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Why is this controversial haircut on the rise?

Why is this controversial haircut on the rise?

(CNN) — At first glance, the cinematic parallels between centuries-old French nobility and tough Texan fighters may seem few and far between.

But in addition to sporting flashy fashions and strategic combat acumen, the Von Erich brothers in 1980s-set The Iron Claw and Napoleon Bonaparte's revolutionary counterpart Paul Barras in Ridley Scott's Napoleon share stylistic similarities. : They are styled in cool variations of what we now colloquially call a “mullet.”

“The same hair worn by these 'gladiators' from the 1980s is identical to a portrait from 1802,” he says. Jessica GlascockFashion historian and author of “Wigs: Fake hair made history'.

Paul Barras (played by Tahar Rahim) sports a luxurious curly mullet

Paul Barras (played by Tahar Rahim) sports a luxurious curly mullet in “Napoleon.” (Credit: Aidan Monaghan/Courtesy of Apple)

Long known for its “business in the front, party in the back” reputation, the mullet is actually one of the most timeless and versatile hairstyles. She's having a big moment on the big screen, thanks not only to the aforementioned biopics, but also to Paul Mescal's character in the Golden Globe-nominated “All of Us Strangers” (and then there's the shaggy mullet played by Kristen Stewart in the upcoming thriller “Love.”) “Bleeding Lying”).

In The Iron Claw, it wasn't the signature mullet worn by legendary wrestling star Von Erichs – the charismatic David (Harris Dickinson) with fringed blonde waves, the Olympian Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) tousled curls and the choppy practical capes of Kevin (Zac Efron) ) – It wasn't. Just a fashion statement in the ring.

“They also work on the family farm,” he explained to CNN. Natalie Shea Rose, the film's designer who grew up in the Lone Star State is surrounded by the controversial hairstyle. The Von Erichs' hairstyles brush stray strands away from sweaty faces and protect the back of their necks from the sun. “It expresses the necessary practicality of the brothers' daily lives in rural Texas, as well as their personalities and ambitions,” Rose adds.

Long hair, it doesn't matter

According to Glasscock, the “modern” mullet has its origins in Ziggy Stardust, the David Bowie character who defined the genre and challenged gender norms. This countercultural sensibility also stems from the punk movement of the 1970s, pioneered by British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and her music manager partner Malcolm McLaren.

David Bowie performs on stage in London during his Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane tour in 1973. The semiotics of punk and glam often suggest the style and spirit of

David Bowie performs on stage in London during his Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane tour in 1973. The semiotics of punk and glam often referenced the style and spirit of “native rebels,” including Celtic and Native American warriors. In the 19th century, Nez Perce Chief Joseph resisted pressure from white Christian missionaries to cut his traditional long, side-braided, spiky hairstyle, which had great cultural significance. (Image source: Michael Butland/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

More generally, a mullet (a term usually attributed to the 1994 Beastie Boys song, “Mullet head“) dates back to a much earlier time, perhaps to the 8th century BC, when similar patterns were documented among a tribe Abantis From “The Iliad” by Homer and the Bedouins The Hun. In the latter group, their upper tresses were easily hidden under a protective helmet, while their long warrior braids flowed behind them as they terrorized and plundered their way across the Roman Empire. Greek scholar Procopius described The Hun's hair was “cut from the front to the temples, leaving the back hanging foolishly at great length.” In other words, troubling to the larger society, even in ancient times.

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Glasscock told CNN that Bowie and his hairstylist, Susie Ronson, were “trying to move away from the traditional rock look: the long-haired, hippie-teen look” of the late 1960s. It was inspired by a series of references, e.g Photo of a red-haired model From the show Kansai Yamamoto. “Bowie, in particular, had a wonderful visual culture,” Glascock added. He “took a DIY version” of the mullet, adding “scrunchy French hair from the 17th and 18th centuries.”

The designer of Napoleon's hairstyle explained that “the mullet was a model for the French revolutionary man who did not walk around.” Francesco Bigoretti, in reference to a term (literally “trouserless”) that was used in France to describe the lower classes. Pegoretti drew inspiration from a mix of sources — from historical photographs to contemporary fashion — to envision Paras, a politician known for his sexual dalliances and extravagance (if not corruption), and then styled actor Tahar Rahim's dark curls into a luxurious, defined mullet. “Very elegant.”

In early 18th century France, the mullet became a revolutionary statement by rejecting the elite standards of powdered wigs. “Wigs were elegant and expensive,” Glascock explains.

French radicals also drew inspiration from their American counterparts. “The members Continental Congress “They were wearing what we call the 1992 metallic mullet,” Glasscock explains.

In 1778, while campaigning to finance the newly founded United States, Ambassador Benjamin Franklin show up She proudly displays her tousled hair and shoulder-length waves – what is known today as a “skull” – to reinforce her message in favor of freedom and against monarchy.

“Natural hair is democratic, romantic, and connected to the earth, while wigs are aristocratic,” Glascock says, adding, “The French loved Benjamin Franklin.”

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Bad hair days

But the subversive, avant-garde glamor of the Stardust-influenced mullet — which gave rise to new hairstyles (Rotation Rotation, Sorry Bono) and hair metal (Mötley Crüe, Poison) – took a turn in the 1980s and 1990s, as “shocking, eccentric and avant-garde” hairstyles became “rebellious clichés,” Glasscock explains. He explained that sports figures and fans promoted the mullet, referring to the New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath For her hair. (Hockey hair, meanwhile, was a popular synonym for “mullet” at the time, due to its popularity among players and fans.)

Entering the 21st century, the mullet has been phased out by the creative classes. Instead, it has evolved, on screen and in culture more generally, toward an exaggerated style that “conveys these reactionary, hyper-masculine values,” Glascock says. Glasscock pointed to stereotypes of film and television characters such as the ex-military man played by Nicolas Cage in “Con Air” and David Spade in “Joe Dirt,” as well as the protagonist in “Rambo,” and the characters in “Natural Born Killers.” “. Many characters from the Netflix series “Stranger Things”, to name a few.

But despite “The Iron Claw”'s historical accuracy, Von Erich's mullet actually helps subvert this trope. At its heart, this long-haired, short-shorts film is a tragic family story and a cautionary tale about pervasive toxic masculinity.

“All of Us Strangers” uses the mullet’s place in the history of poetry as a narrative device. (Photo credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures)

In All of Us Strangers, the enigmatic Harry (Paul Mescal) — with a touch of mullet, soft strands peeking out from beneath his lush curls — displays vulnerability from the start. Realizing his loneliness, he knocks on the door of his neighbor, screenwriter Adam (Andrew Scott), frustrated with his creativity, but is rejected.

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When the two connect, cutting off old Harry fuels the film's narrative ambiguity. In the story, Adam apparently meets the ghosts of his parents, who died in the 1980s, to answer the lingering questions that still torment him in the present. The film's hair and makeup designer asks: “Is Harry part of the history of the 1980s or the present?” Zoe Claire Brownwho cuts Mescal's “very neutral, shaggy” hairstyle every two weeks.

Even before filming All of Us Strangers, Mescal was a budding talent.Little mullet“, as the press christened him. And in the weeks after production wrapped, Mescal once again broke the Internet by wearing a jacket The mullet is more determined — and an '80s mustache — at the 2023 Met Gala. “On the last day of filming,[Mescal]said to us, 'Okay, can you cut it into a mullet?'” recalls Brown, who avoided “plain talk.” “Look. “To maintain the vision that the director had for the film.

(He wasn't allowed to do so at the time, so Mescal visited his hairdresser for the event.)


In “The Iron Claw”, Jeremy Allen White remained struggling with a mullet on and off the set. (Credit: Devin Yalkin/Courtesy A24)

While playing Kerry Von Erich in The Iron Claw, White also donned her sweeping dynamism, but not by choice. Using a keratin bonding technique, Rose hand-blends three colors of hair extensions, which last six to eight weeks, with the “Bear Bear” star's real curls. “I know it was harder for (White) because she was the only person who had to go home with her look,” Rose recalls with a laugh. “I told him, 'I'm sorry, here's a ponytail holder.'

But that dedication may have played an integral role in the mullet hair revival starting in 2024. And according to Rose, White's thick tresses have become one of the most requested in salons across America. “My friend texted me: 'I got three mullet today, which is a really interesting story,'” he adds.

So, the on-screen images of the hairstyle also portend a bright future for this time-honored and groundbreaking haircut, according to Brown, who predicts a growing interest in decorative mullets for all genders.

Glasscock agreed, saying: “There will always be people who want a rebellious style and can draw on these tools, this visual language, as Bowie did.”