Thursday, 7 February 2013

The Chop

 The bob as we know it is fresh and classic.  It often changes structure; from asymmetrical to blunt to loose and free, but no matter it's texture, it always remains somewhere in the middle.  
Janine Cockburn-Haller on her cute new crop and stylist Michelle Nguyen on opting to chop.

Two weeks ago when we partied at CMD, we were thrilled by Designer and Boutique Owner Janine Cockburn-Haller's new 'do.  Since we've become accustomed to seeing her with long hair, her fresh, flirty style got us thinking about the bob's history and why the cut always seems so new and light, like a weight off your shoulders.  We sat down with Cockburn-Haller and got the dish on why she chose to go for the crop, and spoke with Michelle Nguyen, Master-Stylist and Partner of Hair Republic salon in Ottawa on the intricate cuts and subtleties that make the bob a classic.

First we had to know what framed Cockburn-Haller's decision?  "I was going to get my roots done, and while I was waiting I was looking through a [hair] magazine and saw a picture of cute hair and asked for that.  It was very spur of the moment.  I was expecting to go in for a little trim, maybe get my bangs cut a little and when I saw the picture I decided to go for it."

Sitting in the stylist's chair as she wields scissors around your head can strike panic in the heart.  Cockburn-Haller sensed hesitation, "I was a little scared when I saw all the hair falling on the floor, it was a lot more hair than I expected there to be, but I quickly saw that I was going to love it."

The bob has a short history.  In 1910, hairstylist Antoine de Paris chopped off the hair of an actress and called it the "coupe á la Jeanne d'Arc".  Over the years, many stylists claimed to have invented the bob, but Antoine de Paris maintained it was his.  Perhaps it was bound to happen anyway, with what was happening in women's rights and women's fashion.  Shorter hair would eventually mimic shorter hemlines and freedom from restrictive corsetry.

Back in these early days of the bob, women would have their hair 'set' weekly; the wash and go low-maintenance of hair as we know today didn't exist.  Mid-century, along came Vidal Sassoon, with his bold ideas about working with hair's natural texture as opposed to fighting it with chemicals.  Sassoon applied architectural rules to his styles, and invented precision cutting.  Again, the world of hairstyling changed, and wash and go hair became the norm.  Cockburn-Haller maintains the ease of the cut is one of the reason's she loves her new 'do so much.  "It's really easy to take care of, all I have to do is wash it.  Sometimes I put some [product] in it, but most times I don't."  She then lets her cropped curls air-dry, telling us,  "I don't own a hair drier."

Nguyen is well schooled in Vidal history and techniques.  She explained, "Vidal Sassoon was the master of the bob, and every bob cut mimics some sort of technique Sassoon created."  Nguyen explained the standard bob is a cut that ends somewhere between the ear and shoulder, but is always above the shoulder.

"The technique is that it's like an undercut; each section you bring down goes a little longer over the next section, though there are many variations.  Angled bobs go more into precision cutting technique." She explains.  "The bob is one of those haircuts that's always there.  It's never going to go out of style."

There's something about a new cute crop that gets people around you thinking about freshening up too.  We see a celebrity on the red carpet looking different, looking good and we think about doing it too. "My mom went in to ask for the 'Janine', but it didn't work because her hair was too short, so she has to go back later." Janine tells us.  Her 'do is already inspiring others.

As with all trends and fashions, types of the bob vary each season.  For spring '13 we're seeing the loose and free 'french' or 'bed head' bob styles.  As we lose Winter layers, it's easy to welcome Spring with a lessening of locks.  We're yet again eager to be free.  Maybe that's why the bob always stays - it's an easy freedom.  Less committal than a pixie, less work than length.  It's not just a haircut, it's telling the world you're lighter, less encumbered.

Nguyen notes that anyone with any hair type can wear a bob, but each bob depends on the individual's texture of hair, and for a complex bob she recommends to go with a stylist who has plenty of experience.  "The bob tends to be a precision hair stylist's favourite style to do.  If a stylist can master the bob they can master any cut."

As for Janine, she's happy with her new look.  "I'm getting a lot of compliments on it, a lot of people say it suits my face, and I do think it's the haircut that I should have."  She recognizes that it suits her personality and her life.  "I always look at pictures of long hair and think 'ooh I want that' but then when it's on my head it never works out that well."


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