’70s hair in ‘American Hustle’

From left: Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Jennifer Lawrence.
From left: Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Jennifer Lawrence.(Francois Duhamel/Sony-Columbia Pictures via ap)

For the same reason we wouldn't judge a book by its cover, we wouldn't judge a movie by the hair of its characters. But we might have to make an exception for "American Hustle."

Judging from the trailer, the film, about a long-ago FBI investigation into political corruption, is something of an homage to the awesome hairstyles of the 1970s. Magnificently coiffed are its stars Jennifer Lawrence, Jeremy Renner, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale, who, says New York Times movie critic Manohla Dargis, has a "torturously complicated comb-over that he arranges with the fastidiousness of a Michelin-starred pastry chef."


Because "American Hustle" was shot in and around Boston, we wondered who handled the hair. The answer is a lot of people, all of them overseen by hair-department head Katherine Gordon and director David O. Russell, who was very specific about what he wanted the characters to look like. (Aside from Bale's impressive comb-over, Lawrence has a lovely bouffant, Bradley Cooper rocks righteous curls worthy of a young Barbra Streisand, and many of the extras have sideburns, mustaches, or some sort of chin spinach.)

"He's very particular about every style and color," says Kristen Barry, a Boston-based stylist who colored Adams and Renner's hair for the movie. "He wanted it to look like it looked in his mind. And he's very fast-paced. Everything is happening, moving. I knew this was something special because it was very intense."

During the three months of filming, Barry and the other stylists, including local Stephen Bruno, worked out of Patrice Vinci's Newbury Street salon. Sometimes, we're told, the male leads would spend up to three hours getting their hair and makeup done.

"The people who style for the movies are brilliant," says Vinci. "An awful lot of thought goes into what they're doing. And hair is a very big part of this movie."


If, as seems likely, "American Hustle" becomes a hit, some who worked on the film think it's possible that 1970s hairstyles and clothing will once more be in vogue.

"Oh yeah," says Barry. "I do think this could be trendsetting. Pieces of this, the hair and the look, could be popular."