Red Heads: A Fashion Movement

Having attended the opening of RED HOT – VIVID, an exhibition in London by Thomas Knight which celebrates the beauty of men with red hair, I experienced a fiery fashion moment.

Everywhere I turned my eyes fell upon large print portraits of handsome, masculine, chiseled and cool men who were clearly proud of their blushing locks. I should mention that all these men with their tops off was probably to blame for my own increasingly rosy cheeks. Forget Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s all about fifty shades of red at this pop-up gallery in the Seven Dials, Covent Garden area.

Knight’s campaign, which premiered in Shoreditch last December, is to ‘rebrand the ginger male stereotype’ and is in association with the Anti-Bullying Alliance. The response to the movement has been hugely positive, with beauty ideals and easy negative stereotypes challenged by both the press and the public.

Wandering around I think to myself, how could anybody mock people who possess such beauty in their hair colour? Sadly it does happen. Red heads get an awful lot of stick for being ‘ginger’, ‘a child of Satan’, ‘carrot top’, and ‘fire balls’ (I assume the latter is aimed at men?) Even the Greek Aristotle didn’t have a good opinion of redheads saying; ‘The reddish are of bad character’.

Whilst the fashion world has celebrated flame-haired females throughout history– from Aphrodite and Elizabeth I to Jessica Rabbit, Florence Welsh, Amy Adams and Karen Elson – there’s not much cheering for the scarlet sirs. None spring to my mind immediately apart from Homeland’s Damien Lewis and Prince Harry. I spy a portrait of a rugged Greg Rutherford and that bumps the count up to three, but there must be more.

I immediately go home to Google famous red-haired men and find an incredible list of men who are certainly red hot and who also deserve a style icon status. Here are five of the best:

  1. David Bowie shot to fame with his Ziggy Stardust mullet (okay it was a dye job but that cut and colour has become one of the most iconic looks in musical history). To prove it, Vogue Paris starred Kate Moss as Ziggy Stardust on the front cover of its December/2012 issue.
  2. Vincent Van Gogh painted many self portraits, depicting himself with a bright copper head of hair and a beard to match. A failure as an artist during his life, he is now considered one of the greatest artists of all time and his works inspired fashion brand Rodarte’s Spring 2012 collection.
  3. As well as a fearless freedom fighter, Malcolm X was a redhead, which he inherited from his Scottish grandmother. It earned him the name Detroit Red. His conservative style is iconic – browline glasses, black suits and skinny ties – and has been influenced the likes of Kanye West and Tinie Tempah.
  4. FYI, Michael Fassbender is a redhead, which comes out mostly on his beard. Being half Irish and all it’s no wonder he sports the flaming fuzz. Everyone admires Michael for his diverse and often controversial choice in film roles, and when it comes to his natural hair colour Michael has no shame. He’s one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood.
  5. Anyone who says redheaded men are wimps is wrong, as Mexican boxer Saul Alverez proves. The 23-year-old is known as El canelo which comes from the Spanaish word canela, meaning cinnamon. His professional boxing record is almost faultless. He’s won 43 out of 45 fights. A true champion.

To get your red hot fix, head to Covent Garden and go to Knight’s exhibition. You’ll be amazed at the shades and scale of the prints which are available to buy (the one-off prints are sure to become collectors’ items). RED HOT – VIVID is set to tour the world so the message of red-headed love can be spread far and wide.

RED HOT – VIVID is showing from 10 May to 1 June at:

4-10 Tower Street
Covent Garden

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