Photographer, curator and all around wondergirl Petra Collins is a perennial Glasshouse favourite. She has been behind the camera on some of our most pored-over campaigns in recent memory, and also happens to be in possession of one of the coolest hairdos around.
Petra has had a whirlwind few years. She initially rose to prominence as one of the creative minds behind the now-mighty Rookie, an online magazine for teen girls established by fellow Glasshouse muse Tavi Gevinson. From there she has only moved from strength to strength, quickly becoming one of the art and fashion worlds’ most in-demand names.
This is due in no small way to her strikingly distinctive aesthetic (soft light, lots of pastels, often taking other young women as her subjects and muses) and fiercely feminist attitude. In 2011, she founded The Ardorous, an online platform showcasing and promoting the work of women artists. In 2015, she curated Babe, a physical collection of images created by artists featured on the site. Speaking to Dazed, she noted the importance of spaces like these: “You can walk into a museum like the Met or MoMA and less than five per cent of the work is created by women, not to mention women of colour […] It’s hard for us to see a place in society where there is space to produce and share ideas of our own.”
We love Petra’s firm endorsement of other women artists, and her willingness to speak up and be bold is reflected in her unique approach to her own hair - her seventies-esque centre part and curls have become something of a trademark in a sea of sleek long bobs. It also got the high fashion seal of approval from Gucci when she walked in their AW16 Milan show proudly sporting her signature style.
We’re coveting curls in a big way here at Glasshouse right now - we recently profiled the shaggy hair trend and mused over Jodie Foster’s enviable ’do in Taxi Driver. We also encouraged clients to embrace their natural hair texture in our most recent Masterclass post, and we think Petra does this amazingly. Though it’s hardly surprising from a woman famous for posting photos of her pimples on Instagram, her curls always look totally natural, though they’re given some extra oomph by her sharp centre parting. Elsewhere, her personal style tends to keep it simple - she’s more likely to be seen in a silky slip than in haute couture, allowing her always-big hair to be the star of the show.
Falling somewhere in between awkward 90’s high school teen and retro porn star, Petra’s one-of-a-kind hair aesthetic is indicative of the wide ranging, intelligent references she incorporates into her work as an artist. As part of the new generation of a post-Internet artists, Petra grew up with the entire world and all of pop culture history at her fingertips. Her practice indicates this, as it deftly integrates allusions to the past and the present, often side by side. We love that her own look - particularly her throwback hairstyle - embodies this too.
With her progressive, pro-girl attitude and her ability to fuse familiar elements of the old to come up with something completely new, Petra Collins has established herself as a force to be reckoned with. It’s always exciting to see woman artists as engaged and original as her rising to prominence - especially when their hair is this good.
Cover photo: Oyster
Words: Lauren O’Neill