For many pop stars, a new haircut is the calling card of individuality. In that highly controlled, infantalising environment, where all your needs are taken care of, it can be a much-needed from of expression.
Think about Taylor Swift’s recent bleached bob (Debbie Harry via Little J in Gossip Girl), a high fashion reinvention with punk aspirations; Justin Bieber’s dreadlocks, a questionable nod to black culture; and, of course, Britney Spears’s shaved head from 2007, which seemed like a desperate bid for independence.
Harry Styles’s long locks telegraphed his mental exit from One Direction. Wearing his hair like a member of an altogether different band (the Rolling Stones) suggested a bedroom door-slamming rebellion from the star-making machine.
And now he has had The Chop. His new hair is swept back and bouffant. We’re told it’s for a film role about the second world war. More than that, though, it seems to set the scene for a more mature solo venture. It’s a look that says: “I’m no longer on my gap year. I’m ready for business.”