From Britt Ekland to Björk’s Buns: The Argument For a Signature Hairstyle

By Allyson Shiffman
Britt Ekland

Photo: Getty

Step away from the scissors

Who among us has not suffered an existential crisis that has resulted in an ill-conceived change in hairstyle? From breakup bangs to meltdown mullets, pressure-cooker pixies to disaster dye-jobs, radically changing one's hairstyle can feel like hitting the emotional reset button. Over the past year and change, as we collectively faced the horror and relentless tedium of a life indoors, many reached for the dye bottle or the scissors to quell their fears and boredom. Remember when seemingly everyone dyed their hair pink at the very beginning of lockdown?


It isn’t just our darkest moments that drive us to the salon chair (or the bathroom mirror, as it may be). A major promotion, a new relationship or even just a new year can be the catalyst for a whole new look. Now, as we receive our vaccines, the promise of full-fledged reemergence offers a fresh, decidedly more optimistic incentive for an aesthetic overhaul. But before you do, maybe… don’t? Instead, consider this emotionally-charged act’s spiritual opposite: the signature hairstyle.

The signature hairstyle doesn’t have the same element of danger or promise of renewal as, say, chopping baby bangs or shaving an undercut and it cannot be achieved in an hour or two. It is, rather, a yearslong commitment to something specific - a pointed choice that gains its power over time.

If there is one Scandi who offers the strongest no-questions-asked argument for signature hair it’s Britt Ekland. The Swedish model, actress and Bond girl has rocked her signature blonde fringe for the better part of five decades. Now, at 78, Britt Ekland still looks like, well, Britt Ekland, all peroxide and delicate features. The efficacy of Ekland’s aesthetic could prompt a more specific rule of thumb: do not cut bangs unless you plan to keep them for at least ten years.

On the opposite side of the hair color spectrum and sporting a less-kempt signature fringe is Danish supermodel Helena Christensen. Though she has on a couple of occasions clipped her long chestnut locks into a shoulder-grazing bob, Christensen has kept her heavy bangs rather consistently since she solidified her icon status alongside the other 90s supers. Clearly it works - Christensen still graces magazine covers thirty years after she first gained recognition.

Helena Christensen Versace

Photo: Getty

If you can’t commit to a single haircut for the foreseeable future, a very specific hairdo worn frequently or, ideally, daily over several weeks or months can achieve a similar outcome. As a bonus, a more experimental execution can become a signature in significantly less time than a haircut. Case in point: Bjork’s buns. It is likely that when you close your eyes and picture Bjork, Iceland’s avant-garde princess, you picture her in buns (or wearing a swan, but no matter), even though she hasn’t worn them consistently since the 90s. The staying power of Bjork’s then-out-of-the-box (now oft-recreated) buns in our collective consciousness is a testament to their impact.

Björk Buns

Photo: Getty

Below, a curated selection of non-nordic signature hair looks to inspire you to adopt a signature of your own.

Jean Seberg
Grace Jones
Marilyn Monroe
Karl Lagerfeld
Princess Diana

Queen of French New Wave Jean Seberg's signature short bob is the epitome of Parisian Chic. Photo: Getty