In terms of fashion nostalgia, TikTok is a weird place. It's clear that as the Y2K revival hits a fever pitch, trendsetters are getting tired of the early aughts, and are setting their sights on the divisive "Indie Sleaze" era of the late 2000s and early 2010s. But they're skipping over something else entirely, that period of time between 2004-2009ish that doesn't yet have a TikTok-y neat and tidy name, but was iconic nonetheless.
We're talking "boho," before it evolved into cultural-appropriation Coachella cosplay. Not just feathers and paisley, it had a bit of a harder edge—it-girls like Kate Moss, Chloë Sevigny, a young Alexa Chung, and of course, the Olsen twins draped themselves in an eclectic mix of studs, fur, and leather. It was the days when stylists were reserved for the red carpet, and truly personal style was on full display.
More was more, especially when it came to accessories—it wasn't uncommon for a large belt, floppy boot, vintage bag, and weird hat to feature equally prominently in a single outfit. It was glamorous, insanely cool, and always a little undone—think Mary Kate's beloved beat-up Balenciaga City bag as the pinnacle of this look.
The beauty that accompanied these outfits was just as much a balance of maximalism and messiness and usually nodded to a night-out chain smoking and dancing. Staples included minimal foundation—if any at all—smudged, dark eyeliner, and a very specific shade of blonde I've dubbed "Glastonbury blonde" in honor of the festival these women stumbled around in knee-high wellies.
Like their overall style, this shade was all about balance. It looks purposefully bright—in other words, expensive—yet sort of natural and streaky, like it had been kissed by the sun. The brightness was often contrasted with a deeper root to stave off any preciousness, and, most importantly, it looked its best when it was a little unkempt.
According to celebrity colorist Jenna Perry, who counts current-day Ashley Olsen and Chloë Sevigny as clients, the popularity of this color comes down to one thing: "Kate Moss made it popular, and she is a fashion icon," she tells Byrdie. Matt Rez, a celebrity colorist and Redken Brand Ambassador, agrees that this was a trend set by celebs, crediting Moss' '90s roots as a catalyst for the shade.
"Not sure if this look was a trend set by choice, but I believe it had a little rollover of the '90s grunge vibe to it where chunkier highlights on bumped/smudged base colors melted together for an all-over illuminated blonde," he says. "[This era was] the time where there was subtle dimension and not much-intended root shadowing going on. I still see it happening, but I feel like most people come in wanting to get rid of what they consider as brass."
Perry agrees that this shade is sort of eternal, but has been overshadowed by more realistic techniques in recent years. "I don’t think this shade ever went away, but I do think that it has been overseen with balayage and a more natural style of blonde taking the reins over the past decade."
As for if it will come back, Rez is on the fence. "I’m not 100% confident that people want the maintenance of a root smudge every four to six weeks," he says. "Also, this look oxidizes and turns brassy way quicker than a more neutral base color in between highlights." He adds that it's a lot of upkeep given the high contrast and that there will be a harsh grow out at the roots.
Perry, on the other hand, says this look is primed for a comeback since it's a universal blonde shade—especially given the brewing nostalgia for this era. To get the look in a modern way, she suggests "asking for a lot of highlights, especially around the face, and to keep it very rooty."
Rez also suggests adding a midlight to your blonde if you want the same vibe in an updated way. "A midlight is the warmer connecting color between a highlight and your base color," he says. "It allows for a much smoother transition as your new growth comes in. The midlight will bring in a subtle amount of warmth to the overall look without overpowering the highlights." He then says to ask for a gloss like Redken's Shades EQ Gloss for healthy shine and multi-dimensional color.
I, for one, am all for this shade making a comeback. Not only am I into the overall vibe of this era—though make no mistake, I absolutely am—there's something refreshing about the deliberate messiness of this color. It's the polar opposite of the "clean girl" aesthetic being hurled at me every time I open TikTok and the bouncy blowouts that exploded last summer. It suggests there's real fun to be had outside of a phone. While I hope that's the case, at least my hair can set the tone.