JANET STREET-PORTER: Covid turns locks into hairstyles time forgot

JANET STREET-PORTER: Why have so many grown men let Covid turn their locks into the hairstyles that time forgot – at best – or child abuse suspects at worse?

Freed from the conventions of office-life and the need to maintain certain standards, months of lockdown have allowed men to be a bit more adventurous about their appearance- but the results can be disastrous.

Male politicians and business leaders are finding out what film stars and TV presenters have known for years – your hair is your brand.

Get it right and you’re man of the moment, get it wrong and you’re a laughing stock. 

Some pandemic hairstyles were stylish, most completely tragic. Mullets, buzzcuts, creepy ponytails and a lot of thinning lank strands looped behind the ears.

Men are in the stone age when it comes to hair intelligence. Women, on the other hand know a good hairdo gives you confidence, sending a message to others about how you want to be treated.

Being denied access to hairdressers was frequently given (by women) as the most upsetting aspect of lockdown. I got so desperate I resorted to cutting my fringe live on daytime television.

Covid has forced men to rethink personal grooming, and they’ve coped in a variety of ways- some treating their heads like another aspect of DIY, resorting to self-care, wife/partner-care and lack of care.

Tony Blair. Once he was the bright young architect of New Labour, the man who was leading us into a brave new future together. Now he looks like the leader of a nutty cult

Some famous fellows blatantly lied about trips to a professional cutter. Funny how Dominic Raab and Michael Gove have hair that NEVER LOOKS DIFFERENT. I call it nonentity hair.

Other men ‘just happened’ to live with a professional stylist – wonderful luck and so convenient (ha ha).

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The buzz cut has only worked on one Pandemic Personality – Deputy Chief Medical Officer Jonathan Van Tam.

His blunt, down to earth no nonsense hair and no nonsense gags (on easing lockdown – ‘don’t tear the pants out of it’) placed JVT in a winning category all on his own. This is someone we can all relate to.

On the other hand, Boris Johnson’s hair screams one thing – angry baby.

His incandescent appearance at Prime Minister’s Questions this week did him no favours. Large, pink and yellow – he’s starting to resemble that inflatable of Donald Trump in a nappy that once floated over the Houses of Parliament.

How can you take someone seriously who deliberately musses up their hair before any public appearance to look like they’re in a wind machine?

Long and tousled in lockdown, short and hacked when barbers reopened – both styles are designed to woo us into thinking Johnson is rock-and-roll, down with the ordinary folk. In fact, cushiongate and remarks about ‘bodies piling up in the streets’ shows the opposite is true. He’s arrogant and entitled.

Boris – like royalty – wants to be easily visible at 500 yards. He wants to be King of the World, with loudhailer hair to match.

On the other hand, Boris Johnson’s hair screams one thing – angry baby

The global trendsetter when it comes to statement hair is Donald Trump – a man with a style concocted out of very little raw material. An architectural tour de force held together with maximum strength hairspray. A hairstyle which says Fuck the Rest of You -I’m Doing Things My Way and Your Opinion is of No Consequence.

As for the politicians who abide by the lockdown rules, let nature take its course and end up with a bad mullet (as in the case of Transport Minister Grant Shapps) the result is a PR disaster.

I got so desperate I resorted to cutting my fringe live on daytime television

Nothing they say with that 1970’s Top of the Pops mop on their heads will be taken seriously. They can forget about promotion, just hope that post-pandemic they have any kind of a job in government.

Mullet men like Shapps come across as end of the pier entertainers spouting government messages with little conviction, looking like a third division glam rock band from the Home Counties who can’t even get a gig at Pontins.

Someone with no gravity, who constantly tells us he doesn’t know when we can go on holiday, who can’t even get the paperwork sorted by May 17 so we can leave the UK and return without spending 6 hours sleeping on the floor at Heathrow.

And then there is Tony Blair. Once he was the bright young architect of New Labour, the man who was leading us into a brave new future together. Now he looks like the leader of a nutty cult.

But this week the 67-year-old former PM stunned viewers by appearing on television sporting shoulder length flowing grey locks.

Wits scoffed he looked more like Gollum from Lord of the Rings than the man on a personal mission for world peace. Jesus Christ Superstar recast as a wrinkly pensioner. Noddy Holder in an expensive suit with a new white shirt sexily unbuttoned at the neck? Whatever. 

Brad Pitt presented an Academy Award sporting newly grown hair tied back into a silly little ponytail. Yes, Brad Pitt, super-hunk, gorgeous being

Tony’s biblical look revealed a giant ego (but didn’t we know that already?) – one who secretly wishes to return to the days when he fronted a 70’s rock band called Ugly Rumours. Clearly Cherie had not been involved in the decision to go long, lank and grey. Sadly, Tony’s look was probably a ‘go-it-alone’ decision, one that went viral, but not in a good way.

I cannot believe someone who spent years in Downing Street with Alastair Campbell micromanaging their PR really doesn’t think at least twice about what people might say about such a drastic change in appearance.

In one misjudged moment Blair went from heavyweight Middle Eastern Peace broker to South London used car dealer. From international statesman to Richard Branson doppelganger or Einstein impersonator. Is Tony Blair so vain he thinks his sex appeal is enhanced by a few extra inches?

His gamble worked in some quarters- one female columnist gushed that she was still willing to get up close and personal with the man who hosted a Cool Brittania party in Downing Street back in the 1990’s.

Perhaps BlairHair was inspired by a real rock legend – ModFather Paul Weller, who released his 15th solo album On Sunset last year to positive acclaim.

His once-sharp cut spikey hair now shoulder length and silver. Weller’s uncompromising look is a political statement from someone who always does things his own way.

Tony Blair’s locks, on the other hand, are certain to be chopped following mixed reviews.

His successor Kier Starmer’s hair is highly controlled, befitting a highly successful barrister and former Director of Public Prosecutions. Over-groomed, stiff with product and not a hair out of place. Interesting when in reality he’s not in charge of anything very much except an Opposition who can’t gain traction with voters in spite of the Blonde Buffoon currently running the UK.

Of course, even film stars can have hair crises. This week, Brad Pitt presented an Academy Award sporting newly grown hair tied back into a silly little ponytail. Yes, Brad Pitt, super-hunk, gorgeous being.

Fans were astounded- one tweeting ‘did Brad win an award for Teeny Tiny Ponytail?’ and it’s become known in the trade as a ‘pandemic ponytail’.

Quite simply, Brad’s ponytail looks like something sported by a creepy pervert. It should be consigned to the bin along with Blair’s follicle failure. 

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