Marilyn Brings Back the Bouffant

Marilyn by Bert Stern, 1962

The bouffant hairstyles of the early 1960s are making a comeback, as Marisa Meltzer reports for the New York Times.

Kenneth Battelle styles Marilyn’s hair for photographer Bert Stern, 1962

“‘The inspiration was the 1960s and Priscilla Presley,’ said Serena Radaelli, who did Cher’s hair. ‘Cher said, “Excuse me, I was alive then,” and showed us photos of herself in the ’60s.’

The hairstyle, known for its round shape, with hair swept off the face and shellacked into place with quite a bit of hair spray, is symbolic of all that is retro. Think of Catherine Deneuve, Betty Draper in Mad Men and multiple first ladies (Lady Bird Johnson, Betty Ford, Jacqueline Kennedy).

‘They used to be this glaring symbol that you were a lady of the leisure class, right?’ said Stellene Volandes, the editor in chief of Town & Country. ‘They said, “Yes, I have time to go to Kenneth and spend the afternoon there and have him tease my hair high and eat sandwiches from William Poll.”‘

She was referring to the hairdresser Kenneth Battelle, who was a master of the bouffant. Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy were clients.

Ms. Volandes said she would send those curious about the bouffant to stylists who know their way around an uptown clientele: John Barrett, Valery Joseph, Julien Farel or Serge Normant — or to Paul Podlucky’s apartment salon on East 67th Street for real Upper East Side verisimilitude.

If you’re curious about attempting a D.I.Y. bouffant, Ms. Radaelli has some counsel. ‘Have a nice comb to tease the hair — maybe you need to have a hairpiece — and lots of hair spray,’ she said. She recommended L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray, which came on to the market in the 1960s. Its gold packaging still has a drawing of a lady with a bouffant.”

Thanks to Eiji Aoki