If there’s one accessory that has been much (and perhaps unfairly?) maligned it’s the hair scrunchie.
Remember that infamous scene in Sex and the City in which Carrie Bradshaw declared to her boyfriend at the time that there were basically two categories of women in the world – those that would wear a scrunchie and those that wouldn’t. It spelled the end of the relationship, which speaks to the power of the soft, floppy hair accessory that was the coolest item to wear circa your blue light disco in the 90s.
Then the story about Hillary Clinton (a woman, it must be said, who understands the power of a hairstyle change) and how her affection for the hair scrunchie sent her staff scrabbling to try to ban them.
A fact that, as Jess Cartner-Morley noted in 2014 was frankly a shame, because Clinton’s scrunchies humanised her (had she worn them in the presidential debates last year could things have been different?).
“Her scrunchies look like she buys them in a corner drugstore, and the image of her smartening herself up is reminiscent of the way you or I might grab two minutes in the ladies’ before a meeting,” Cartner Morley wrote at the time.
“Not yet quite comfortable with the notion of women in power, we seem to prefer such women not to muddy the waters by behaving too, well, normally. Add to that the fact that Clinton is 66 and that the scrunchie is associated with youth – teenage pop stars in the 1980s, Courteney Cox in Friends, Olympic gymnasts – and you have a hair accessory turned political hot potato.”
So when is a hair accessory just a hair accessory? Not when it’s worn by a woman constantly criticised for the way she looks or presents herself. But possibly when it’s worn on the catwalk as evidenced in the Mansur Gavriel runway show.
The New York designers, Floriana Gavriel and Rachel Mansur, responsible for the cult “non it bag, it bags”, the bucket bags everybody seemed to own at one point and the suede block heel glove shoes that are somehow hip and not reminiscent of ones worn by our grandmas, made their ready-to-wear debut at fashion week on the weekend.
While the clothes, which can be bought right now with the brand jumping onto the see-now-buy-now train, shared a similar aesthetic to their coveted accessories – minimal, devoid of fuss, in hues that women with places to be want to wear, it was the sighting of scrunchies in the models’ hair that struck a chord.
As Kathleen Hou noted in The Cut of seeing them in the flesh, the Mansur scrunchies, which can be purchased for $US35, are “not the crushed-velvet kind your mom bought you in a stack of five from Costco. Mansur’s scrunchies are made of vintage Italian fabric, but they’re fancy vintage, not ironic vintage. They’re large enough that they can be wrapped around the hair twice without making your pony look like it’s being strangled, yet not so fluffy as to look kitsch or cute. And their texture perfectly complements Mansur’s turtleneck knits, nubby wool coats, and puffy coats.”
They’re a scrunchie that can be worn by grown-up women with jobs, or political aspirations.
So is the scrunchie really making a comeback? It’s been threatening to for some time. The New York Times called it a few years ago, but it fizzled away. As Man Repeller noted, the scrunchie has in recent times been spotted in the wild on the likes of fashion journalist and podcaster Pandora Sykes.
In other accessories news from New York Fashion Week, perhaps the best was the Bandelette anti-chafing thigh bands sent down the runway at the Chromat show – hello summer.
Meanwhile Raf Simons reworked his all-American Western look (this time with a darker edge as Cathy Horyn noted in her analysis of Simons’ “American Horror Story” with colourful cowboy boots and rubber gloves, Victoria Beckham’s perfectly pitched pieces for working women were accentuated with blue pumps, Tibi had colourful perspex waist belts, and perhaps the best fun was found at Eugenia Kim with her whimsical oversized straw bags and in Kate Spade’s wicker crocodile bags.