I’ve never seen a single movie starring Brigitte Bardot, but I’ve spent the last three years trying to mould my hair into hers.
BB isn’t just blonde, or even a blonde – she is the ultimate blonde. Her hair colour is inseparable from the very essence of Bardot-ness, recognisable as one of the icons of the 1960s. It’s not a wholesome blonde with natural highlights and a warm, honey tone; it is an icy tone worshipped by Hitchcock, verging on white and unapologetically straight out of a bottle. There’s often just the hint of a root peeking through, because when you’re the epitome of French sexiness, there are probably better things to do than sit in a salon seeking absolute perfection.
Then there’s the eye-grazing fringe, which curves around her cheekbones, falling in pieces. How many people have screenshot a #TBT Instagram post, thrown themselves at the mercy of their hairdresser and begged them to give them bangs even a fraction as beautiful?
Sometimes her hair is worn half-up/half-down, and punctuated with a bow, adding a schoolgirlish charm. Other times it’s piled onto her head, in the kind of beehive that’s impossible to recreate yourself. Occasionally it’s pulled into bunches – I wish I could do the same without looking like I’d got lost on the way to pre-school.
And then there’s everything that goes along the hair – Breton tops, impossibly chic monochrome lines; heavy, winged eyeliner, smudged as if it was applied yesterday; nude lips parted just enough to show a peek of ivory teeth. The whole look says ‘cold, white wine sipped on a yacht just off the coast of St. Tropez, an affair with an older, distinguished gentleman, and skinny, smouldering Vogue cigarettes’.
This is not “cool” hair – not like pierced braids, rainbow pastels or an edgy undercut. If anything it’s slightly old-fashioned, with its backcombed texture hardened with hairspray. But it has a certain endurance and has been countlessly reinvented and referenced. Look at the current slew of celebrities hitting the bleach bottle for a peroxide shade, most recently including Cara Delevingne. And how about the most recent Chanel show, which was the perfect homage to 1960s sky high hair, styled by Sam McKnight. You can see the influence in supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Georgia May Jagger, Anna Ewers… Bardot’s blonde crown has enchanted us for over fifty years – long may it reign on.2