24 October 2020

Messy French buns

This weekend's posting is an ode to the messy French bun a.k.a. "messy French girl bun" or just "messy bun," an enigmatic hairstyle that's been taking over the internet. According to instagram feeds, everyone is gravitating towards “easy," but to be authentique the key word here is "messy" (see My French hair) - natural, uncontrived, slightly unruly - though it is not perceived as messy in France.

This carefree look can be seen in the character of Sylvie in Emily In Paris, the new Netflix series where Emily's French boss (played by Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu), despite pushing 60, steals the show from her over-dressed, over-excited, much younger (yet endearing) American nemesis. But the verdict is in, and it is Sylvie whose wayward wisps and ubiquitous half-sneer make her the most riveting in a series rife with wince-inducing clichés.  

Along with a wardrobe of scarves, the messy bun can be found lurking somewhere inside almost every Parisienne's (designer) bag of tricks, ready to be pulled out at a moment's notice. But for it to be truly Frenchy, this bun - chignon in French - should appear to be an afterthought, swiftly secured with preferably no more than one pin, hair clip or hair tie. And that's it. Years ago I started to write a piece for a beauty magazine called, "The Bun Is Back" but then realized, that at least in France, it never went away.

For a wedding or special occasion most Paris coiffeurs and coiffeuses will expertly oblige with more sophisticated versions. There is a bar à chignons in the Latin Quarter that used to offer a bun+soin de visage (facial) package because zut, lovely skin and chignons go together, like café crèmes and pains au chocolat. - BPJ

Above: daughter Danielle's classic pileup is held in place w/one long hairpin; me w/my usual (messy) one-clip upsweep

Below: 3 messy French buns in a row; a 4-step beach bun (merci Clotilde* - click to enlarge) created in seconds using no pins or clips whatsoever

 * Winner "messiest French girl bun": Clotilde


Top photo image courtesy of Danielle
(dress by Vera Wang)

Barbara Pasquet James

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