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The Modern Mullet – A New Era

modern mullet

It has made a comeback. Yes, we’re talking about the mullet. Controversial and divisive; business in the front and party in the back kind of hairstyle. Rocked by 21st century pop stars, the modern mullet has made big wave and signals the beginning of a new era. Known for causing disruption yet revolutionising centuries one at a time, the mullet is symbolic, it’s history. Today, we take a closer at the cultures it has adopted and how it has transformed into a hairstyle that is admired and loved. Get ready for some of the icons that made me fall in love with the mullet, the movements that inspired and influenced me, and some tips on cutting your own.

modern mullet
David Bowie performing Rebel Rebel in 1974

The mullet is a style that has made the history books (whether reputably or notoriously), and is still one of the most spoken about hairstyles to date. It is outrageous and ugly, yet it has gained the title of the most iconic hairstyle of all-time. Even more interestingly, it was seen on so many music legends, punks, skinheads, queers and even cowboys.

Joan Jett

Throughout the decades, the mullet has had its fair share of appearances. It has been on runways, stages, album covers (and most recently flooded our Instagram feeds). The history of the mullet goes back to the time when hair served only the purpose of practicality. You could see similar haircuts in Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. The Kentucky Waterfall has served its neck cooling purpose and had its time in the 60’s for being an insult – “Mullet Head” – meaning stupid. The arty weirdos of the 70’s and 80’s then decided to take the hairstyle for a ride.

The Goblin King aka David Bowie

I think we can all agree that the 80’s mullet is perhaps the most talked about. It was iconic and commonly labelled as “cool” in fashion. We’d seen Joan Jett’s greasy shag, David Bowie enchanting us all in The Labyrinth, Cher’s rocker mullet as well as lesbian culture adopting the style. And there came a point when it fizzled out and no longer got paraded by pop stars on TV. It became a mockery, a joke, a lower-class badge if you would. You’d see it only on the men-in-their-T-shirts-with-cigarettes logos. According to the TV, “it imitates dirt.”

modern mullet
Chelsea Mullets in 1981 (Photo Credit: Derek Ridgers)

So, how have we modernised the mullet? How is it now one of the most appreciated and sought-after styles again? There are many ways to answer the question, and many ways for people to inspire and get inspired.

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Mullets cut by Mullet Babyy

My inspiration comes from the people who brought it back. Those who are brave enough to rock an unapologetic style that is so looked down on, those that saw the beauty in the ugly, and those who did it for their identity and creativity. They are the misfits, the arty weirdos, the crazy punks, and they inspire me to look at the beauty standards (and especially our hair) in a different way. It has managed to bring “tribes” together and it is of endless possibilities.

Punk girls at the Roxy

When it comes to my hairdressing style, it is probably a mix of British Subculture, New York Club Kids and London Queer Culture. Nothing makes my eyes light up as much as some badly placed hair extensions on a self-cut mullet, more often than not, you will find it in a smoking area packed full of kids with absurd outfits. Truthfully, there is beauty in people cutting and styling their own hair. It comes with a sense of freedom. They look at it in a way a hairstylist maybe doesn’t. There are no rules and it’s a great way to find new shapes.

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(Photo Credit: Shirley Baker Stockport – 1983)

How to Get a Mullet (and How to Look After It)

Now the question is: How do you go about getting your mullet cut? Miscommunication often happens, especially when someone isn’t familiar with the style.

“Short in the front and long in the back?”

“A mullet”?

“Shag”?

All of these are actually quite vague. Sometimes there needs to be a discussion, involving some inspiration pictures, or even a rough sketch of your idea if it’s something a little more off the wall. Moreover, it being masculine, feminine or androgynous is such a vital question, as it’s important to translate someone’s identity and style into their hairstyle. Make sure to go with someone that you trust completely. Cutting your hair is a big deal, yes, but it grows back and you want to feel good!

Ari from punk band Pussyliqour sporting a fresh cut and colour by Mulletbabyy (Photo Credit: Hinako Suda)

What if you would like to cut your own mullet? Mullets are and always will be a drunken or a I-just-wanna-do-it-now haircut. Surely, it has got the home cut stigma attached to it for years, but I’m all for it. I cut my own as it’s a way of self expression and it’s always nice to go wild. You may not get the most professional finish but mullets are meant to be kind of ratty right?

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Sol Harding and Harry Godfrey, bleached and cut by Mullet Babyy (Photo Credit: Roxy Lee)

Now, this is very important. I would recommend investing in a pair of hairdressing scissors and/or a hair cutting razor if you’re considering cutting your hair at home on the regular. Clippers if you have shaved side, a comb with wide and fine tooth, and some sectioning clips. Having the right tools will make it a lot easier.

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Zoe Neidisch – mullet by Mullet Babyy

To make the process easier, remember to always have a clear vision of what you’d like to achieve. Make sure your hair is freshly washed, but always cut dry. Also, clip away the rest of your hair if you shave your sides. For those of you with blunt fringes, straighten it out and you’ll get a sharper finish! For choppy fringes, cutting triangles is the only way. Take your time, because you can always take it shorter. Don’t forget to always cut upwards if you want to remove length.

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Eleanor Hogg, self-styled mullet cut and coloured by Mulletbabyy

To take out weight, a slicing technique would be useful. Place your scissor at the point of the hair you’d like to remove weight from, then slowly open and close your blade, as you move your scissor downwards repeat this motion. This will give you a soft or choppy finish depending on how much you cut. For curly hair you can do the same, but instead do this with you hair twisted. It’s great to do this around the back and for all of you that get mushroom tops. Simply have fun with it! Practice and get to know your hair!

modern mullet
Alice Dodds, hair cut by Mulletbabyy

So, what’s next? It’s essential to knowing what products to use on your hair. Styling and hair products practically dictate how your haircut is being executed after the actual cutting. It will help you get the most out of your style. Want it spikey? Wax and hairspray. Texture? Sea salt spray. If your hair is bleached, avoid using sea salt spray. Grease? I’m sure most of you know that “DAX” will be your best friend.

Patti Smith 1970’s

What Can We Expect from the Modern Mullet?

The modern mullet has given us soft edges and texture, flowing lengths and an undone shaggy feel. The comeback has given us a subtle feeling and introduction as to what I think its rebirth will look like.

modern mullet 15
Picture taken at an Amanda Lepore party

The mullet will be big, bolder and texture-filled hair, with modern and alienist feels, as well as more volume and contrasting lengths. It will be taking more of a step back in time to the classic mullets and rockier choppier shapes. And we will be seeing more exaggerated styling, with sharper edges and two-toned colours with a blockier, bolder feel. More grease, more product, a brand-new modern mullet is awaiting us!

Jemima 3
Jemima Bradley (AKA Mulletbabyy)

Read our full interview with Mulletbabyy 

On Key

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