When Chicago-based hairstylist Margaret Vinci Heldt, who has died at age 98, invented the beehive in 1960 it’s unlikely she thought we’d still be discussing it almost 60 years later – but here we are.
Inspired by the shape of a fez-style hat, popularised in the 1960s by people like Jackie Onassis, she developed the beehive to slot into the hollow to, you know, avoid the accursed hat hair. The hairstyle might be synonymous with the sixties and Phil Spector (see The Ronettes, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, The B52s, all early adopters) but it’s endured, via Amy Winehouse, Adele, Marge Simpson, John-Paul Gaultier’s SS12 Couture collection and Moschino earlier this year. Still, onwards and upwards, and if her death says anything about this high, round conical look, it’s that it’s one of the remaining styles immune to evolution, modernisation and, well, trends, almost bypassing fashion altogether.
Brigitte Bardot’s dishevelled take on the beehive – low, done/undone – was nicknamed the choucroute and arguably has had as much longevity as her namesake Bardot top.
Of all the beehives, Marge’s is the most off-piste (unsurprisingly, given that she’s a cartoon). Yet she often referenced its origins by shoehorning it, tardis-like, into a hat.
Along with leopardprint and ballet flats, Amy Winehouse’s beehive became her trademark look, but was laden with symbolism: “The more insecure I feel, the bigger my hair has to be,” she once said.
Jeremy Scott’s tenure at Moschino has seen a happy mash-up of retro and femininity so that his SS16 collection was heavy on the demi-beehives was no accident.
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