Redhead Anthem Rock

“And our love is pastured such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues strong
But it’s always darkest before the dawn.”

- Florence Welch, “Shake It Out”

I feel like I should have titled this post “How to Dance If You’re a Redhead.” If the new Florence + The Machine music video is any indication, it should be with your hair, leading.

Florence Welch, for those of you who don’t know, is the British rocker behind Florence + The Machine. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing her perform live and I can report that her red hair is every bit as bright in person as it appears in her music videos. I first discovered Florence + The Machine in 2009 when she released her album “Lungs.” Since then, I’ve come to identify her as a confident redhead celebrity and vintage trendsetter.

Her latest music video, “Shake It Out,” is the sort video you want to see the redhead Festival in The Netherlands produce a crowd-sourced dance to — red hair worn long, wild, and elastic-free.

The “Shake It Out” video reminds me that redheads, with help from the likes of celebrities like Ms. Welch, have come to represent a turn-of-the-century vintage beauty in popular culture.

The video itself features a masquerade and pays homage to the late-19th century fascination with the mystic. It’s theatrical, whimsical, and further establishes Florence Welch’s attraction to all things vintage. The long black dress, gold dress, white dress, and even the long red dress she wears in the video all set off her pale skin and bright hair. I like to think her hair colour acted as a source of inspiration for the set director, wardrobe designer and even the choreographer.

Her new album, Ceremonials, is set to release in November 2011 and we’ll no doubt see more of Florence dancing with her beautiful red hair in the months ahead. You may not have the opportunity to dance to “Shake It Out’ in a night club anytime soon (if you do, let me know the name of the club) but I highly recommend it for those times when you dry your hair. Just hit “play” and let your red hair lead.

Vogue’s Redhaired Mermaid

Clad in Chanel and shot by Annie Leibovitz, Rihanni posed for her first U-S Vogue cover picture with her bottle-red locks. As I’ve said before, there isn’t a trace of “ginger” in Rihanni but I still think she wears the fire-engine red well. She’s six months into this new look and still going strong.

Vogue certainly pulled off the red haired mermaid look for their April, 2011 edition. Bottle or no, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a redhead on the cover of one of the most popular fashion magazines on the planet.

 

The Dalai Lama and the Red-Haired Devil

The San Antonio Museum of Art recently launched an exhibit for the Dalai Lama Foundation called “The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama.” One of the contributing artists has caught my eye.

Spanish artist Salustiano has depicted the Dalai Lama as a Chinese girl with red hair in a piece he’s titled “Reincarnation.”

Reincarnation" by artist Salustiano as shown at the SAN ANTONIO MUSEUM OF ART.

 

Just last week, the Tibetan spiritual leader announced he would give up his political role in Tibet’s government in order to make way for a new, elected leader. News of the announcement along with a photo of the Dalai Lama surrounded by a group of young monks circulated the globe. As one journalist put it, the Dalai Lama is often captured on camera as standing “illuminated by the suggestion of a smile.”

When I look at Salustiano’s Dalai Lama, I see a young girl with red hair who appears awake, hesitant, and a moment away from the suggestion of a smile. It’s an interesting interpretation; given the role redheads play in Asian culture, in general. Red hair is a sure sign that you’re a foreigner or an outsider. There is even a specific expression for “red haired people” in Singapore and throughout Malaysia: ang mo lang which is very close to ang mo kui or “red-haired devil.”

The only thing that’s devilish about the Dalai Lama, of course, is his wicked sense of humour. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

The Ginger Files: Stephanie LaCava

I’ve been in winter hibernation — digitally speaking.

On that note, here’s a delightful photo of redhead and Vanity Fair fashion writer, Stephanie LaCava. I first saw this photo on the fashion blog, Hanneli.com. I think it nicely captures the understated fashion and classic style that suits a redhead (Stephanie is wearing Stella McCartney, in case you’re curious.)

What Red Hair Has Done For Rihanna

For the last four weeks, redhead mentions on the web have been almost entirely dominated by Rihanna and the world’s reaction to her bottle-red tresses. I don’t think I can go any longer without commenting on the pop star’s new look. The music video for her single “Only Girl in the World” is due out soon and I have no doubt her new and temporary hair colour will have influenced the direction and style of the video. The album cover alone is dedicated to her hair, from the vintage blood-red dress to the Sting-like fields of gold. How country. How quaint.

Honestly?  I think she’s rocking the bottle-red. Margo Kaufman would argue that Rihanna never had to wear a t-shirt underneath her bathing suit. Although, I’m sure if anyone could pull that off in a fashionable manner, it would be Rihanna.

The truth is that real redheads don’t experience their hair colour as it relates to their style, fashion and sex appeal in the same, sensational way that Rihanna is experiencing it right now. There isn’t a trace of “ginger” in her new look. Her dark, brown skin in contrast to the clearly artificial hair colour has more in common with a Barbie doll that it does to any sort of redhead experience. But that doesn’t seem to stop her from commenting on her new look on the radio:

“Redheads have the most fun! And redheads have the most work too.”

Fun? Maybe. But “work?” All I can say is she must be listening to Bruce Springsteen. Because we all know “you ain’t lived ’til you’ve had your tires rotated by a red-headed woman.”

I can picture the photo opportunity, now: “pop star seen on the side of the highway with monkey wrench in hand.”

There’s nothing like a little elbow grease to encourage the redhead experience.

Redhead Rising on a Saturday Morning

The Globe and Mail recently rebooted the entire look of their paper, putting extra special attention into their Saturday Style section which was long overdue for a new look and better content.

Just two editions in and redheads are already gracing it’s pages. There’s always a conversation to be had when a redhead is around. When in doubt, ask us how we feel about being asked about our red hair.

Our Day Will Come: The Search For Ginger Salvation

If the title is any indication, the new movie by French director Romain Gavras,  “Our Day Will Come,” was preceded by an extremely elaborate trailer.

Five months ago, Gavras released the controversial MIA music video he directed, “Born Free.” If you have yet to acquaint yourself with this video, you can get the low-down here. At one point in the video, a mural appears that depicts three redheaded soldiers holding guns below a banner that reads “Our Day Will Come.”

The movie, Our Day Will Come premiered at Toronto’s International Film Festival last week. It’s the story of a young boy and his teacher and their journey from France, where people with red hair are treated as social outcasts, to Ireland.  Intriguing, no? Especially now, when we can make the connection between the new movie and Gavras’ music video five months earlier.

In an interview with the CBC, Gavras described why he chose redheads:

“I use gingers as the oppressed people because they’re a visible minority, but they have no community, which is interesting to me,” says Gavras. “They’re kind of a good symbol for what it is to be different. It’s more about people being different from the rest of the world, and being frustrated. Extreme violence can be a product of that.”

A couple of quick notes on Gavras, himself. He’s 29 years-old, the son of French director Constantinos Gavras, and easy on the eyes. It will be interesting to see if Gavras continues to reference redheads in future work as part of a larger story that speaks to visible minorities.

Born Free: Ginger Discretion is Advised

Born Free, an MIA music video, was released in late April, 2010, removed from Youtube the same day, re-posted with an age restriction and pulled again the next day.

Boingboing describes the video, directed by Romain Gavras, as a “global ginger jihad.”

Of course, I don’t think this video is really about rounding up redheaded boys and injecting them with as much fear as possible before a violent death, but it’s produced with enough authenticity to make you think it is.

Whether it had to do with the current political climate in the States (the video was released right around the time new immigrant identification legislation was introduced in the state of Arizona) or it heralds back to MIA’s Sri Lankan roots (her father is Tamil), “Born Free” is about visible minorities and obscene violence. There isn’t one element in this video that isn’t designed to provoke a reaction, from the naked couple having sex in bed before being pulled from the sheets and beaten or the old man smoking crack cocaine, to the climactic and bloody end.

Here’s a quick summary care of The Guardian, in case you want to skip the video altogether:

“Here, in summary, is the basis of this year’s version of a controversial super-violent short film/promo for a new single: a set of grim looking policemen are conducting raids on grimmer-looking blocks of flats and targeting only young men with ginger hair. These men are rounded up, put in armoured buses, and taken away.

There is a suggestion that there is some kind of movement to resist this state-controlled ginger-genocide, but whatever it is, we only see a glimpse of it in this film. Anyway, when the red-headed young men arrive at their destination – a desert – they’re told to run for their lives, into the sunset. And when they pause, one of them (the youngest) is shot point blank in the head.Here, in summary, is the basis of this year’s version of a controversial super-violent short film/promo for a new single: a set of grim looking policemen are conducting raids on grimmer-looking blocks of flats and targeting only young men with ginger hair. These men are rounded up, put in armoured buses, and taken away. There is a suggestion that there is some kind of movement to resist this state-controlled ginger-genocide, but whatever it is, we only see a glimpse of it in this film. Anyway, when the red-headed young men arrive at their destination – a desert – they’re told to run for their lives, into the sunset. And when they pause, one of them (the youngest) is shot point blank in the head. “

Viewer discretion is totally required. Nudity, sex, blood, guns and murder are all depicted in this video. As Billboard.com puts it, “watch Born Free at your own risk.”

Best to Keep the Gingers Behind Bars

A friend just sent me this gem from Unhappy Hipsters.

On the off-chance that you live in a cave with remote access to clever things, Unhappy Hipsters is a blog that takes images from the architecture and design magazine, Dwell, and offers captions about the people in the photo.

No doubt the caption’s author could resist passing up a reference to “gingers.” Hipster culture is all the more “unhappy” for it.

www.unhappyhipsters.com