There are a handful of cues in the early part of the third season of Succession that clearly mark Jeremy Strong’s character growth, effectively taking Kendall Roy from his sycophantic fall guy phase to his “alpha-bro dominance” phase. There’s the taunting of his newly estranged family with choice profanity; the assembling of a top-notch female-run crisis team that he talks over and/or totally ignores; and the obvious return to his season one swagger. But the evolution is perhaps clearest when Roy’s enabling girlfriend, Naomi Pierce — played expertly by Annabelle Dexter-Jones — gets out of their town car at a red carpet event and flips the most perfect, razor sharp, don’t-fuck-with-us bob I’ve seen in recent memory.
“They gave us no direction. It was completely up to us,” says Ashley Javier, Dexter-Jones’s longtime hairstylist. After keeping the actor’s hair “cute and conservative” in earlier seasons of the hit HBO show, Javier wanted to make sure Dexter-Jones “showed up with a look” in season three, he says. It was a textbook lesson in on-screen impact — and something we can all borrow from in 2022 as talk of renewal continues to swirl: Who needs resolutions when you can have a transformational haircut?
“To me the bob is the most important haircut women have ever had,” says Javier, offering a hair history lesson dating back to newly enfranchised flappers, and Vidal Sassoon’s ’60s-era geometric cuts, which effectively helped women move away from hair sets and into hair cuts. But as anyone who has ever tried to go short is well aware, nuance is key when considering the bob, which can go very wrong very quickly, and is often plagued by what Javier describes as an asymmetrical slant (“tacky”), or — God forbid — unwanted weight in the back that can create a mushroom shape (“really tacky”).
But the idea isn’t total uniformity either, he concedes — the death knell of any trend these days. Here, the self-proclaimed “king of the bob” deciphers the dos and don’ts of going short, and why we shouldn’t be afraid to go even shorter – Dexter-Jones, for example, welcomed the new year with a fresh, new pixie.
Keep it modern
“Whenever I do a haircut, I bring references. I showed Annabelle the “How Soon Is Now” video from the Smiths — the model in that video has this bob that we were all obsessed with in the ’80s. And I showed her some of these flapper bobs, which were set close to the head. But the way we made hers modern was by keeping the length of the bob right at the hairline, so the neck is really extended. Then I thinned out the back and flattened it to the head so it did not overshadow the punch of the front. When it comes around the front, there is no slant, and that front little piece has a point, which is really important.”
Keep it authentic
“The bob is so misunderstood, but people are starting to get it. I hear from all of my clients, ‘Oh, you have to be tall for that cut,’ or, ‘Oh, I’m not skinny enough or pretty enough for that.’ But what always ends up happening is that I’ll start them off with a lob and they’ll want to go shorter. Because the bob is the most flattering haircut on everyone. It separates the head from the torso from the legs, it elongates the neck, and it can be quite feminine and glamorous. It almost feels like you’re wearing a gorgeous garment. There are no real rules for how short to go, but I personally like to do the cut so it hits at the back of the jaw and the front part is a little bit longer, closer to the chin. But if you have a longer face, you can go easily above the jawline.”
Keep it clean
“Done right, the bob is also the cut most likely to inspire hair FOMO. It feels like a designer piece — it’s a cut, cut, cut! And the beauty of the modern bob is that it’s clean. It doesn’t feel tortured or laboured. Using a good styling cream is more important to me than using something to texturise because the point is not to make it look too stiff. If you start going in there and making it piecier and punkier that’s fine, but that doesn’t feel fresh for now to me.
“What does feel fresh is just working with your natural texture and natural bends. The shape should just speak for itself. Use really good clean shampoo, and a good conditioner, put in your leave-in cream, let it dry naturally and let your texture find its way. A little off is better than too perfect. And for people who do want or need to heat style: when you use the straightening iron, pull it down and then out at the ends a bit. You don’t want it to look round, and you don’t want it too straight or else it looks broom-y. And if you’re going to blow dry and straighten it, don’t go anywhere that night. Sleep in it, girl!”