Even my granny loves my cool blue hairdo
The blue-rinse brigade is back with a bang . . .
No, I'm not having a style meltdown: this is actually quite fashionable. For whether you're a lover or a hater of bright-coloured hair, the dip-dye is having a bit of a fashion moment.
Hair's hottest but hardest-to-wear trend started quietly enough. "Recession roots" was the subtle, ombre'ed, pseudo-sun-dappled effect that found favour among glossy fashion fixtures, including actress Rachel Bilson.
Then this natural-looking, two-tone style -- darker at the roots, lighter at the ends -- mutated into something altogether more arresting. Suddenly pulsatingly dyed hair is right back on the radar.
Barbie, bubblegum, princess-pink is the colour most girls are dyeing for. Mainstream pop stars Katy Perry and Rihanna chose scarlet and fuchsia all-over dyes, while Sienna Miller and model Charlotte Free went for more ragged, dip-dyed styles.
Blue, though, is the really radical choice this autumn; the colour of conservatism, the Smurfs and boys' bedrooms. None of these factors, I'll admit, particularly inspired me to try the look for myself.
Yet when Kate Bosworth was photographed recently sporting some turquoise tips all that changed in an instant. As my ultimate style crush, I couldn't match the Chanel 2.55 tote she teamed with a botanical-print chiffon blouse, cropped white trousers and courts -- but I could certainly match her hair.
The chance to have my Bosworth done came courtesy of Bleach London's salon. At the vanguard of dip-dyes, candy colours and colourful hair stencils, colourist Alex Brownsell and her business partner, Samantha Teasdale, have a client list that includes singer Florence Welch and super-stylist Katie Shillingford.
Their outpost in Topshop's Oxford Circus flagship store is a dip-dye production line, and when I turned up at their east London HQ, the editor of one of the Britain's best-selling glossies was reclining in one of the vintage chairs next to me.
My tips were obviously in good hands. A brief idea to cop out and just have my blonde highlights redone was pushed out of my head and my mind was set once again: blue it was to be.
Walking out of the salon an hour later, I felt like a new woman. Coloured hair obviously equalled cool. My new 'do had given me instant edge.
Although I didn't feel nearly so edgy when my grandmother -- who recently turned 90 -- took in my new look. Far from being shocked (as I had rather hoped), she assured me that mine is the latest incarnation of a look that started life when she was a girl: the blue rinse.
During the 1930s, a generation of young women took to the bottle in an effort to emulate Jean Harlow's knockout platinum tresses, Then, over the years, the use of methylene morphed into hairdressing's equivalent of a facelift: applied adroitly and in perfect measure, a rinse of blue made grey hair appear much less so.
Peaking in popularity as a fashion statement just after the World War Two, the late Queen Mother became a big fan of the blue rinse.
Just as Duchess of Cambridge-watchers flock to Reiss and Issa, her affluent upper- and middle-class subjects reached for the dye to rid their greying locks of brassy yellow tones in their latter years. Although its aim was to leave a silvery glow, the rinse was often left unattended too long: when applied with too much enthusiasm a blue rinse just made grey hair look . . . blue.
Less capable salons -- and inexpert home-dyers -- churned out blue-coiffed legions of Marge Simpson prototypes.
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Continued from p41
Jean Harlow and Queen Elizabeth inspired a generation to go blue, and that generation stuck with the look as it grew older.
The blue-rinse brigade became a label for busybody-dom that was easily mocked. But, recently, the rinse has washed out: after years of dwindling sales.
Inevitably, once the mainstream had turned its back on the blue rinse, it was only a matter of time before it became edgy.
For twentysomethings like me, the rinse evokes memories of afternoons spent in granny's cosy sitting room, supping hot Ribena, and eating a freshly baked cake in front of Are You Being Served? reruns, giggling at Mollie Sugden, aka Mrs Slocombe's disastrous blue coiffure, which is why it seemed particularly poignant that I was joining the blue-rinse brigade all these years later -- albeit with a slightly different aesthetic.
And it explains why granny didn't seem shocked by my new "out there" hairstyle at all.