Bangs or “fringe,” as it’s known pretty much everywhere except the United States, has been an iconic hairstyle for centuries. We examine the origins of bangs, and talk to real women who reveal how high-maintenance the look really is. And we took a trip to Préma Hair in Manhattan’s lower east side to get a tutorial on the process behind the look. Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: It’s one of the most iconic hairstyles of all time: bangs. Also known as fringe. But we’ll get to that later. Bangs have been immortalised by countless movie stars and cultural icons. So, where did bangs come from? How does one cut them? And what does having bangs say about the women bold enough to wear them?
This is how bangs took over the world. Bangs date all the way back to the 8th century. People often credit the Egyptian queen Cleopatra for bringing them into style. But that’s just a myth.
Historians say the credit should go to this guy. His name was Zuriab, an Iraqi Renaissance man known to have started the trend. Which, as this painting shows, was also adopted by his female fans. Over the next thousand years, bangs became an institution evident in countless paintings of European women in the 18th and 19th centuries.
With the dawn of motion pictures, silent film stars like Louise Brooks made bangs an iconic style of the Roaring Twenties. Then came the era of the pinup girl. Pioneered by the notorious Betty Page. Europe moved back into the spotlight in the swinging 60s with iconic looks by model Peggy Moffitt and singer Jane Birkin.
Only in Europe, they don’t call them bangs. They call it fringe. Which is what the style is known as pretty much everywhere except the US. So fringe continued to evolve. And sometimes the results were mixed. But the look has endured and some of the most iconic women in the world have made sure that bangs, or fringe, whatever you want to call it is one of the most sought after styles on the planet.
And those brave enough to get them usually come with inspiration.
I love Taylor Swift’s bangs.
Zooey Deschanel has some great bangs.
Narrator: So, how does one actually get bangs? Well, that depends on the type of bangs you’re going for. There’s blunt, wispy, shaggy, choppy, curly, side swept, the options are endless. We went to Prema hair, in the Lower East Side of Manhattan to see how it’s done for both straight and curly hair.
Gregg Lennon: When someone with straight hair comes in for a fringe, generally we’ll want to blow dry all of the hair forward to make sure that we don’t have any partings in there. Draw the hair to the center, go ahead and cut and then soften that line in through there. When someone has curly hair, because the hair doesn’t quite sit the same way, I like to go through and cut each curl individually to make sure that it’s A, following the line in through there but also shows movement as the curls move.
Narrator: But you don’t have to go to a salon to get fabulous bangs. Lots of women prefer to do it themselves. Carefully.
Narrator: So why do women get bangs? Well, let’s ask them.
My bangs are 100% a part of my identity.
I just kind of wanted this whole new look for a new chapter.
Sometimes I just like to switch it up.
It’s kind of cliche but I actually went to Paris and a lot of girls had them and they just looked so good.
I like the way that they frame my face.
I feel like I like myself with them more.
I grew them out once and I absolutely hated it and never did it again.
It was the first time my haircut really felt like me because it wasn’t my mum picking my hairstyle.
Lennon: For the first couple of days it might want to live like this. After a week or so, that fringe will start to settle in to it’s new position and make your life a whole lot easier.
Narrator: Bangs may look effortless but maintaining them is anything but.
Bangs are super high-maintenance. It’s easy to put them in your hair but once they’re there, it’s a commitment for sure.
I straighten them every day with a straightener.
The day’s just split up between pulling out the comb and brushing them back down.
When it’s really windy out and the wind’s hitting you in both directions, and then it goes up. And then you’re like, no, that’s not how I look, I promise.
Narrator: In fact, they can be so high-maintenance they make some women swear off fringe forever.
I actually am trying to grow out my bangs right now.
The one reason why I hated them was because it was just like an extra step in the morning.
Ihad bangs as a baby because in the 90s that’s just normal. Do you see this? Look how cute I was. I don’t know what happened.
People usually ask me, oh why, I loved when you had bangs. I’m like, you loved me with bangs but you wouldn’t love having them yourself, that’s pretty much what it is. It’s just too much work.
Narrator: But there are shortcuts. Like these clip in bangs which don’t require the months it takes to grow them back out. Bangs have been around for centuries, representing some of the most iconic style moments of all time. They may be a lot of work but one thing is pretty certain, they’re never going out of style.
I don’t know, my face was way too round for them. And then after a while I’d wear them on the side like that. Like, you can’t really see that. But like, they wouldn’t fully cover my head. And another thing, is when you’re growing them out, like, some of these pictures I have, this is a picture of me … whoops.
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