In recent months, countless celebrities have had their hair chopped into a bob. But, for the Princess of Wales, this would possibly be a transformation too far; after all, it takes an arm-length of hair to twist into those triumphant chignons we’ve come to admire.
So what’s a girl to do when she feels like a change but is reluctant to do anything drastic? Get a fringe, that’s what. While visiting HMP High Down men’s prison on Tuesday, the Princess debuted what’s known in fashion circles as the “butterfly fringe”, previously seen on taste-makers like Wednesday actress Jenna Ortega and model Matilda Djerf, who inspired the trend earlier this year.
The fringe, which gets its name, unsurprisingly, from a butterfly’s wings, is designed to skim the cheekbones to create a diamond shape, which is not only forgiving on faces that have softened with time, but also gives the hair a jaunty lift. Hence why it’s popular with Gen-Zers and Boomers alike.
For the Princess of Wales, this micro update is the perfect way to freshen up an end-of-summer hairstyle in line with the new autumn season without forsaking polish. Andreas Wild from Larry King’s Notting Hill salon says: “I love the Princess’s new look; It’s very soft and modern. Sometimes when you have long hair it can hide your features. What’s beautiful about this style is that it brings out Kate’s eyes more.”
This isn’t the first time that the Princess has refreshed her look with a fringe. Just days before her first pregnancy was announced in 2012, she appeared with a choppy, flicky new fringe, and in 2020, she also paired a long bob haircut with a new subtle, face-framing fringe.
The butterfly haircut is a hybrid of the bouncy blowouts of the 1990s modelled by Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and Helena Christensen and the flicky shags of the 1970s inspired by Farrah Fawcett and Goldie Hawn.
By slicing through the front of the hair without losing overall length, you get the best of both worlds: a fresh look without the loss of identity that can sometimes happen when you take too much off in one go.
And it’s practical, too. “When you put your hair up in a ponytail or in a loose knot, you can pull out the front tendrils to softly frame the face,” says Wild.
“It’s very low maintenance,” he adds. “I remind my clients that you can go into your salon every three or four weeks for a fringe trim, which you can do on your lunch hour.”
Unlike the short crops we’re seeing on the catwalks this season, as the Princess of Wales proves, the butterfly fringe is the perfect gateway haircut: neither too daring, nor too dull.
What to ask for
Ask for a layered, feathered fringe that has enough weight to fall around the perimeter of your face when up. It should start at your cheekbones and blend into the sides of your hair seamlessly. You don’t want a demarcation line between your fringe and your hair.
Who it suits
One of the most flattering haircuts on any face shape at any age, it’s best for those looking to define their features or to slim a round face.
What hair texture works best?
Because of its length, you can scrunch your hair into tight curls with a diffuser for a soft 1980s vibe or wear it smooth and flicky. Those with fine hair will experience the illusion of thicker, fuller hair, as when you disrupt hair that’s one length, the top springs up.
Styling products you may need
Try Larry King Hair Care Volumizing Hair Mist, £35, at the roots and Larry King A Social Life for Your Hair, £12, though the ends. If your hair is particularly flyaway, try a mist of L’Oreal Paris Elnett to set the fringe in place, but not so much that you can’t run your fingers through it.