonda’s, which was captured also in photographs following her arrest for allegedly assaulting a police officer at Cleveland airport in 1970, was sometimes – even thirty years later – referred to as the ‘Klute shag,’ but neither this nor Knightley’s style really attracted a personal eponym (and Klute was, in any case, the name of a male detective played by Donald Sutherland).

A famous example of this phenomenon was Farrah Fawcett’s hairstyle, as seen in the American television show ‘Charlie’s Angels’ in the 1970s. Another around that time was the short ‘Purdey’ cut adopted by British actress Joanna Lumley for her role of that name in the television series ‘The New Avengers,’ and the short Dorothy Hamill Wedge hairstyle.

Other recent examples of eponymous hairstyles include the ‘Bo Derek’ (plaiting hair with beads, as by the actress in the film ’10’ in 1979); the ‘Rachel’ (after the straightened shag popularized in 1994–1996 by Rachel Green, the character played by Jennifer Aniston in the American TV comedy series ‘Friends’); the Pob (Posh + Bob) named after Victoria ‘Posh’ Beckham (dubbed in 2007 the most wanted hair since the ‘Rachel’); and the ‘Dido flip,’ a ‘choppy shag’ associated with the singer Dido in the early years of the 21st century.

 In 2006, ‘The Times’ noted the transformation over several years in the hairstyle of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former Prime Minister of Ukraine. Illustrated instructions for replicating Tymosheko’s distinctive blonde braided crown were headed ‘How to do the Yuliya.’ In 2009, the most requested hairstyle for women was the ‘Textured and Tousled, or Curled and Swirled’ long, blond ”Gossip Girl’ Look’ worn by actress Blake Lively.

Among men, an early example of an eponymous hairstyle was associated with the 5th Duke of Bedford. In 1795, when the British government levied a tax on hair powder, as a form of protest Bedford abandoned the powdered and tied hairstyle commonly worn by men of that era in favor of a cropped, unpowdered style, making a bet with friends to do likewise. The new style became known as the ‘Bedford Level,’ a pun on a geographical feature of The Fens (a marshy region in eastern England) also known as the ‘Bedford Level’ and also making reference to Bedford’s radical (‘leveller’) political views. It was also known as the ‘Bedford Crop.’ Although natural, the Bedford crop was usually styled with wax to form a side parting.

The cover band The Crewcuts were the first to connect hair with pop music, but they were named after the hairstyle, rather than the reverse. Although eponymous styles are mostly associated with women, the ‘mop-top’ Beatle cut of the 1960s (after the rock group of that name) was one famous and widely copied example of such a style for men.

In the early 1970s the singer David Bowie popularized the so-called ‘Ziggy cut,’ an orange-red form of ‘mullet’ associated with the rather androgynous image that he promoted through his albums ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ (1972) and ‘Aladdin Sane’ (1973). To the extent that Bowie during this period appeared to assume the persona of ‘Ziggy Stardust,’ the Ziggy cut can be regarded, at least partially, as an eponymous style.

In the late 90’s, with the success of ‘ER,’ George Clooney popularized the Caesar style haircut worn by his character, Dr. Doug Ross. The style worked equally well for both young and older men alike, and Clooney’s distinguished salt and pepper color became very popular. More recently, David Beckham gave rise to much copying, but a ‘Beckham’ was whatever style (‘buzz-cut,’ cornrows, Fauxhawk, even an Alice band) he happened to wear at a given time. A more specific eponymous example was the so-called ‘Sawyer’ of James ‘Sawyer’ Ford, the character played by Josh Holloway in the ABC series ‘Lost,’ or the ‘Justin Bieber haircut’ worn by the pop singer from 2008 onwards.

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