The most hair-raising comeback ever! The return of THE 80S MULLET
It was a crime against good taste, loved by footballers and cheesy celebrities. So what on earth has sparked its unlikely revival?
As a respectable GP working on an army base in the village of Bovington, Dorset, Dr alastair Bush would normally expect to follow certain rules.
Order is strictly enforced in the military and there are policies in place when it comes to discipline, manners and appearance.
But there is one rule Dr Bush is happy to flout — and he does so with unashamed flamboyance.
For the past two years he has been growing a thick, tawny mullet, cascading down his back in luscious, free-flowing curls.
While his young patients have watched on in envy, the 45-yearold doc’s mullet — now an impressive 30cm — has become the talking point of the base. But it won’t be here for much longer.
In two weeks alastair and his novelty hairstyle will travel 10,600 miles to Kurri Kurri, a small town two hours’ north of sydney, australia. The reason? Mulletfest, a global event in which more than 8,000 competitors vie for the coveted title of Best Mullet — and where alastair, who’s using the challenge to raise money for Testicular Cancer UK, hopes to bring the medal home for Britain.
It is, no matter how you look at it, an utterly ridiculous feat and perhaps even more ridiculous that pictures of alastair’s flowing mullet have made headlines in almost every national paper this week.
as he puts it: ‘It’s a fairly low bar to enter. all I’ve had to do is grow my hair.’
But this rural GP’s journey to fully-fledged mullet-wearer has captured something of a phenomenon in modern grooming.
For his is far from the only mullet being proudly sported on the streets of Britain. From catwalks to classrooms — with a particular boom among teenage schoolboys who are flocking to barbers in their droves with old pictures of David Bowie and Jason Donovan on their smartphones — mullets are everywhere you look.
with mullets have been spotted on the runways in london and Milan, gracing the collections of designers including stella McCartney, Dolce & Gabbana and alexander McQueen. Young actresses including emilia schule — who recently starred as French queen Marie antoinette — have also been experimenting with the look.
The style that launched a thousand 80s hair disasters has been taken on by TV heartthrobs, too: Normal People’s Paul Mescal sported one on the Bafta red carpet this year and Dacre Montgomery, who played Billy in the hit Netflix series stranger Things, has been credited with single-handedly making the mullet cool again.
Hair salons the Mail spoke to — from exeter to edinburgh — say they’ve seen a surge in requests from clients, with one senior barber cutting more mullets in the last two years than she has in the past two decades.
Online, interest in the retro look is booming: on video- sharing platform TikTok there are more than 10 billion views for the term ‘mullet’ while Google recorded 2.24 million searches for it worldwide in the past 12 months.
For what is, frankly, an awful throwback, there’s a lot of love out there for the mullet. so what’s behind this bizarre obsession?
Renowned hairdresser George Northwood, who counts Rachel Weisz, alexa Chung and alicia Vikander among his a-list clients, says it’s a ‘ quintessential style’, reminiscent of ‘hair icons’ such as Debbie Harry and Bowie as Ziggy stardust. ‘I have seen an uptick in clients referencing mullet-type cuts, such as shags or seventies and eighties styles,’ he tells the Mail. ‘This built since we reopened after lockdown.
‘Our clientele are into the much more wearable, less severe take on the trend, with flattering layers and a statement fringe. My clients don’t use the terminology “mullet”. They say they want it a bit long, but a bit short, choppier, with more layers and shaggier.’
George, who admits to once having a mullet himself (complete with extensions) says the ‘undone approach’ is popular as it means fewer trips to the hairdresser.
‘It’s much more forgiving and looks more effortless and wearable when it’s grown out slightly.’
This low-maintenance aspect appealed to the aptly-named Dr Bush, who started his mullet mission in the summer of 2021, when his usual hairdresser was closed during lockdown. ‘My nephew and his friends from school started growing mullets when they couldn’t get a trim, and one Christmas we were chatting and looking on the internet when I came across this competition,’ he explains. ‘ It looked like a lot of fun.’
as someone who’d always had a sensible short-back-and- sides, it wasn’t the feat itself that concerned him, but the attitudes of friends and work colleagues.
‘My hair’s quite thick so I wasn’t worried about being able to do it, it was more about whether I could endure the look for so long,’ he explains, adding: ‘My male friends like it but my female friends are generally less enthusiastic. There seems to be quite a strong gender divide when it comes to mullet appreciation. That said, a lot of girls are jealous of my curls.
‘My mother hates it. The first and last thing she says to me when I see her is, “Please tell me you will cut it off”. Thankfully I work with a lot of young soldiers, mainly in their twenties, and they find the mullet funny. I wouldn’t have grown it if I had regular patients.’
He admits his haircare routine has got a lot more complicated.
‘Previously it involved a bit of Tresemme and that was it. Now I use shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & shine conditioner then Hask argan Oil [Repairing
Hair Oil] followed by either Pantene Perfect Waves or aunt Jackie’s Don’t shrink Gel.
‘Having long hair has given me a much better understanding of all the effort girls with long hair go to. Brushing out tangles in the shower is something I won’t miss.’
But he says he’s also reaped the rewards — ‘the guy who cuts it does the front two-thirds only, not the back, so I get my haircut cheaper’ — not to mention raising more than £1,500 for the testicular cancer charity, a plight he is passionate about raising awareness of, given his young male patients.
Many of them would, were they not barred by army regulations, get a mullet themselves — being of the age at which an ‘ironic’ hairstyle is very du jour. For walk into any sixth form centre or school playground today and you’ll spot boys aged 11 to 18 showing off ‘dos their father would have been proud of 40-odd years ago.
Charlotte Clemons’ 14-year- old