The Italian bob is the ageless hairstyle of the summer – just ask Emily Ratajkowski
Pass the Aperol spritz, add a pair of cat-eye sunglasses and say ciao to the Italian bob, which looks set to be a favourite hairstyle of the summer. A hybrid of sexy 1960s screen siren with a touch of modern glamour, and yes, it’s probably another legacy of The White Lotus, as showcased by ringleader Lucia Greco as she sashayed through the San Domenico Palace hotel lobby, bob swinging in unison with her hips.
It’s a full-volume, luxuriously polished version of the French bob, with an added couple of inches to the length. But my favourite thing about it? It’s very easy to maintain, despite its high glamour factor, and most definitely falls into Neapolitan chef Gino D’Acampo’s “minimum effort, maximum results” ethos.
Federico Sabatino, hairstylist at Josh Wood Atelier, says, “It’s less edgy than a textured bob and more laissez-faire than a precise, geometric French bob. It’s the contemporary way to conjure up 1960s dolce vita allure. Think Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren meet Monica Bellucci.” According to Sabatino, “It’s the slightly choppy ends giving the hair a little kick at the perimeter” that make it chic and modern-looking.
Celebrities Kaia Gerber, Hailey Bieber and supermodels Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid are all sporting versions of it this spring.
Celebrity hairdresser Michael Charalambous is the king of the full-bodied luxury bob (he has cut bobs on Monica Bellucci and Olivia Palermo) and it was he who persuaded me to trade up my Farrah Fawcett flicks for this more sophisticated style a few months ago. I must admit, I felt like a Gucci advert as my hair swished out of his Sloane Square salon afterwards.
“The thing about this style is that it’s a great way to add body and volume to thinning midlife hair,” explains Charalambous, “and the chunky blunt ends can make the hair look thicker and expensive looking.” Generally speaking, if you’re struggling with volume, cutting it into this style can make a massive difference. The longer the hair is, the more it can be weighed down, so cutting it to collar length or above is an instant way to boost volume.
The “dolce far niente” bob does require a bit of effort at home, but I definitely found it easier to style than my Charlie’s Angels flicks. And, curiously, my home blow-drys look much more professional than they used to. One of the keys is to use a volume-boosting product that doesn’t weigh the hair down. I haven’t used hair mousse since the 1980s, but Sam McKnight’s new Cool Girl Volume Blow Dry Foam has changed that. It’s extremely lightweight, adds the perfect amount of oomph and somehow adds shine even to blonde hair, which is notoriously difficult to make shine.
Charalambous showed me another volume-boosting trick for this long bob, which is to flip where you wear your parting (change from a centre parting to side parting, or vice versa) to get instant root lift. You’ll have thicker, fuller-looking hair in seconds, which practically begs for a pair of Brigitte Bardot wide-rimmed sunglasses to be perched on top.
Frizz, of course, must be kept at bay for the swish factor. Having tried myriad pre-blow-dry smoothing sprays, the winner for anyone with highlighted or coloured hair is Rahua’s Hydration Detangler & UV Barrier spray (£34). It’s the best I’ve ever found for taming my frizzy, midlife hair into smooth locks.
And because the style is a bit longer than a classic bob, it’s more versatile, so hair can be worn up or down – or accessorised for the full-on Riviera effect with a wide hairband. Born in the Sun has some wonderful woven raffia and towelling versions in sunny Neapolitan ice-cream colours, as well as more classic beiges.
I must say, I have no plans to return anytime soon to my layered Farrah Fawcett flicks. The real beauty of this style, however, is that it makes you feel a little bit as though you’re on holiday, even when you’re not. So, though I seem to be on an endless round of university open days with my son this spring, and I may be on a dual carriageway skirting Pontypridd, my hair is in Portofino.