Like their wine, cheese, fashion and Johnny Hallyday, the French take their chignon very seriously. Before moving to France, I had assumed that a chignon was a fancy word for “bun”- the hair pulled back into a band, and then pinned under to make, well… a bun. It wasn’t until I started phoning hair salons in Paris for a friend who wanted to have her hair done for a wedding that I realized how naive I had been. The moment that I would tell the salon receptionist that I needed a chignon, her tone would immediately change, “Non! Zayre ees nobody who can do chignon here.”, or, “C’est pas possible, Pierre is zee only one who can do chignon and Thursdays ees his day off!” That was my first clue that a chignon a la française is a whole other ball game.
Bombée, tressé, néo-romantique, décoiffé or banane, the names of styles of the French chignon are as elaborate as the many variations of the style itself.