The 10 Most Iconic Hairstyles of All Time
Hair is more meaningful than it’s sometimes given credit for. As much a reflection of how we feel as it is a source of transformation, it’s little wonder we’re so keen on keeping up with the latest hair trends. From the street-style set to catwalks to salons around the world, we’re always on the hunt for new ideas.
Which brings us to the hairstyles that have endured for generations: those that are so iconic they transcend trends and continue to inspire professionals and amateurs alike. We asked some of the world’s top hairstylists and colorists to nominate their all-time favorites, listed here.
The woman who has inspired countless effortless fashion and beauty looks, Jane Birkin is the OG French girl. “She has a timeless vibe with a cool-girl fringe,” says George Northwood. “I think Alexa Chung is the modern-day Jane Birkin.”
“Grace Jones was the epitome of a cool, strong woman with her ’80s flat top,” Nicola Clarke says of a signature hairstyle that is as statement-making now as it was back then. Charlotte Mensah also credits the style as her personal favorite among Jones’s many pioneering looks. “This look goes down in history as one of the best—to me, it was Jones owning the masculine energy that we all have, but in the most graceful, feminine way,” she says. “The shortness of the hair allowed her stunning bone structure to shine through.”
Someone who wasn’t afraid to experiment with her style way back when—and, of course, pull off every look with aplomb—was Linda Evangelista. “Linda Evangelista was—and still is—queen of the crop,” says Luke Hersheson, while Clarke calls her a “chroma-chameleon” because she changed her hair color at the drop of a hat. (Who could forget that scarlet pixie cut?) “She was a spokesmodel for Clairol and clocked 17 different shade swaps between 1991 and 1996 alone,” Clarke adds.
“It’s been 100 years since the first blunt bob cut was created by Monsieur Antoine, and Louise Brooks’s graphic cut is one of the most notable from that time—the style was once considered daring and dangerous!” says Alex Brownsell. A flapper girl and Jazz Age icon, Brooks’s hair was avant-garde for the time and continues to be a directional—though now much-imitated—cut.
Queen of the undone beehive and in possession of enviable root volume, Brigitte Bardot’s heyday hair is still referenced regularly in 2023. “It’s so versatile. From all up to half-up and half-down, her beehive created a natural facelift while still keeping the hair looking soft, sexy, and sophisticated,” says Syd Hayes. For Northwood, the magic laid in Bardot’s “effortlessly chic” grown-out fringe.
Not only is she one of the most revered screen sirens of all time, but Marilyn Monroe’s hair is instantly recognizable – and isn’t that what truly defines an iconic hairstyle? “It’s a short, layered haircut that was created with an old roller set. It meant curls and flicks moved so beautifully,” says Larry King. “Similar is Jackie Kennedy’s style, but on darker hair.” The ultimate blonde, her peroxide waves framed that unforgettable face perfectly.
“There is something so special that happens when someone embodies their natural, God-given hair,” says Mensah about American activist Angela Davis’s Afro. “Of course, it would be impossible to have a conversation about Afros without talking about Davis. Her glorious, untamed, natural ’fro was incredible.” Alex Brownsell also credits her hair as the inspiration for so many celebrity and runway looks today, influencing everyone from Solange Knowles to brands like Gucci, Celine, and Marc Jacobs.
Tight curls are trending right now, and what better poster girl than Julia Roberts in the ’90s? “Those curls in Pretty Woman!” exclaims Larry King. “Back then, it was all about the perm and enhancing your natural curls, and hair like this is still so good today. Whitney Houston is also a great example, with her coily hair piled up into a high ponytail.”
“Cornrows have served so much purpose over the centuries, beyond just being fashionable and protecting the hair,” says Mensah. “The ’70s brought a new wave of celebration for textured hair. It was during this era that actress Cicely Tyson wore cornrows on a magazine cover. She was the first Black woman to do so.”
We owe a lot of our current obsession with curtain bangs and feathery texture to Farrah Fawcett, whose “wings” (that voluminous fringe) were a ’70s favorite. “Her feathered hair had texture, volume, and movement,” says Frédéric Fekkai. “Disco queens and It-girls in the 1970s sported this long haircut, with a side-swept fringe and choppy layers. It’s still a popular haircut in salons today because it’s effortless and an easy style to add thickness and shine to hair.”
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Article writen by Hannah Coates for Vogue