Rebekah Brooks knew what she was doing when she tamed that wild mane of red hair for her London court appearance over the Murdoch phone hacking drama.
Her signature shock of curls had been labelled in the media as ''distracting'' and ''boho'', apparently signalling she was non-conformist and considered herself above the rules - not a message she was keen to send when facing charges of perverting the course of justice.
Curls have associations - unfortunate in some circumstances (like an international scandal) but more often favourable, according to Australia's leading curl specialist, Kristianna Michaelides.
Michaelides would know. A hairdresser and educator, she sports a head of natural tight curls which she has learnt over the years to accept, to manage and exploit and enjoy.
''When I was little, with my two straight-haired sisters, when someone would meet us they'd say 'we can tell who the naughty one is','' says Michaelides. ''Curly-haired people are seen as mischievous, with a sense of humour. I associate curls with creativity. People with curls tend to be at ease with themselves - if they're not fighting their curls, they must be happy within themselves.''
For years curls were there to do battle with. Curly-haired people invariably wanted straight hair out of a very human sense of contrariness and also because there wasn't the information on how to manage curly hair, or the products, available. ''It's a generalisation but most people don't have a concept of how to style their hair. They've never been shown by another curly-haired person or never been inquisitive enough to discover how to do their hair or to embrace their curls,'' says Michaelides, whose email address includes the word ''curls'' not once but thrice.
In the Eighties, the only curls to have were wash'n'wear perms - which behave very differently to natural curls - and the only style was big, thanks to the limited choice of styling product - gel or mousse. Even curly-haired people had perms.
''Now people are working with their natural curl,'' says Jo Smith, owner of Toni&Guy at Georges Melbourne. ''There's definitely an illusion that curly hair is easy, that it's wash and leave it at that, but it takes as much work as straight hair.''
Indeed, Michaelides says her ringlets give her two options - ''wash and get it sorted or wear a hat''.
But there are lots of benefits to curly hair. Grey roots are hidden and disguised much longer because they're lifted from the head. Fine hair looks thicker. And it can be fun in its unpredictability. It's never boring.
''The hair's not the same every day,'' says Smith, who likes to create a louche curl in her baby-fine hair by sleeping in plaits. ''You can change it quite easily. Instead of having to get it cut, you can just change the way you style it so it looks and feels different. Curling tongs and straightening irons can change the curl from fine and frizzy. Tongs can control and define the curl.''
Crucial is a good cut. ''I tell my clients to go to the front desk and look for a curly-haired hairdresser,'' says Nathan Armagnacq, master technical director and salon partner of OscarOscar at Chadstone Melbourne.
''They know how to style it, they know how to wear it - they've had lots of disasters themselves.'' Smith says care must be taken with how curly hair is layered and with the length to avoid ''microphone head''. ''You've got to break it up,'' she says.
Armagnacq believes this is best done with colour. ''Abstract colour works beautifully. Scrunching in a lightener - not balayage as such - to get a sunkissed look helps with texture.'' Colourists need to be familiar with curls, too, as texture determines how the dye is formulated. Coarser hair doesn't take colour as well. And, Armagnacq says: ''People with curly hair tend to be more reserved - they'll stick to one colour or a few highlights. The curl is a statement on its own, really.''
And there's the rub. Curly hair makes a statement when sometimes the only sort of statement that's desired is: ''I belong; I blend in.''
''The downside of curly hair is that you can look 'not done' and not groomed, because of its unpredictability,'' says Smith. ''But hairdressers understand it a lot more and can work with it better than they did, say, 10 or 15 years ago when there was nothing to tame it down. Now there's moisture balancing shampoos and conditioners and you can work with serums and cream-based products, souffles and dry shampoos. Curly hair can look different every day and it can look great every day.''
Michaelides says the best thing about having curly hair is that it has personality. ''On the few occasions I go straight, people don't come up to me. Curly-haired people are really approachable, a little bohemian perhaps. They're interesting. They're people worth knowing.''
Top tips for curly hair:
- Seek a curly-haired stylist and get their recommendation for a good colourist. Curly hair needs capable hands.
- Don't wash your hair every day. It's easier to style when hair is not so clean.
- Use good quality moisturising shampoos and conditioners. Always use product to style.
- Play with curling tongs to achieve different types of curl. They're easy to use at home - just grab the hair and wrap it around.
- Partial perms are now being used creatively - a fringe or a below-ears line of wave, for example. Very Great Gatsby. Victoria Secret curls continue to fascinate.