Rockabilly’s Rise to Fame
The rockabilly hairstyle came about in the 1950s during the era of rock and roll with icons such as Elvis Presley sporting the style. But what made this style so popular was the era in itself. The 50s was a time of cultural change, and music played a large influence on people, especially with regards to style. People were coming out of the 40s right after the war, and they were still quite conservative. But others were looking to stray from the norm, as if in rebellion to society’s standards, with an attitude of “we just want to get away from hair combed to the side with a certain attire.” Music became more sex-driven, which added to the shock-value. And when Elvis came out, his style – from his music to his fashion – was markedly different from the mainstream. As people started to listen to the music on radio and watch it on television, they saw the new style emerge. They also began to push their hair back a little bit, creating longer, more exaggerated versions of the greased-back haircuts that were popular in the 40s.
My first introduction to this idea of rockabilly was Teddy Boys. They were working class kids who took ideas from the Victorian era with three quarter length jackets and really tight pants, and they greased their hair back to create the pompadour look. In the 70s, the Teddy Boys style, along with rockabilly music, received renewed interest and resurgence, and the 80s saw a revival to bring back the Teddy Boys fashion from the 50s. The Stray Cats led the revival movement, blending the rockabilly music and style of the 50s with modern punk rock sounds and visuals.
How Retro Becomes a Trend
With a cultural shift that was so strong, the fashion and hair that came from this movement established itself into a classic that rarely goes away. Vintage styles like the rockabilly make a comeback as designers start a trend that incorporates such a style into the clothing. Magazines will start following the designers, and people will start researching the fashion to understand how the look and hairstyle came about. Take Alexander McQueen or Burberry – if they do something that has that rocker feel to it and incorporate the hairstyle into the look, all the magazines will start promoting the pompadour look along with the clothing. And that’s how the trend permeates to the masses.
As people do their research, they discover so many different variations to the style and that’s what makes it modern – how people research the style and put it together on their own. It’s not like someone’s painting one wall with one color – each person will mold a style to fit his or her individual traits. And for people like me who are in the fashion industry, it’s really important to know the history and culture of the hair and style, and where they came from. People look to us to see how we adapt the hairstyle into the daily life, and it’s our duty as people in the beauty industry to deliver that message to the clients.
Read Part 2 here.
Teddy Boys: The Edwardian Teddy Boy (John N van Rheede Toas)