March 14, 2024

We Came, We Saw, We Got An Italian Bob

Since its reappearance in season two of White Lotus, the Italian Bob has been spotted on a number of celebrities.

It is a year of plundering for Italian style, which may not be such a bad thing, as beauty and fashion have largely exhausted the French for decades. Since its reappearance in season two of White Lotus on the effortlessly sexy Simona Tabasco as Lucia, the “Italian Bob”—also known as the “Italiano” or the “Italian Chic”—has been spotted on a number of celebrities such as Hailey Bieber, Gigi Hadid, Kaia Gerber, Lori Harvey, and Kylie Jenner.

Kylie Jenner Courtesy of Instagram

There have been a dizzying amount of trending bobs in the last few years alone—so what makes this iteration of the wildly popular chop so special? It has a few key features that align well with the current “mob wife aesthetic” craze and, more importantly, it suits nearly anyone’s features. 

A hairstyle you can’t refuse

A little past the chin or mid-neck, the Italian Bob is still long enough to be pulled and worn back. For those afraid of a big chop, it’s a good option, as it’s not so short and won’t take very long to grow out. Its main feature is its enviable volume, a mainstay of the Italian bombshell look. In fact, the style was made popular by 60s Italian icons singer Rafaella Carra and actress Sophia Loren. Their carefree yet glamorous look was refreshing after the complex styles of the 40s and 50s.

The Italian Bob is versatile and can be styled straight or as more of a textured look in a deep side part. The addition of bangs is entirely optional, but can certainly be flattering as well. Actually, it’s so easy to style that it hardly requires any maintenance at all, something the wake-up-and-go girls will appreciate. Running your hand or a brush through it is enough to bring glamor to a pair of jeans or a more formal look.

Hailey Bieber Courtesy of Instagram

To achieve this cut, former Creative Director of Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salons and Spas Colin Lively says “the length has to be precise and the layers need to be vertical layers, not horizontal.” Too many layers and it ends up being a shaggy French Bob and too little lends the cut more of a 1920s Bob look. It’s always good to bring reference photos to a hair appointment and to be specific about what you’re looking for.

Though it’s possible to wear The Italian Bob in a middle part, Lively underscores how striking a deep part can be. The part should be, “very low, with much of the hair swept to the opposite side away from the part, causing one side of the hair to become weighted heavier, which drops over the face…” The effect is one of youthfulness and allure.

Lori Harvey Courtesy of Instagram

The Italian wave

After decades as a stylist in the industry, he’s happy and not surprised to see The Bob come back into trend after many years of soft, beachy waves. He says basically anyone can pull it off as it is “the most versatile haircut there is. It works with children all the way to people in their 90s. Any type of hair is suited to a Bob haircut, whether it be fine straight hair, thich hair or curly hair.” So if you’re wanting a change, this cut is about the safest bet you have!

Though the clean-girl, minimalistic trend is hardly going anywhere, a secondary beauty movement has emerged in tandem, one that champions excess and maximalism. It’s easy to draw parallels between the craze for the Italian Bob and pop culture moments like White Lotus or the “mob wife aesthetic” on social media, but perhaps it’s more than its appearance, much like the women it idolizes.

Characters like Lucia in White Lotus and Carmela Soprano, the most famous of TV mob wives, sport voluminous hair and a level of power that few typical women will ever wield. Their male counterparts—mob bosses or multi-millionaires, a distinction some might argue is hazy—outpace them in power and influence, yet their appearance is what allows them to wrestle what they want from the men around them. 

Simona Tabasco in White Lotus

Hair, though often dismissed as frivolous, has long held great meaning. The Bob itself was a countercultural offensive against female constraints in the 1920s. Though it is a different variant, the Italian Bob still implicitly communicates defiance. After all, women taking ownership of and weidling sexuality is as rebellious an act as a flapper snubbing long locks. 

Maybe the rise of the “Italian Bob” and a love for glamorous, ostentatious Italian beauties is more than a shallow love for the aesthetic, but also stands staunch against the soft, coquettish cleanliness of the “clean girl”, refusing to be shrunken down.

Claire Stemen

Claire is a writer based in Seoul but originally from Cleveland, a very decent city. She is a fashion and beauty writer who got her start almost a decade ago at Paris and New York fashion weeks, where she covered shows, designers, and trends. The greatest sadness of her career was when she had to give her seat for the Jacquemus Spring 2017 show to someone else because she wasn't in town. She is also a published fiction writer, which is why she's so dramatic about everything.

Her work seeks to draw out the hidden functions of beauty and fashion—and what that says about culture. She believes the act of dressing oneself goes beyond mere expression and that the act of selecting a sock, earring, or lipstick is rife with meaning. She’s especially interested in the academic definition of “dress”.

Claire wakes up every day excited to experiment with beauty, fashion, and her sense of self. Her black cat Heathcliff wakes up excited to exact vengeance like his namesake in "Wuthering Heights".

If something she wrote made you feel something, you can direct your hot takes, fiery opinions, lukewarm criticism, and otherwise to The Territorie's comment section, her Instagram @claire_stemen, or via email at claire at clairestemen dot com.

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