The big short

The big short

From a cut symbolising post-war liberation to a style that oozes confidence in 2020, here’s why the pixie crop is more relevant (and beautiful) than ever

“People say that you need to be brave to pull off this haircut,” says Cos Sakkas, Toni&Guy’s International Artistic Director. “I say that it conveys a woman’s strength. It’s a cut that brings out inner confidence and there’s nothing more empowering than that.”

It’s fair to say that Sakkas is passionate about the enduring impact of the pixie crop and charting its history reveals a fitting association between the ‘pixie’ and female power. From a flapper-era rebellion against traditional female archetypes to the shorter hairlines and hemlines that characterised the free spirit of the 60s mod movement, the pixie cut has become an emblem of dynamism, autonomy and revolution.

When it comes to haircuts that make personal or political statements, it’s the most significant style there is. Sakkas labels it the ultimate ‘screw it’ hair look, and that pretty much sums up where the pixie crop is at. However, in 2020 that needn’t mean forgoing softness and leaving your ‘old self’ on the salon floor. It’s a versatile cut that should embrace and express your character, enhance everything from eyes to cheekbones and push the boundaries on your terms. Just channel pixie crop adopter Mia Farrow, who revealed in her 1997 memoir that she went for the chop on a whim.

“I didn’t ask for permission, because I knew I wouldn’t get it,” she confessed. Fellow 60s icons Audrey Hepburn, Jean Seberg and Edie Sedgwick proved that the pixie could be everything from gamine to sexy to punky, while modern incarnations run the gamut from sweeping and nonchalant to razor-sharp and cropped close. For evidence of the pixie’s shape-shifting potential, see Janelle Monáe’s sleek, side-parted pixie, Zoë Kravitz’s textured crop, Carey Mulligan’s Gatsby-esque short cut and the many, many variations on the style showcased by pixie veteran Charlize Theron.

So how do you make the pixie yours? The pixie cut has been in Toni&Guy’s DNA since its debut in the company’s collections in the 1980s, so Sakkas and his team are well placed to reinvent it a century on from its ‘roaring 20s’ popularity.

Finer details

Individualisation is paramount to the success of a pixie cut. Whether it’s tapering around the face, adding subtle layers or cutting in a piece-y fringe, the beauty of the pixie cut is that it’s the least ‘cut by numbers’ look out there. Sakkas highlights that, above all, it’s a style that needs some texture. “You really need to ‘feel it’,” he says. “Maintaining a bit of length on top means that you can run your hands through it and create a sense of movement.”

The Toni&Guy artistic team’s 2020 spin on the pixie cut fuses androgyny with femininity. Called the ‘shape up’ (a barber shop term for a style that involves cutting a straight line across the hairline and neckline), the cut combines traditionally masculine techniques with an ethereal, feminine edge. Sakkas says that if this take on the pixie cut were an item of clothing, it would be a jumpsuit. In short, it’s seriously cool but without trying too hard.

Throwing shade

The importance of artfully applied colour to a finished pixie cut look is often underestimated, according to Sakkas. “Colouring techniques that create depth and volume can make or break the pixie cut,” he says. “The right balance of light and shade creates instant texture and will show off your cut to its best potential.”

Softly, softly

You don’t need a vat of gel or wax to style short hair: Sakkas emphasises that it’s easy to achieve a soft, healthy finish with just a smidgen of product, using your hands as styling tools. Apply label.m Blow Out Spray before blasting with a hairdryer and working a small amount of label.m Curl Define Soufflé into hair, styling with your fingertips. For more texture, just tease out hair with a dab of label.m Soft Wax. To book a hair appointment with Cos Sakkas, contact Toni&Guy Sloane Square on 020 7730 8113

  • Words: Anna Lao-Kaim

  • Photography: Toni&Guy Archive; 1985