My Hair Crush: Normal People’s Marianne

This TV series may be trending globally, but it’s the tresses of leading lady Marianne that have caught Layered Online writer Kelsey’s eye

Since bursting onto our lockdown screens, Normal People has been causing quite the stir around the globe… and for all the right reasons (you can catch it on BBC iPlayer). Released just as we were all hunkering down, the series served up some much-needed escapism from our ‘new normal’ – transporting viewers to a world of first loves, bustling Dublin streets, luxurious Italian villas and all the feels that come with navigating adulthood. Was it an emotional rollercoaster to watch? Yes. Did I cry during most episodes? Maybe. But having binge watched the series in fewer than 48 hours, I have well and truly caught Normal People fever, and not just because of Connell’s chain making many an appearance.

Though the infamous accessory caught the eye of millions of viewers and saw the birth of its own Instagram (@connellschain) with more than 180K followers, for me there has only been one star of the show – Marianne’s fringe.

While I’ve often admired the colour choices actresses and influencers make with their tresses, it is rare that I’m drawn to a specific style or cut, and especially not one I have never been brave enough to try myself. During the course of the series Marianne can be seen with three different fringes, which are intended to highlight pivotal moments during her journey from withdrawn teenager to an independent woman about to embark on her life post-university. This in itself is very relatable – how many of us have chosen a new ‘do to mark a significant turning point in our own lives? Guilty. As. Charged.

At the start of the series we’re introduced to a younger Marianne with a short, choppy, arched fringe which perfectly frames her features.  Unlike my own hair history, even as a teenager Marianne knows how to wear her hair well – styling her bangs with plaits and loose buns in an effortless way very few of us are ever able to achieve. From that very first episode it’s clear that the fringe is going to have a serious role to play within the show, but you could never be prepared for the look that came next….

After the emotional turmoil that ensued towards the end of her school life, we’re introduced to a whole new version of Marianne when we next catch glimpse of her at Trinity College. If I had to pick just one favourite fringe moment in her storyline, then it would be the style we see her OWNING once she’s blossomed into a more confident university student with a penchant for smudged-out eyeliner. Dubbed the ‘Freedom Fringe’, it’s a much heavier style that’s still slightly choppy and with a little balayage painted in at the ends of her hair. Subtle but with serious impact, this was the look that made me decide I wanted bangs… just not during lockdown!

While it is not strictly one of the three distinctive fringes, an honourable mention must also be given to the ‘holiday fringe’. Maybe it’s the stylish sundresses, the cutesy bike or just the fact she’s somewhere abroad, but Marianne in the Italian villa gives me serious style envy. From the amazing wardrobe choices to the longer, tousled fringe and loose waves, the look has all the makings of a style icon such as Jane Birkin, and I am SO here for it.

As the series progresses we see further style adaptations to give us more fringe envy. There’s big-night-out bangs, home-for-the-summer hair and not forgetting the hide-your-face fringe. Marked as the third major style switch up in the series, this look happens following Marianne’s move to Sweden during her studies abroad. Seen as a time of emotional uncertainty away from friends, this much heavier and arched fringe acts a barrier between Marianne and the outside world.

After being swept along by the ‘fringemania’, I’m still very much considering life with bangs post-lockdown when salons have reopened. I’ve pre-warned my hairdresser, who simply responded with nervous laughter, but I’m certainly not alone on the quest for beautiful bangs. Given the frenzy surrounding lockdown haircuts in recent months, it’s no surprise that ‘fringe’ is the top hit during searches for haircuts on Google, and just last month Vanity Fair published an essay called Fringe Watch. Will I still commit to the prospect of bangs once Connell’s chain is all but a distant memory? Just watch this space…