The Face Of Fashion: Beyond The Fringe
Celebrity hair stylist Nicky Clark recalls his brushes with Diana and reviews the most copied coiffures of their times.
Hair stylist Nicky Clarke
It's that age-old dilemma. When you've found a great hair stylist, do you keep him to yourself or share his number with your new best friend? Fortunately for Diana, when she was getting ready for a night out with Sarah Ferguson, and Sarah's hair stylist Nicky Clark was around, the Duchess of York was happy for Diana to benefit from his skills. "It was along the lines of, 'Oh, and can you do my mate,' kind of thing," Nicky recalls. "Diana made me cheese sandwiches, it was that informal. She was very down to earth and lovely."
Nicky would have the pleasure of styling Diana's hair again, and was responsible for her unforgettable look the night of Pavarotti's rain-lashed concert in Hyde Park in 1991. "It wasn't particularly meant to be wet looking," says Nicky. "I was trying to move away from those stiff looks she'd had before. I was annoyed there weren't any pictures of her arriving at the concert, as that would have shown how I'd styled it. But the pictures of her wet hair made great front pages. It was the first time anybody had seen Diana in that vulnerable but lovely state."
Here, Nicky identifies some of Diana's key looks and explains what they say about the times:
Some of the key looks Nicky styled for Diana
- Chelsea girl (1982): "The early eighties saw the end of punk and the beginning of the new romantics, with bigger, spikier hair really coming in. This cut was about two years out of date for the time. It suggests Diana's loyalty to her hairdresser. She didn't want to change, so ended up with this long fringe. Or perhaps she wanted to hide behind it?
- Shire, retiring & growing up (1984): "The whole power-dressing look was going on in 1983 and 1984 and saw women wearing sharp business suits with perfect hair. Again, Diana's hair didn't really fit with the times, she wasn't the style icon she would later become. This look says she was still somebody from the shires, who wore a lot of navy blue, full skirts, big collars and pearls outside the sweatshirt. It was a very obvious uniform at that time, and Diana was just following suit. She wouldn't have known any different. Also from the power-dressing era, she's moving away from that little girl look, but it's not great and was slated by the press. She was at a stage many young women go through, feeling experimental and wanting to try new things. But Diana knew she was stuck within the royal system so had to look a certain way."
- The Chop (1993): "It's a cliché to say people cut their hair off when they break up with a partner. But like most clichés, there's an element of truth. Diana was probably just getting in touch with her fun side and realizing she could literally chop and change."
- Slick tease (1995): "The wet look was in at this point of the nineties, and after her break up with Charles, Diana was finding her own sense of style. She was addressing a fashion crowd and she knew she would be in the news. This shows a confidence you don't see in earlier pictures."
- Sign of the times (1997): "A lot of people adopted this look. It was very clean, behind the ears, slightly sporty but loose. You can tell from this cut that she's happy and is a lot more comfortable with herself."
Reference: Diana: A Celebration, a tribute magazine published in 2007.