Today’s Obsession: The Beehive

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The gorgeous Anne Hathaway, styled as Holly Golightly. Photographed for Vogue by Mario Testino.

This is cute: did you know the beehive hairdo was created in Chicago? I didn’t. But it was! And it totally makes sense that a hard-workin’ hairstyle with industrial-strength holding agents and the ability to stay in place for a week at a time would be developed in the city that works its butt off.

Margaret Vinci Heldt, who invented the style from her salon, Margaret Vinci Coiffures on Michigan Avenue, was inspired by a little fez with beadwork bees that always left her hair molded into a shape when she removed it after coming in from the city’s winds and cold.

The style’s great, and so iconic now. It’s durable! You comb or smooth it back into place and it goes right back to what it should look like, and a few stray hairs can look so sexy, like a bit of a slip showing under a hem, only to be quickly tucked back away. You know you’re seeing the wearer in an intimate moment.

The beehive came about in the early sixties, because Modern Hairstyle magazine wanted something truly modern, something new, to usher in the 1960’s. The publication asked Ms. Heldt to invent something of the times. At that point, nothing new had really happened in ladies’ hair since the French twist or pageboy flip. And it makes sense that the beehive would happen in a world where increasing industrialization and durability were both seen as good things—this is the same world that brought us mass-produced frozen bags of vegetables. Never mind that it lacks a lot of the original consistency and taste, it’s durable.

The style’s a classic that can be either glamorous or trashy, depending upon the wearer and their own character, and the same exact style can look totally different on different people. It’s the polar opposite of The Rachel from the nineties, which left every girl in the world looking boring, all the same, like little boxy lollipops with too much product, trying to look casual.

Beehives you’ve seen: Holly Golightly, Marge Simpson, Amy Winehouse, any Detroit girl group ever, Divine, pretty much every female character on of Mad Men.