Chic Chignon

Who knew that a single hairstyle could make headlines and send women to the mirrors to style their own coiffure in a similar fashion? That’s just what happened when soon-to-be Princess, or more accurately Duchess, Meghan Markle styled her strands into a messy bun.

Websites and magazines called it "relatable," "groundbreaking" and a "celebrity in its own right." The look was simple and understated, with a casual elegance that payed homage to her California roots. Why the continued talk about her hair? Perhaps it is the fact that such casual simplicity is unexpected from someone walking out of the palace. Or the fact that it is easily attainable by women across the world with just a twist, hair tie and a few bobby pins.
Queen Elizabeth I in Coronation Gowns 
Meghan is not the first lady in the public eye to make a buzz with hair choices. Queen Elizabeth I of England was known for her fiery locks. In the 16th century a girl could not grab a box of Clairol or Revlon dye to get the desired color. She could, however, mimic the hair style embraced by the Queen.
The Darnley Portrait, 1575
Known for many things, including growing an empire and cultivating the arts, Queen Elizabeth I was also known for her style. Gowns encrusted with precious gems and pearls, fabrics laced with gold threads...nothing was out of reach for her. Her regal appearance was furthered by a high forehead. 
Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I in Elizabeth: The Golden Age
She popularized the practice of plucking the hairline to lengthen the forehead. Even though her signature color could not be easily obtained, you can bet that all the ladies of the court were plucking their own hairlines.
Marie Antoinette, Anonymous

When discussing leading ladies setting trends, the conversation is incomplete without Marie Antoinette. Marie arrived to the shores of France in 1770. During her time as the Dauphine and later Queen of France, she quickly became known for her extravagant tastes. From the style of her dress, to the height of her hair pouf, there was always something to admire, and of course copy. 
Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun, 1778
For a night to the opera, her hair may have been adorned with a ship, bows or figurines. A woman's hair quickly became a communication platform for women to provide commentary on current events, opinions and moods. 
 Duchess of Devonshire by Joshua Reynolds, 1775
During the same time period, the Duchess of Devonshire was making fashion headlines across the channel in England. As depicted in the film and book, The Duchess, Georgiana embraced the towering curls, feathers, ribbons and whatever other knick knacks may be required to set a new trend.   
The stories of these women showcase the nature of trend setting. Whether it’s a new hair accessory, choice of curls or a California-style chignon, hair can make headlines and add to the cultural conversation.