Reporting on how big the buns are at the close of the Cannes Film Festival doesn’t sound like too much of a departure from the usual extreme Euro-extravagance we see every year, but this time it’s different – we are talking about hairstyles.
The bun, or topknot, has long since moved out of ballet studios, and has been considered fashionable for almost a decade now. The trend is so flattering, and so universal, it can be seen on every age group, from toddlers, to teens to new mothers who don’t want those little fingers to rip their hair out.
But it’s never really been embraced on the red carpet (with the exception Jennifer Lopez, who is queen of the style) until now.
Nicole Kidman, Bella Hadid, Fan Bingbing, Elle Fanning, Jasmine Sanders, Deepika Padukone and Kendall Jenner all sported the style at some stage during the film festival. Although, it must be said, that Jenner’s interpretation was something of a disappointment, for you see there was no pull.
And the whole point of the topknot is to pull your hair back so tight that your face comes along with it. Your eyes take on a cat-like shape, your cheek bones are higher, your forehead, smooth as butter.
It’s Botox without needles and it’s extraordinarily flattering. But Jenner, for reasons unknown, did not indulge in the pull, and left her knot looking like it had been slept in, and then quickly brushed, before heading out the door. Topknots are inherently casual and not to be confused with elaborate buns or low buns or chignons – all of these are far too old fashioned and cliché for red carpets right now.
The topknot is youthful, not only because it’s flattering for the face, but because it’s the perfect complement to a dress that is not so much a sartorial statement as a deliberately provocative art installation. This is, after all, Cannes, and what goes on at this side of the French Riviera, should probably stay there, lest someone lose an eye.
It used to be enough that a celebrity wore her hair in loose waves, like Jennifer Garner, or a high ponytail, a la Blake Lively – these were the old signifiers of casual elegance. A subtextural nod to pop culture experts that, while the dress resembled a gown, the actress wearing it was still the fun-loving, fresh, young lady you always knew.
But the dominance of the topknot – the bun synonymous with getting shit done – is that women are here to work. A bun is not as playful as a pony and it is far less ornamental than any kind of hair-out situation.
It displays an almost reassuring knowledge that, sure, the dress is extra, the festival is kind of ridiculous, but if you look at my head you’ll see, I’m here for the acting, because I couldn’t give a fig.
There was only one example of the style being worn with the sort of self-seriousness normally reserved for grand old icons – the man bun affixed to David Beckham’s head. Vogue Magazine called it “one part sporty, one part samurai, and wholly stolen from his soccer days.” They also said that his man bun stole the show.
So, there you have it, the hairstyle once worn to run errands is now stealing the limelight. Perhaps it’s a hint of what’s to come at Cannes; perhaps casual really is the new formal. Wouldn’t count on it.