Feathered / Farrah Fawcett

Feathered / Farrah Fawcett

Fashion Synopsis

Would Charlie’s Angels have been as heavenly without Farrah’s famous face-framing flybacks? Those golden half-curls, half-waves were unlike anything ever seen before, and such aerodynamic grace has never been seen again.

Farrah’s feathered do was the icon of the 70’s, and her infamous swimsuit poster—plastered on bedroom walls across suburbia—not only hypnotized teenage boys, but propelled girls to emulate her style with a rash of curling iron and hairspray sales. Nothing turned on the charm like a halo of golden wings.

The 70’s flair for feathered hair was expressed in different variations, but Farrah’s wingspan was considered the most impressive. Farrah’s flip was total glamour girl style: a helmet of luscious waves perfectly curled and brushed back to seductively reveal the face behind a soft frame of hair. But unless you had a team of professional hairstylists available from morning to night, the look was almost impossible to keep longer than the time it took you to get to your first class of the school day. But that didn’t stop girls from trying.

A large, round curling brush and industrial-strength hairspray were necessities for Farrah style, both working in tandem to the windstorm of heat from your raygun blow dryer. After taming the hair into soft yet flippy curls (at the ends only—doing it close to the scalp would just give you Shirley Temple hair), a hearty application of hairspray helped to defy gravity when the curl wanted to go straight.

Woe be to girls who had stick straight hair that couldn’t hold a curl, no matter how much hairspray shellacked that initial wing. By the time you got off the bus, your hair would be as flat as your deflated self-esteem. But surrender wasn’t a part of the 70’s teen vocabulary, and a vented brush (hopefully, the kind that held hairspray in the pump handle) was ever-present in the back pocket of your Chemin de Fer jeans to whip your hair back in defiance, if even just for a second before it fell flat on your face again.

Other girls, more rocker chicks than glamazons, opted for the brushed feathered cut as seen on Joan Jett. Center- or side-parted, these wings might not be able to coast like Farrah’s, but they could soar with their own streamlined style. The hair didn't surround in curls and waves, but generally stuck straight, except for the bangs brushed back in haughty defiance. Each layer was sharp, perfect, and in line with the next.

The best way to achieve such perfection was not through styling products, but through the cut, and any girl who didn’t have to glue her wings in place via hairspray was considered a superstar. Scissors snipped the hair into gentle layers, while razors chiseled the hair into sassy submission, creating perfect layers in indistinguishable steps, but with definite style. Even more important than a pair of skintight designer jeans (or leather pants, as preferred by Suzi Quatro) was a perfectly coiffed head of feathered hair.

Boys borrowed the feathered flybacks, preferring a center part, and a shorter side (except for pretty boys like Leif Garret and Cassidy bros Shaun and David). Like the 50’s greasers who carried combs in their back pockets to smooth out their disheveled hair, the boys of the 70’s had such a fondness for their back pocket combs.

Unlike the girls, who had the help of hairspray, boys were considered uncool if they sported hairstyling products, so the guys needed constant recombing to perfect the wings. But don’t think any old comb will do: the teeth needed to be wide, and the handle perfectly shaped for a tight grip and a cool look when it stuck up from its place in the back pocket.

Stick-straight or curly, thin or thick, wiry or fine, the feathered cut was the only style to perfect during the decadent 70’s and early 80’s. Hair had not been so widely copied since dancer Irene Castle lopped off her locks into the shocking bob cut of the 20’s, nor would it be for another 15 years until Jennifer Aniston’s ‘Rachel’ cut would put the world in a fringe cut frenzy.

But beware the new millennium and the return to the 80’s…they might call it the flip, but don’t be fooled. It’s feathered, and you know it. If they bring back the feather roach clip, RUN!

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