With the pandemic leaving hairdressers closed for most of the year, 2020 has brought many unexpected hair trends.
Buzzcuts, fringes and 90s bangs were all popular. But as we near the end of the year, perhaps the most unexpected hairstyle has returned. The much-derided mullet: made infamous by Little Richard and David Bowie, is back but with a modern twist.
“The modern mullet is only going to get bigger in 2021,” Tony Copeland, the co-founder of the British Master Barbers Alliance, told the Daily Star. “We will see more men up and down the country walking around with this style. Long hair will be big news in 2021 and hair products to give control to longer styles will explode next year.”
The modern twist on the haircut is that it is being worn by women as well as men.
This year we’ve seen the do on Miley Cyrus (who debuted her choppy, blonde version on 6 January on Instagram with the caption: “New hair, new year, new music”), Rihanna during her Savage X Fenty fashion show, Game of Thrones’s Maisie Williams, Billie Eilish, Little Mix’s Leigh Ann Pinnock, singer Troye Sivan as well as Joe Exotic from the TV show of the year, Tiger King. Exotic’s bleached mullet led to the search term “how to cut a mullet” increasing by 1124% since lockdown began, according to Cometify.
Suzi Ronson, the hairdresser who created Bowie’s crimson Ziggy Stardust cut, explained how it came about in 1972. “(Bowie) walked over to show me a photo in a magazine. It was of a model for fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto with short, red, spiky hair. He said: ‘Can you do that?’ As I said yes I was thinking: ‘That’s a little weird – it’s a woman’s hairstyle. And how am I going to actually do it?’” she wrote in The Moth: All These Wonders.
The gender neutral roots of Bowie’s cut come full circle to the modern mullet of today, with LGBTQI icons from Joan Jett to Tegan and Sara and Christine from Christine and the Queens all sporting them. “The sentiment that the mullet is particularly classless, outmoded, hideous is still the dominant one,” says Willa Paskin, host of The History of the Mullet podcast.
“Which is exactly what the subcultures who have embraced the mullet – electropunk kids, self-aware rednecks, fashionistas, queer people – like about it; the way it thumbs its nose at mainstream respectability.”