The Girl Next Door
Holmes' Short Hair Makes Bold Statement
Call it "Scientology Chic." Katie Holmes debuted a stylish bob this past summer and, all of a sudden, her 180-degree reinvention from low-key twentysomething to sophisticated arm candy of Tom Cruise seemed established in this case, the hair really DID make the woman.
The "Dawson's Creek" alum recently updated her look, displaying eye-grazing bangs at a red-carpet event in Germany. Photos of the china-doll haircut swept through cyberspace, as Internet critics weighed in: some loved it, some hated it, and some sniped at its uncanny resemblance to the 'do of her 1-year-old daughter, Suri.
"Is it just me or does Katie/Kate Holmes look like an ENTIRELY DIFFERENT PERSON with her hair cut into that short, sharp bob??" Elle magazine blogger Carol Han observed. "She's gotten about 17 times hotter, while Tom seems to have gotten exponentially worse looking!"
While long hair remains the norm in Hollywood, a handful of cropped cuts versatile variations on The Bob are making bold statements, from Holmes' classic coiff to Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham's sleek style to pop star Rihanna's edgy mane makeover.
"The bob really comes back every couple of years, and it really is just a way of kind of cleaning house like starting new but still (having) a great, feminine haircut," says hairstylist Ken Paves. "And all the girls that are wearing it right now are wearing it to perfection, I believe. I think Rihanna's hair is genius. I love Katie's."
As for who triggered the bob's rebirth among the rich and trendy, Paves, whose celeb clientele includes Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Simpson, points the finger at Beckham.
"It would be silly to say that she was the only person in Hollywood wearing a bob, because, you know, by all means, she was not but hers definitely drew the most attention at that time," he says of the media frenzy over the Spice Girl's drastic 2006 hairdo: stacked in the back, angled at the side.
Rihanna put a severe spin on The Posh last spring with super lopsided layers a smart way to stand out, given the buzz surrounding her megahit "Umbrella." Holmes Beckham's B.F.F. took a more moderate approach, as did Christina Applegate and Hilary Swank. Christina Ricci recently popped up on the red carpet with an ear-skimming bob.
Posh, schmosh, says Amy Synnott-D'Annibale, beauty director at In Style magazine. She says the trend began several years ago when former bad girl Nicole Richie classed-up her image with a sideswept bob (a good PR move, given the less-than-ladylike behavior of certain long-haired tabloid magnets.)
"There was a time when the bob was considered a more conservative, preppy hairstyle, and that's no longer the case," explains Synnott-D'Annibale, who says the style "reflects a bigger change in Hollywood that among the younger generation there's a desire to be more stylish than sexy."
More and more young stars under constant scrutiny from TMZ.com and other celebrity news outlets are tending to their appearance and dressing to impress other women rather than appeal to mens' taste for revealing outfits and long, wavy hair, Synnott-D'Annibale says.
New York stylist Harry Josh, who oversees the silky manes of Gwyneth Paltrow and Gisele Bundchen, says "there's an overwhelming boredom with hair right now. Going above the shoulder is so much fresher than keeping it on the long side, but there's very few people that are willing to take the plunge."
He thinks it would take at least "20 major people" to make the trend mainstream.
"It'd be more influential if Kate Moss, Cameron Diaz, you know, those kind of girls did something with their hair, because people look at them and think, `I want to be them,'" says Josh, who shuns Holmes' status as a fashion icon.
All things considered, Frances Baetiong, 27, from Naperville, Ill., was so intrigued by Holmes' hair that she brought a photo of the star to the salon a couple weeks ago.
"I ended up chickening out with the bangs," says Baetiong, who instead took inspiration from Beckham for an asymmetrical bob that one friend calls "the Victor/Victoria Beckham."
Synnott-D'Annibale says she's met several women who tell her that Holmes spurred their decisions to get bob styles.
"It's a pretty wearable style," she says. "It's not that crazy."