At a certain point I realized that nearly all my beauty icons over the years had one thing in common: bangs. There are the rockers: Marianne Faithfull and Debbie Harry, Françoise Hardy and Kim Gordon. And the women who loved rockers: Anita Pallenberg, Pattie Boyd and Pamela Des Barres. The Frenchies: from Brigitte Bardot to Caroline de Maigret to Jane Birkin and her banged offspring (Lou Doillon and Charlotte Gainsbourg). And the ones who emanated from my formative years, the ’90s: Janeane Garofalo in Reality Bites, Drew Barrymore during her daisies-in-hair period, Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction, and, of course, Shannen Doherty as Brenda Walsh.
On the fall runways, fringe cropped up again and again (hairstylist Guido was responsible for much of the collective snipping; at Bottega Veneta, he chopped bangs on four willing models). They were wispy and unkempt at Isabel Marant; short and architectural at Céline; and sharp and straight on models at Saint Laurent.
The appeal of bangs is simple. At their best, they lend an air of mystery, add a whiff of sex appeal and highlight the face. “It’s like having a beautiful piece of art framed properly,” says Michelle Snyder, who is responsible for Zooey Deschanel’s oft-name-checked, brow-grazing bangs. They can also have a youthful effect, points out George Northwood, who tends to the fringes of Alexa Chung and Suki Waterhouse. It’s true, in the 10 years I’ve had them, my bangs have cloaked wrinkles, zits—even unruly brows.
To tend to them, a more-is-less approach is ideal. “For smoother bangs, just blow-dry back and forth with a Mason Pearson [brush] or comb,” says Snyder. “While more gnawed-at, DIY bangs look better with texture, so leave them undone or just use a little salt spray.” Northwood says avoid product overload, steer clear of irons and keep a can of dry shampoo handy.
For me, I can’t imagine myself without my signature fringe. The hairstyle of choice for a generation of cool girls, they somehow manage to make this writer feel just a little bit cooler herself.
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