Fashion Writer Hannah Rochell on her life long obsession with 'The Rachel'.
The headline of this feature is a little misleading because when InStyle asked me to write the piece, I think they were under the impression that I had got myself a 1990s-esque Rachel cut deliberately. I had not. It might be more accurate to call this article ‘my life in accidental Rachel cuts’, because that’s what’s actually been happening for the past two decades.
Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE Jennifer Aniston’s hair. At the height of Friends’ popularity, I couldn’t watch an episode unless I’d washed my hair a couple of hours earlier, otherwise the mere sight of her luscious locks made my inferior highlights feel lank and I’d have to have an emergency shower. Every time I visited the hairdresser I took a picture of Jen with me in the hope that they would recreate her honey tresses on my own head, only for me to emerge looking like I was wearing my own boring hair, or, for a brief period when we nearly cracked it, Cat Deeley’s hair. Eventually, around the year 2000, I gave up on Jennifer and the highlights (note to self: great band name!) and took a picture of Natalie Imbruglia to the salon for a change. To my astonishment, I left with a Rachel cut.
That was the beginning of a string of accidental Rachels. I haven’t taken visual references of Jennifer Aniston to the hairdresser since the Imbruglia incident, but time and again I’ve ended up with various incarnations of her barnet when my aim was to get hair like someone else. That time I took images of Gwyneth Paltrow’s pob? I actually got Rachel’s bob from season 7. Alexa Chung’s choppy shoulder-length hair? Reimagined by the man with the scissors as an Aniston beach wave, which I loved, but wasn’t at all what I’d planned.
Last week, after growing my hair so long that the dog kept sitting on it and also coming to the realisation that Melania Trump has ruined balayage for the world, I decided it was time for a serious chop. Armed with pictures of Rose Byrne, Claudia Winkleman and the fashion blogger Megan Ellaby - note readers, these are all people with FRINGES - I emerged with a shoulder-length, layered do that can only be described as not just a Rachel, but THE Rachel; the cut infamously created by Aniston’s stylist Chris McMillan (I say infamously because Jennifer hated it as it was so high maintenance), albeit with the addition of a fringe.
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Fellow Aniston enthusiasts will know that there have been Jennifer fringes, but they usually go with a longer, straighter cut. I have to admit, I’m not totally on board with my Rachel yet - it’s a couple of inches shorter than my (incredibly clear) instructions and I can’t get used to the bounciness - but once it’s settled in I think it’s going to look OK. Have you realised that I’m a hair control freak yet by the way?
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Anyway, let’s around to the point of this feature - why I got the Rachel update. Although the truth is that it was utterly by accident, I think the answer is also that it’s the hairstyle that is always en vogue. All of those other people whose hair I was trying to emulate actually had versions of Jennifer Aniston’s hair in one way or another, only she did it first. Because Jen is and always will be, millions of women’s ultimate hairspiration, a hair trailblazer, able to transcend ages and decades, and I’m never going to complain when someone says my hair looks like hers, whether it was my intention or not.