From Lebanon to Brazil, 5 Women Who Are Bringing Va-Va-Voom ’80s Hair Back
Article by Vogue
There are curls, and then there are ’80s curls. From Cher trading in her pin-straight, thigh-grazing bohemian lengths for buoyant, brushed-out coils to Janet Jackson bursting onto the scene with ringlets piled into a high-slung, half-up style, embracing (or faking!) spiraled texture—and then backcombing it toward the ceiling and setting it with clouds of hairspray—was a way of life during the more-is-more decade.
What else but the permed look could keep up with hyper-pronounced shoulders, ruffled frocks, and faces awash in Rainbow Brite pigments? But the golden age of voluminous kink was eventually overthrown by the rise of ‘90s minimalism with flat-ironed lengths saturated in John Frieda’s cult Frizz Ease serum reigning supreme through the early aughts. Now, with pop culture’s long-overdue embrace of diverse textures, and the rise of opulent ‘80s signatures resurfacing on the runways and city streets alike, the pendulum is swinging back toward unbridled, super-size curls.
Photographer: Emma Sukalic
Norwegian bassist and vocalist Maya Vik may have grown up in the ’80s with a slew of curly-haired pop idols including Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Prince (“I knew Prince lyrics before I could speak English!” she says), but it wasn’t until her early 20s that she began owning her mop of pale blonde ringlets. “It became a trademark for me,” explains the 37-year-old electro-funk musician, who got her start playing bass with all-female rock band Furia and progressive pop group Montée before striking out as a solo artist in 2011. “I was the big-haired curly girl on the bass.” And much like the telltale texture of the polarizing decade is encoded into her DNA, so is a flair for vivid colors and larger-than-life clothes. “I hate wearing outfits that don’t stand out, even just going to the store for milk,” she says. “I only buy clothes that I love, never clothes that are just nice.” All things considered, it’s hardly a surprise that Vik counts Prince prodigy Sheila E. as a muse across the board. “The way she dressed for the stage—the fringe tops, one-legged pants, and big hats —while just killing [it on] the drums had a huge impact on me both style-wise and musically.” These days, Vik plays up her ethereal fuzz with splashy outerwear, printed mini dresses, and oversize power suits. “I try to balance my outfits, mixing new and vintage, oversized and feminine,” she says of interpreting ’80s style on her own terms. “The best combination is always the unexpected."
Nadia Lee Cohen
Photographer: Wendy Bevan
British photographer and filmmaker Nadia Lee Cohen also enjoys conjuring up nostalgia for decades past, both with her taboo-smashing art and striking good looks. ”If there is an aesthetic that I don’t appreciate now, that doesn’t mean that I won’t appreciate it in the future,” explains the 27-year-old Angeleno by way of the English countryside. “At the moment, I’m really into trends from the ’80s. It was an era that had really questionable styles, but taking something that might not be considered attractive and seeing if I can make it work is one of my favorite things to do.” And while it’s translating with her bright pastel wardrobe and Way Bandy–esque swathes of cobalt eyeshadow, signaling her fixation on the era best is her tousled dark chocolate coils with frothy, face-framing layers that play up her angular bone structure. The plot twist? “My hair is actually poker straight,” she admits. “[But] I saw an amazing photo of my mum on the beach with a perm and was so into the idea of reliving that hair now.” With fantastical looks in mind, and the help of two close hairstylist friends (“Sometimes I’ll ask them, ‘Does this outfit need the Charo or the Rick James?’ ” she explains), Cohen keeps her faux-curl pattern on lock, from the streets of L.A. to across the pond. Weather permitting, that is. “Sometimes it’s more Bob Ross than Diana Ross,” she says. “Depends on the humidity."
Camila De Alexandre
Photographer: Alessandro Dazzi
But while springy ringlets inevitably evoke the theatrical spirit of that decade, they still have plenty of modern appeal if one’s style happens to be more casual or skews tomboyish. In São Paulo, Brazil, 29-year-old model and makeup artist Camila de Alexandre coolly demonstrates the versatility of her lion’s mane of auburn corkscrews, whether she’s on the job or gliding through her city with her all-girls skateboarding crew. Although De Alexandre went through a hair-straightening phase for many years of her life too, she felt inspired to stop after doing the makeup for 2015 Afro-Brazilian short film Kbela, in which director Yasmin Thayná honed in on black female identity and the power of lopping off chemically relaxed hair to go natural. “When I first cut it, it was super weird for me, [but] as it grew out, I began to understand it, appreciate it, and love myself more,” she admits. When she’s not wearing it in an afro, De Alexandre often whips her hair into gravity-defying high ponytails or towering buns that are both expressive and practical, much like her laissez-faire wardrobe, which is largely composed of billowy T-shirts and hoodies, as well as sweatpants and crisp white sneakers. “Skateboarding has given me a lot of freedom in that I don’t feel obligated to look put together or dress up,” she says of the hobby she’s reconnected with over the past few years. “Wearing my hair natural with baggy clothes and no make up on, it’s almost like going back in time and reconnecting with another part of me.”