Not for the first time, the latest hair trend requires you to dig deep into your past: welcome to the rise of My Little Pony hair. Inspired by the colourful manes of the little plastic toys, rainbow hair has become the go-to hair trend for young women.
Bleach salon, which recently branched out from east London to Soho, arguably pioneered the trend for extreme hair colour which has seen pink, dip dye (where the ends are “dipped” in a contrasting colour) and even premature grey become trend fixtures.
According to Bleach founder Alex Brownsell, rainbow-coloured hair is the next logical step in hair colour.
She said: “Hair trends tend to move in 10-year cycles. Over eight years ago, we did our first dip dye but now, almost a decade later, it’s sort of everywhere. The young kids don’t want dip dyes anymore, they feel it’s too mainstream.”
The trend, she explains, stems partly from rebellion and partly from nostalgia. “We all dyed our hair when we were kids to rebel, and there’s something about the attention that you got from it which felt addictive.”
She says the rise of extreme colours references the 80s and 90s punk scene. The main difference now is that the focus is primarily on colour not cut.
“It’s inspired by punks and cyber kids but the cuts now tend to be long and feminine, that soft 1970s look. This look is far more feminine. In fact, if someone came in with a punky haircut, I’d advise them against getting multicoloured hair. It’s moved on from that.”
Like most trends, rainbow hair has trickled down from the catwalk. Bright hair appeared on the AW15 Louis Vuitton catwalk and on models such as Soo Joo Park.
Danish model Chloe Norgaard has become an alternative poster girl for rainbow-coloured hair. “I was fed up with having to fit into what my agencies were saying I had to look like,” she says. “It was an act of rebellion, I was like, screw this, I’m going blue and once I did I felt great.”
Britney Spears and Katy Perry also went rainbow this summer. Brownsell dyed the hair of model Georgia May Jagger, in part, as a last hurrah. “A lot of models get it done now so it’ll fade out in time for fashion week when she’ll have to fit what the client wants.”
Natalia McDonald, from Premier models, which represents Norgaard, says: “If a designer’s inspiration for a season is based on subcultures, tattoos and piercings could enhance that and, therefore, the casting director is more likely to use models with those attributes.”
Instagram also plays a role. There are almost 200,000 rainbowhair hashtags on social media, throwing up a variety of looks.
“Models now share all the details of their lives with their followers,” says McDonald. “So rather than it being a new trend, I would say the development of technology has moved us into this era.”
According to Brownsell, hair colour is becoming more important than haircuts: “Multicoloured hair could be seen as this generation’s ‘Rachel’ [the long layered cut popularised by Jennifer Aniston’s character in TV series Friends]. I think for people our age, 20s at least, the look is very much about not cutting your hair into ‘a cut’.”
Even men are embracing extreme colour. “Green hair is a big trend on young men – One Direction’s Zayn Malik; Jared Leto, who got it done for his role as The Joker.”
Could rainbow hair be next? “I don’t see why not, I think it’s natural progress,” says Brownsell.
Wallflowers need not be too unsettled by the trend. “It’s actually an extension of what’s happening in hair colour in general. I have multicoloured blonde hair, multicoloured balayage [a dye-application technique] is also a thing, browns and red blended together. Even L’Oreal are talking about bronde [a blend of brown and blonde]. It’s less extreme than it sounds and actually, as a trend, almost mainstream.”