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Michelle Obama's 'Fawcett flick' a nod to more fun times

Priya Elan
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/AFP/Getty Images

Michelle Obama’s powerful and glamorous hair at the Biden-Harris inauguration (courtesy of her longtime stylist Yene Damtew) was reminiscent of the Farah Fawcett style – and Jenna Coleman’s curled hair in the BBC’s The Serpent (set in 1975) replicated the waft-style too. Jennifer Lopez, Mary J Blige and model Aweng Ade-Chuol have all tried the style in recent months.

Like disco, which trended during Christmas time, the resurgence of the Farrah cut is partly to do with a rose-tinged idea of that period. “When we think of Farrah Fawcett and her hairstyle we are recalling a joyful version of the 1970s,” said the fashion historian Laura McLaws Helms. “More sun-dappled California babes, less strikes and oil crises.”

It also stands in direct contrast to our current state, locked at home due to a deadly virus. “(It) connotes both the glam disco decadence of the period as well as Farrah’s own all-American healthiness and vitality,” said McLaws Helms.

Leonard McGill’s book Disco Dressing from 1980 is quoted as saying “the reality of everyday life and the conventional rules of dressing that go with it are left at the door. Instead fantasy reigns.”

And, asks McLaws Helms, “if it’s possible to leave behind our current everyday life with a fun hairstyle, who wouldn’t want to try?”

The style is believed to have originated in feathered headpieces from the roaring 20s, when flappers wore them as a symbol of liberation. Post-Covid, social scientists believe there could be a similar bacchanalia, just as happened after the 1918 flu pandemic.

“There is a definite return to retro styles this lockdown,” said hair stylist Johanna Cree Brown (the mullet is also back). “I think we generally start looking back in these times for inspiration and comfort.

“When we return from lockdown our hair choices will be braver, more impactful, less holding back and [with] a feeling of ‘just going for it’.”

Despite a number of DIY tutorials on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram, the style is “quite time-consuming and needs some practice”, said Brown.

“Magazines in the 1970s printed diagrams for roller settings to achieve her look – a difficult task for anyone not blessed with Farrah’s thick locks,” said McLaws Helms, “a complex series of rollers and wands that take a certain amount of practice to perfect.”

Still, with time on people’s side during lockdown, it is the perfect moment to practise the look.