The cream of the crop: the celebs who make short hair work
Scarlett Johansson has chopped off her luscious locks, but it takes more than a pretty face to pull this drastic look off, writes Deirdre Reynolds
With her bodacious curves, pillowy lips and cascading blonde curls, she's known as the modern-day Marilyn Monroe.
And last week Scarlett Johansson lived up to her bombshell reputation -- by dropping one with a drastic new look.
Presenting a gong at the Mango Fashion Awards in Barcelona, the 25-year-old actress appeared to have fallen victim to Rick Moranis' electro-magnetic shrink ray from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.
First, a gruelling training regime for the role of the Black Widow in Iron Man 2 took its toll on her delicious curves. Now the sex kitten's signature Rapunzel tresses have disappeared too.
In the follicular answer to size zero, Mrs Ryan Reynolds was snapped sporting a sleek, jaw-skimming bob -- presumably leaving a pivotal part of her va-va-voom to be swept up by a hairdresser somewhere.
Hollywood's hairess apparent succeeds crop stars Carey Mulligan, Keira Knightley and Emma Watson in getting the chop.
Quite what Woody Allen would make of his "criminally sexy" muse's boyish new look is anyone's guess -- but the fashion pack is divided.
While some catty commentators dubbed Scarlett's shorter style a definite 'hair don't', Ireland's front-row regulars have applauded the daring 'do'.
"I love it," enthuses Michael Doyle, creative director of Peter Mark. "It's a refreshing change from groomed LA bouffant she had before.
"It's much edgier, but not too severe either -- it's a nice middle-ground between the Mia Farrow crop and flowing hair extensions."
Already the hairdresser to the stars is sharpening his scissors in anticipation of a wave of copycat cuts: "I think it will be a big look with girls here for winter. Women are much more aware of hairdressing trends now and often bring in a picture of the celeb they want to look like. So I expect to see lots of pictures of Scarlett in coming weeks!"
"Scarlett's new hairstyle has transformed her from siren to sophisticated," adds Lorna Weightman of Styleisle.ie. "After she wore that figure-hugging red Roland Mouret dress and shoulder-length curls to the Golden Globes in 2006, she really started coming into her own as a style icon. But as you get older, your hair needs to evolve with you -- and this cut is just the latest stage in Scarlett's style evolution."
In a recent Clairol Nice 'n Easy head count of the greatest blondes of all time, Johansson received an honourable mention behind ultimate platinum icon Mariln Monroe.
Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but according to another poll they also prefer long-haired lovelies to their ear-exposing sisters.
So what could possess a girl with the magnetism to stop pacemakers to take a scissors to her sex appeal -- and why do we care so much anyway?
Xposé presenter Aisling O'Loughlin knows the long and the short of it.
The Banner County babe (31) hit headlines after hacking off her long, blonde locks last year just like ScarJo.
"I've always had a fascination with short hair on women," tells Aisling, "from Lauri Peters in Summer Holiday to Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and supermodel Helena Christensen.
'But I was too chicken to cut my hair until I turned 30 -- then I just hacked the lot off!
"I was sitting in my apartment trimming my fringe and before I knew it I had chopped it all off. It was thrilling."
"The reaction was quite hilarious, really," recalls cream of the crop Aisling. "Some people were horrified, angry or even abusive. I don't see what the big deal is -- hair is just hair."
"The whole point was to go against the overly 'done' look of fake hair, lashes, tan and nails. Chopping your hair down to nothing is the ultimate way of going back to basics -- you're really exposing yourself.
"It's raw and I love that," she adds. "I've no plans to grow it long again."
When hair honcho Vidal Sassoon lopped off Mia Farrow's mane on the set of Rosemary's Baby in 1968, a hair-grazing revolution was born. Since then, everyone from Madonna to Kate Moss has embraced their roots with scalp-hugging hairstyles.
From Twiggy to Agyness Deyn, cutting your hair is up there with bra-burning when it comes to women's lib.
For others like Halle Berry, Carey Mulligan and Audrey Tautou however, shedding their long, lustrous locks has had the opposite effect -- taking them from bland to in-demand.
Whether for feminism or fashion, short hair isn't for the faint-hearted, reckons Lorna Weightman of Styleisle.ie.
"Cutting your hair has a huge emotional impact," she says. "Take the routine make-over episode of America's Next Top Model -- as soon as a scissors is mentioned, on come the tears!
"If you're going to chop off your locks, leave your heart at the hairdresser door."
So just why are we so emotionally attached to a few filaments that will eventually grow back?
"Some cultures believe you hold your luck in your hair and cutting it off can change your fortune," explains freelance hair stylist Lorraine Browne. "Normally, my clients request the big chop after a life change such as the end of a relationship, becoming a mother or new job."
Harry Potter star Emma Watson laid Hair-mione Granger to rest by ridding herself of the bushy 'do associated with the character upon completion of the franchise earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Barbadian beauty Rihanna -- who seems to get hotter as her hair gets shorter -- emerged stronger from a domestic-abuse scandal with an attitudinal buzz cut last year.
And when Kylie reappeared on the pop scene with a pixie crop in 2006, it was much more than a fashion statement -- the regrowth symbolised her victory over breast cancer.
For those of us who war with a tangled mess each morning, taking it all off for winter is tempting.
But for every Halle Berry, there's a Gwyneth Paltrow or Mena Suvari, warns celebrity hair stylist Lorraine Browne.
"Really short hair only works if you have strong features, a great jaw, long neck and good figure," she says. "But when it suits someone, it can be really sexy. Think of Halle Berry -- with long hair she's beautiful, but with short hair she looks even more amazing.
"For a women's haircut, it's important to keep it soft and curved around the face as sharp cuts can look masculine."
Unlike blokes who get away with a slick of gel, short hair on women can be deceivingly high-maintenance.
"Ask yourself if you're prepared to wash and style your hair every day," cautions Lorraine, "as when you first wake up, it'll either be flat as a pancake or electric-shock spikes. Do you have the time and money for a haircut every five weeks to keep it in shape?"
"I always say to clients: 'Unless you're ready to pick up the scissors and cut it yourself, don't do it'," agrees Michael Doyle of Peter Mark. "Short hair might look great on Posh Spice on the red carpet, but it's not going to look so great when you get caught in a shower on your way to work and it's stuck to your head.
"It only takes a few seconds to cut your hair off," he adds, "but it takes a lot longer to grow it back if you don't like it."