In Brief

Blair’s hair: Brad Pitt or Gandalf?

When the former prime minister appeared on ITV to discuss Scottish independence last week, all anybody wanted to talk about was his silver mane

“What is going on with male politicians and their hair,” asked Vanessa Friedman in The New York Times. For decades, they all had the same boring, short cuts, but all of a sudden they’ve started generating controversy with their exotic barnets. Donald Trump led the way with his “incredibly complicated cream puff of a construction”. Then came Boris Johnson, with his artfully mussed platinum locks. And now Tony Blair has outdone them both by appearing on television with a luxuriant mullet. The former prime minister was discussing Scottish independence in his ITV interview last week, but few paid attention to his words. All anybody wanted to talk about was his silver mane. Comparisons on social media ranged from Gandalf to Doctor Who to David Icke, to an unspecified member of Genesis, and Vigo the Carpathian, a bloodthirsty sorcerer from Ghostbusters II. Some asked whether it heralded a comeback tour by Blair’s university band Ugly Rumours.

Mock all you like, said Amanda Platell in the Daily Mail. As far as I’m concerned, Blair’s new look is “damned hot”. It makes me want to run my fingers through his hair. With his strong cheekbones and high brow, Blair can more than carry off the style. Indeed, it’s a shame that more men don’t let their hair grow a bit. I despair of my many male friends “who went wild and untamed through the pandemic” only to revert “back to nondescript office-job haircuts as soon as the salons re-opened”. Longer hair can make chaps look more manly and youthful.

Perhaps if they’re Brad Pitt it can, said Jo Ellison in the Financial Times, but there are very few other older men who can get away with sporting a “mane of wizard hair”. It just looks wrong. We’re accustomed to our leaders adopting a more relaxed style after leaving office. “A spot of sunshine, a gentle book tour, the chance to explore more idiosyncratic wardrobe choices, all these allow them to become real human beings rather than the pol-bots they have to be to do their job.” But there are limits to this informality, and long hair on old men definitely crosses the line. “No former prime minister should draw comparisons to Peter Stringfellow.”

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