Each week our no-holds-barred contributor Grace Gold picks apart a hot beauty topic. It’s our version of an op-ed—with hair, eyeliner and lipstick.
Perhaps it all began with the tale about Rapunzel and the legendary long locks she lowered from a tower to fetch a prince. For centuries, and through virtually every culture, long hair has been idealized as the epitome of femininity.
The allure was especially evident at the recent taping of this year's Victoria’s Secret fashion show, which will air December 4 on CBS. Model Karlie Kloss, who is known for her cascading waves, surprised onlookers backstage when she arrived with a blunt bob and bangs. There was a buzz of excitement over the daring change, which she made for a Vogue fashion spread, and the media took to Twitter with predictions that Kloss would show off a fresh new look on the runway that night.
They were wrong.
Stylists immediately went to work weaving extensions into Kloss’s hair, so she could take to the catwalk in what has become Victoria’s Secret look. The look is so linked to the brand, in fact, that I often find myself asking my stylist to give me "Victoria’s Secret hair"—and no further explanation is necessary!
But this got me thinking: Is Victoria’s Secret becoming too rigid in terms of what their brand of femininity represents?
After all, we’ve certainly seen that short hair can be sexy.
In the '20s, Louise Brooks introduced the bob Kloss wore and, with her flapper clothes and free-spirited demeanor, made the hairstyle a flirtatious alternative to other looks. Likewise, the tousled bob earned its popularity once history’s most seductive cultural icon, Marilyn Monroe, made it her trademark. Elizabeth Taylor only amplified its appeal, making it her own by pairing it with strong brunette brows that accented her violet eyes.
Celebrity cuts have become even shorter these days. Halle Berry’s pixie brings out her beautiful cheekbones. Michelle Williams’s crop accentuate her full lips, flawless complexion and stunning hazel eyes. And Rihanna and Victoria Beckham have injected confidence and swagger into these styles that are among the most requested and copied at salons.
Certainly, a distinct brand of femininity is what makes a Victoria’s Secret runway show so readily identifiable. But does it come at the expense of introducing other ideals of beauty that are modern, unique and, yes, sexy?