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Hairstyle Trend: New Bohemian
Artists, free-thinkers and radical romantics: being bohemian has always meant colouring outside the lines. These days it’s something of a catch-all term for anyone living life with little regard for the rule book, but the concept of living as a bohemian originated in Paris in the 1840s. Travellers from the Czech region of Bohemia settled in the city and lived in a community governed entirely by their own rules: the name stuck and the bohemian was born.
For those on the outside, this traveller lifestyle looked pretty appealing. Everyday society at the time was entirely governed by class and pressure to do what was expected of you. The prospect of breaking away from it all for a simpler life, dedicated to the pursuit of beauty, was - unsurprisingly - seriously enticing to restless young rebels, fed up of living by archaic guidelines.
Fuelled by a desire to do something different and to see the world, poets, painters, writers - and their muses - descended on Paris, New York and London’s Bloomsbury district to create, collaborate and form their own networks, where money and morals didn’t matter.
In England, the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood painted divine creatures who epitomised the bohemian aesthetic: loose gowns, flowing locks and an intellectual beauty. Although these paintings of muses like Jane Morris and Elizabeth Siddal seem tame by our standards, these artists were considered the bad boys of the art world at the time – and their models even more so. Wearing hair loose was completely at odds with what society demanded of women, who traditionally wore their hair in demure chignon hairstyles once they married. Flowing, undone hair was entirely associated with seduction and women of ill-repute – no wonder it was so scandalous. On top of their disregard for how chignon hair should be worn, bohemian women also eschewed corsets and crinolines in lieu of plain, shapeless gowns inspired by Medieval style and traditional costumes from the countries visited on their nomadic travels. Throw in piles of jewellery, clashing layered prints and scarves and you’ve got the look.
The bohemian trend has come and gone in the years since, re-emerging in numerous different guises. The one thing which has remained the same with each revival is the sense of a desire to do what’s different. To be part of the counterculture. To live free from rules and escape the norm.
In the 1920s, women bobbing their hair and smoking cigarettes in nightclubs reflected a new take on counterculture. Their slinky outfits and architectural 1920s hairstyles may have been a world away from what we think of as bohemian style, but their rejection of society’s expectations and embrace of new, strange and beautiful arts in the form of jazz and modern dance was entirely in keeping with the movement’s attitude.
In 1950s New York, the Beat Generation rejected materialism and celebrated spontaneous creativity – just like their forebearers. Romantic, wild-hearted and passionate about crafting a world of change, the Beats were essentially bohemians dressed in black. Although predominantly a male-dominated scene, writers like Lenore Kandel and Joanne Kyger made a name for themselves and put their own stamp on Beatnik style.
Fast forward to the 60s and 70s and you’ll see one of most obvious and popular revivals of the bohemian look in the hippy movement. Flowing shapes, natural inspirations and loose, unstructured waves all add up to a truly free-spirited vibe that dominated 1970s hairstyles.
Woodstock hippies are one thing, but London fashion emporium, Biba, well and truly resurrected bohemian style. In muddy, muted shades of mauve, burgundy and blue, designer Barbara Hulanicki created vintage-inspired dresses in sack-like shapes, for girls who wore their hair long and topped their outfits with turbans, scarves and stacks of bangles. Meanwhile, the original modern-bohemian style icon, Talitha Getty, made headlines in the 70s as much for her wild lifestyle as her looks – all flowing hair, printed caftans and floor-sweeping gowns.
"Simply put, being bohemian is about a romantic desire to live for the moment and do what feels right for you."
In the 00s, we saw Sienna Miller crowned as the queen of boho – a new generation’s take on the style of their predecessors. Sienna, Kate Moss and the rest of the Glastonbury glam squad stomped around with tousled locks, whimsical braided hairstyles and natural - or at least, natural-looking - beauty. In New York, the Olsen twins and Sex and the City’s Carrie character gave the look a Manhattan polish. This was bohemianism in rejection of fashion, rather than politics. From the excesses of 80s style to the minimalism of avant-garde 90s designers (both seriously bohemian-free zones), this was a total change of pace: the wealthy, worldly, curious globetrotter – paring a folksy beaded waistcoat picked up on travels to Morocco with a designer gown and an Indian head chain, for a look that was equal parts eccentric and elegant.
Somewhere around the late 2000s, we reached peak boho and the look came to its natural conclusion.But that doesn’t mean we’ve seen the back of it. Today, the romantic notion of bohemianism continues to inspire designers and image-makers. A glance at the runways of Valentino and Roberto Cavalli, the shoots of Tim Walker and Paolo Roversi, or the style of fashion muses like Florence Welch proves that the desire for escapism, adventure and beauty in all its forms is still as strong as ever.
In troubled times, the need to create change is greater than ever and there are already countless movements doing just that. As we navigate through an uncertain political climate, a desire for pure beauty and creativity will drive a new generation of bohemians to reject society’s expectations and strike out alone. Natural textures will be everywhere, as women use self-acceptance as a statement. Organic and botanical products will also be on the rise as savvy retailers start to ask more questions. The coming years will see the bohemian well and truly back on the radar, driven by body and beauty positivity as a political tool.
Simply put, being bohemian is about a romantic desire to live for the moment and do what feels right for you, rather than what society might suggest. It means sacrificing luxury for liberty, switching convention for creativity.
For this look, it’s about a natural center part and textured wavy hair through the mid-lengths and ends. It’s about loose, breezy braid hairstyles and unfussy finishes. It’s pretty, fuss-free and perfect if you’re looking for summer hair. It’s creative, it’s current and it’s cool – it’s about living in the moment, standing out and celebrating beauty. She’s the modern bohemian – she stands up for her beliefs, she’s carved her own style niche and she’s entirely dedicated to living life by her own rules.
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