The original 'big hair', the beehive style, also known as the bouffant and the B52, was invented in the late fifties, possibly as an antidote to the mundanity of the pageboy and ponytail, which had dominated the earlier part of the decade. The architectural structure of the complicated beehive offered an interesting aura of elegant, high-maintenance style and was a boon to the vertically challenged as, together with heels, a female could now add a good four or five inches to her height.
By the end of the sixties however, the style had become well and truly passe, as the emergent flower-child, born of the wild-haired peace generation, rejected the smack of artifice the beehive couldn't help but project.
That first wave of beehive popularity was really a form of hair abuse as the style demanded an inordinate amount of teasing. A thin top layer was left untouched and the clumps of hair beneath were mercilessly whipped into a frenzy of knotty obedience with a teasing comb (a cruel ultra-fine toothed instrument with a slender handle to divide hair)..the top layer was then smoothed over the tortured clump and the whole creation squirted with a miasma of sticky lacquer.
According to legend the 'beehive' moniker and the credit for the style goes to Chicago hairdresser, Margaret Vinci-Heldt of Margaret Vinci Coiffures who, in an act of inspired creative quirkiness back in 1958, added a fake bee to the side of the hairdo.
Nowadays the essence of the beehive can be achieved using a bumpit -an arched plastic device with teeth that sits discreetly under a top layer of hair while still providing the necessary height. Bumpits come in various sizes to support anything from a modest height-lift to a full blown bouff.
Of course there is also the option of a hair-piece...or for the thrifty, pins and a rolled up piece of pantyhose in a matching colour.
For those who prefer the traditional method I'm told it's a good idea to use setting lotion and jumbo rollers for volume, to save on that brutal teasing which causes hair damage, though some backcombing will still be required. When you take the hair out the rollers, tease from underneath toward the scalp. Wind the whole lot under loosely and secure with pins. Follow with plenty of extra strong-hold hairspray. Good luck!
Zee Avi -Honey Bee
Beehives of the Rich and Famous
Although the beehive had returned to some degree with the sixties revival, designer Karl Lagerfield is really the man responsible for reintroducing and promoting the beehive to the excessively rich, trendy set on the catwalks of London back in 2007. Back then, Lagerfield paraded a new range of military inspired clothes and teamed them with eccentric beehive styles.
Individualist and singer, Amy Winehouse, who is an avid fan of the style and has made it her personal trademark, became Lagerfield's muse.
“She’s a style icon,” Lagerfeld has been quoted as saying, referring to Winehouse. “She is a beautiful, gifted artist. And I very much like her hairdo. I took it as an inspiration. Because, in fact, it was also Brigitte Bardot’s hairdo in the late Fifties and Sixties. And now Amy has made it her own style.”
Perhaps the most famous beehive of all time is the one that belongs to Simpson's character Marge Simpson. Her iconic blue beehive was apparently inspired by a combination of Bride of Frankenstein and the hairdo worn by Simpsons creator Matt Groening's mother Margaret, in the 1960s.
The 1950s, from whence the beehive emerged, was in many ways a transitional period, moving away from the relatively controlled 1940s, toward the more hedonistic and consumerist 60's.
The beehive was a prescient sign of the excesses to come...