From Rihanna to Theresa May, the marches frames the face and is now projecting assertiveness

Rihanna shows off her tawny coloured fringe.
Rihanna shows off her tawny stain fringe.
Photograph: PJP photos/REX/Shutterstock

Wearing a deconstructed, caramel-coloured Craig Green cover, cream-coloured Balenciaga power heel boots and a leather lace-up bodysuit, Rihanna worked at the V Festival at the weekend. Topping off this nomadic, Game Of Thrones-ish look, her fraction, a lob featuring a tawny-coloured fringe, was worn like a metaphorical affray helmet.

Stevie Nicks’ curly fringe in 1979.
Stevie Nicks’ curly fringe in 1979. Photograph: Charles Knight/REX/Shutterstock

This year, the margin has denoted one thing: power and transition. It’s the unfussy haircut that Fall ills Things Done. In the UK, it’s our version of the American no-nonsense “big hair” that proposes both political acumen and economical style. Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon each has a semi border (May has a complicated fringe-with-a-side-parting while Sturgeon’s is brushed out wispily upstairs the eyes).

In the world of celebrity, the fringe has denoted comebacks and autonomy. Selena Gomez came one as she reasserted herself post-Justin Bieber and as a post-Disney popstar while Ariana Grande fatigued one, post donut-licking gate, to indicate her good girl formed bad status. Real Housewives fixture Bethenny Frankel got a perimeter and, indicating its transformative power, announced the haircut indicated “the summer of carte blanche”.

Nico in 1968.
Nico in 1968. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives

With its plain-spoken finish and precise edging, the hairstyle has historically represented a irrefutable independence paired with an adaptability and decisiveness – from the favourite image of Cleopatra to pin up star Bettie Page through to Anna Wintour and Uma Thurman in Pap Fiction. Thanks to the way it sits there is something powerful back the way it pulls you towards the face.

But the fringe has another meaning. It’s the look of the wallflower who eats it as a cloak of invisibility. Bat For Lashes has called her fringe a “black nocturnal defend”, useful for times when you “don’t want to look at people”. This shy, verging-on-innocent, look is something that has been referenced by the withs of Doris Day, Jane Birkin, Velma from Scooby Doo and Stevie Police stations. Interesting too, is the semaphoring indicated by those who have referenced both sides of the rouche coin, a troubled innocence turned into power (Nico, Dusty Springfield, Ronnie Spector). As character of her kinderwhore style, Courtney Love in Hole deconstructed this apprehension. She mixed a fringe with subversive takes on babydoll upbraids, knee length school socks and tiaras.

This year, the edge is no longer about hiding, it’s the Alpha, assertive cut that’s far being fully present and in complete control.