One wig to rule them all. One wig to find them. One ring to bring them all and in darkness bind them. (Image: Tina Tiller)
One wig to rule them all. One wig to find them. One ring to bring them all and in darkness bind them. (Image: Tina Tiller)

MediaAugust 20, 2021

Tracing the pop culture origins of Lorde’s ‘Mood Ring’ wig

One wig to rule them all. One wig to find them. One ring to bring them all and in darkness bind them. (Image: Tina Tiller)
One wig to rule them all. One wig to find them. One ring to bring them all and in darkness bind them. (Image: Tina Tiller)

The Spinoff’s resident wig correspondent Sam Brooks investigates those wavy blonde tresses that are showing up everywhere right now.

‘Mood Ring’ has to be my favourite single thus far off Lorde’s new album. While both ‘Solar Power’ and ‘Stoned at the Nail Salon’ had the occasional line that would’ve been plastered across moody Tumblr pictures nary five years ago, ‘Mood Ring’ is chock full of them, delivered with the same smirk as ordering different drinks in the same bar, cutting teeth on jewellery and talking it up tennis courts like yeah.

But the line that sticks out to me the most is “can’t seem to fix my mood, today it’s as dark as my roots”. In the video for the the song, which continues Solar Power’s Midsommer-meets-GOOP vibe, we see the root-maintenance she is alluding to. Lorde plays the centre of a loose-clothing-wearing, tightly-choreographed coven, arranging stones, messing around with ice buckets, and also wearing a conspicuous long blonde wig. 

Now, Lorde is both our most famous pop star and our most famous brunette, give or take an Ardern. So, to quote Lorde’s fellow 4 Non-Blondes: “Hey-ey-ey-ey, what’s going on?”

What captured my interest (or concern) was not that Lorde was suddenly non-brunette, but that I’d seen that wig, or some wig like it, somewhere else.

After a while, I realised: I’d seen it on another Australasian head.

Nicole Kidman is famous for three things. One, being Nicole Kidman. Two, that staged paparazzi photo of her leaving her lawyer’s office after divorcing Tom Cruise. Three, for wearing wigs in pretty much every project she works on.

There’s a good reason for wanting to be bewigged if you shoot as many films and TV shows as Nicole Kidman does. For pure logistical reasons, it means that there’s much less time spent in hair and makeup, and if any reshoots are required, it means she doesn’t have to redye or recut her (famously red, though dyed blonde for a time) hair to accommodate them.

However, Nicole Kidman is in a lot of productions. Her latest, Nine Perfect Strangers, is her third limited series in five years, and she’s been in 12 films over that period. That’s 15 completely different wigs. One wig, fool me once. Fifteen wigs? You’ve can’t pull the lace front over my eyes, Nicole Adultlady. I see you, and I see what’s on your head. 

Her wig as wellness guru Masha in Nine Perfect Strangers makes sense, much more so than her Russian accent. It immediately tells you who the character is: she’s not exactly Gwyneth Paltrow, but they definitely share an energy healer. Who knows what plans she has for the titular nine strangers? We don’t know. What we can say for sure is that she’s spent a lot of time trying to get that delicate wave in her hair just right, despite her mop still looking like it’s spent a good 30 seconds in a Fisher and Paykel appliance.

But this isn’t the only time I’ve seen this wig this year. In fact, I’ve seen it in something much closer to home. Something a bit… creamy.

Tandi Wright as Lane in Creamerie

Ta-da! It’s our very own Tandi Wright in Creamerie. Wright plays Lane, the guru-like leader of a repopulation organisation that seems to function as a pseudo-government after a virus has wiped out the entire male population. Wright is brilliant in the role: her calm gentility and unnerving coldness radiate both “Avon lady” and “open plan office CEO”. You never doubt for a second that this woman could captivate whatever remains of the world’s population, and she’ll sell you collagen powder while she’s doing it.

Wright’s performance is brilliant and layered, but we get what she’s selling immediately just by looking at that hair. How does one keep their hair that silky smooth after the apocalypse? Suspicious! (Mild spoilers: Lane is, uh, definitely suspicious). But shocking news: Dana Wilton, the head of Creamerie’s makeup department, reveals that it was not a wig at all. “Tandi’s hair was heavily highlighted,” she says.“We wanted a bright Californian blonde shade for the show. We didn’t use a wig or any hair extensions.”

She confirms the look was inspired by Gwyneth Paltrow, and the idea came from the writers. In her opinion, the look is popping up on screen everywhere because of Paltrow, the prominence of her GOOP brand, and the subsequent Netflix show. Since then, it’s become a look associated with wealth, wellness and white privilege. “Long blonde, expertly balayaged (free-hand painting of highlights onto hair) hair can be very expensive, and looks expensive too.” 

Gwyneth Paltrow in The GOOP Lab

So what do these characters all have in common? That weird, Instagram-friendly, sense of wellness. The idea of looking well, rather than being well. A sense of being just slightly more than human, while also being frustratingly attainable. ‘Mood Ring’ makes fun of this idea, Nine Perfect Strangers makes a thriller out of it, and Creamerie sits betwixt the two.

But there’s one wig that sits before, and behind, all of these other wigs. The progenitor wig. The mother-wig.

You might even say: One wig to rule them all.

All hail the mother-wig.

Before there was a dark (haired) Lorde, there was a queen. Of course, Galadriel is the aesthetic and spiritual goal of wellness here. She’s an 8,371 year old being with nary a wrinkle on her face. She lives in a tranquil forest, surrounded by gentle streams and bugless flora, worshipped by people who look a lot like her but just slightly worse. Her accent reveals nothing about where she’s from, but does tell you that she’s better than you.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what wellness is? Being slightly better than somebody else? Well done, hairstylists and wig artists. You absolutely nailed it.

Related:

This is not the Lorde album anyone was expecting: Solar Power, reviewed

Review: Nine Perfect Strangers is neither perfect nor strange enough

Review: Creamerie is the post-pandemic comedy we need right now

Mad Chapman, Editor
The Spinoff has covered the news that matters in 2021, most recently the delta outbreak. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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