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Vanity Hair: Hairstyles of Celebrity Style Icons


by Victoria Cochrane

Linda Evangelista, Victoria Beckham, Madonna -- all female icons who have inspired hair trends in recent times. The 'celebrity look' is deemed a recent phenomenon, but women throughout the ages have obsessed over their hair and often took inspiration from role models of the time.

In the 16th century Queen Elizabeth I was the main female icon of her era, and set the trends for the women who adored her lily-white complexion and red tresses. To steal this look, female followers would adorn red wigs, and some even used highly poisonous white lead to achieve the pasty complexion, adding a glow to the cheek with lead based rouge!

By the 18th century, big hair was definitely the 'in' thing, with the emergence of elaborate wigs, mile-high coiffures and decorated curls. White powdered wigs with long ringlets were in high fashion; often tied back and adorned with a colourful array of feathers and bows, with the biggest and best offerings being the talk - and envy - of the society gatherings.

Later on, the Victorians took a much more subdued approach to their fashion and toned down the elaborateness, and set out to achieve a more natural beauty. Hair was more sleek, shiny and healthy and styles were altogether more elegant and demure. This trend continued until the 1920s, known as the 'Roaring 20s', when the constraints of Victorian life were thrown out. In came the short, bobbed and wavy styles, inspired by Coco Chanel and signifying the new independent, free-spirited woman. Make-up was heavy and lips were ruby red -- glamor was indeed back in town!

By the 1940s Hollywood glamor was in full swing and women began to follow their on-screen idols, with the emphasis on feminine and romantic styles. Soft curls and wavy natural looks were popular -- mainly inspired by Hollywood stars, such as Elizabeth Taylor.

By the 1950's -- glamor was even more popular as women attempted to achieve a look that implied 'domestic goddess'. Eyebrows, mascara and eyeliner became heavier, and hair began to suffer abuse and would be teased, sculpted and sprayed. Complex hairstyles were a defining moment in the 1960's, with short, back-combed hairstyles now in place with long feminine bangs, often with a whole can of hairspray required to keep it in place. Blonde was the color of the decade, achieved by soaking strands of hair in lemon juice and sitting in the sun.

Farah Fawcett and Kate Jackson summed up the long, free-falling and natural look that describes the hair in the 1970's. Soft partings and long bangs were feminine and romantic. However, nothing can beat the 1980's -- the decade that saw more freedom of choice in styles and trends. The long 'bob', precisely cut and curled under -- signified the power dresser, whereas the rebel in us would follow the likes of Madonna's choppier and ever-changing hairstyles. The rules were, well - there were no rules, and everyone copied their own idols of this decade.

The 90's saw the 'Rachel' cut from Friends, and the choppier 'Meg Ryan' look emerge. Messed-up hair was very much in but whether long or short it seemed the whole world had gone blonde -- again! Multi-toned highlights, all-over blonde even previously brunette models and film stars turned blonde. Golden tresses and pouty glossy lips were definitely in fashion.

The new Millennium slipped in with some of the trends from the 90's continuing through, but with more emphasis on poker straight styles, bangs and hair extensions. And at last, brunettes were back! Styling equipment was at its peak with curling tongs and hair straighteners showing record sales, and a flurry of new boutique-influenced hair styling products hitting the shelves.

But while the celebrities may come and go and fashions change, but it seems women will always find a style icon to imitate.

Victoria Cochrane may be contacted at - vicky.cochrane.uk@googlemail.com. Victoria Cochrane is a freelance writer for both online and print media. She lives with her husband and son, and enjoys travelling when not writing.

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