From Selena Gomez to Holly Willoughby, the statement barrette has been adding a fashionable finishing touch
Alexa Chung has long been a fan and regularly wears several at once. Ariana Grande has made a plain silver hair clip a signature, along with her high ponytail. But barrettes with a message are making the humble hair clip the accessory of choice this party season.
Once reserved for bridal hairstyles, ornate barrettes – which come from the French word “barre” (meaning “bar”) – and statement hair grips are the fashion finishing touch this Christmas.
Selena Gomez wore a diamante one spelling out the word “ugly” in September, which was seen as a response to Stefano Gabbana using the same adjective to describe her on social media earlier in the year.
Holly Willoughby, to finish her stint on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, posted an image of herself with three hair clips reading “jungle is massive”. It came with a pop-culture wink – referring to the reality TV show, of course, but also, unexpectedly, to M-Beat and General Levy’s 1994 drum’n’bass hit Incredible, and Ali G’s cover of the song in 2010.
Willoughby’s clips were the work of London-based label Tilly Thomas Lux. Sally Thomas, who designed the accessories, says the TV exposure led to a spike in interest in the brand. “[The hairclips] are just enough to make you feel like you are wearing something really special and the sparkle lifts any look into the party scene,” she says.
London designers are leading the party barrette trend. Ashley Williams’ diamante clips tap into the general mood of the nation. Bestsellers this winter include the “anxiety” and “error” designs.
Sold for between £60 and £75, barrettes are a relatively affordable designer accessory. “Dressed-up hair was a key look on the catwalk this season,” says Patti Green, a buyer at matchesfashion.com. “The price point makes it such an accessible trend for so many different types of customer.”
The high street is offering a series of purse-friendly options: Anthropologie sells pearl-covered clips for £22, Other Stories has a gold design for £8 and Monki has diamante hair pins for £6.
The trend’s origin could stem from a revival of the name barrettes worn by black girls in the UK, Caribbean and US in the 1980s and 90s. Some of these hair clips would spell out days of the week as well as various girls’ names.
Fashion insiders have been advocating this trend for a while, with the barrette-wearing Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot in the 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums and Celine’s gold barrette on the catwalk in 2015 being key influences.
Vogue’s fashion director, Venetia Scott, wrote in the magazine’s December issue about her collection of about 20 hair accessories from brands including Chanel and Alexandre de Paris. “A hair accessory can dress up any hairstyle,” she says. “It’s foolproof.”