Renata switches to short

One of Scott Schuman's (The Sartorialist) favourite subjects, Italian stylist and journalist Renata Molho, 59, has cut her hair. Renata is widely admired for her elegant/careless look, a sort of Mediterranean Jane Birkin.

Above, Renata in her long mane, the classic mature Italian woman's flag, ca. 2006.

Another shot, in Feb. 2007: long hair, big glasses, flat boot.

In a p
hoto published this month on The Sartorlalist, she's had a cut. Looks like a wavy bob, uncoloured. And similar coat (or is it the same?) to '07's; she doesn't feel the need to change her cocoa-over-cream combo.

It's interesting to see how a different hairstyle changes nearly the same attire.

What is your impression of her in the long hair, and then with the short?


La Loca said…
I think the bob is definitely a more mature, polished look, whereas the long hair was more just-tumbled-off-the-chaise-in-my-atelier. I prefer the former on her. It really highlights her beautiful bone structure.
jennywren said…
The bob is very nice but I think it makes her look older. As J said the long hair emphaisis her beautiful bone structure in a casual way.
I currently find myself with a similar dilema - whether to cut my shoulder length hair or not. Not wanting to look like an old hag (and not having Renatas' bone structure or luxurious mane!) I tend to wear it up all the time.
CompassRose said…
The bob has more of a defined style, but I agree with jennywren - she definitely looks older, and harsher. I like the long hair better, actually.
I had my hair very long like Renata, but a couple of years ago I did have it cut to a bob - but longer than hers.

I loathe the idea that middle-aged women should be forced into a short mumsy cut, but sometimes at a certain point the very texture of our hair might not look so nice very long. I have far more hair than most 20 year olds, but it is thinner than it was a decade ago and this causes me great grief. So I did have it cut to a curly bob, but when wet it is definitely still shoulder length. Jenny Wren, just an inch (couple of cm) off can make a big difference without risking the dread mumsy look.

Looks like the same coat to me. She wouldn't fear buying something perfect and wearing it for years.
Duchesse said…
J.: I like your description!

Jennywren: There are many kinds of up-dos but to generalize, I find them somewhat more demanding to wear as we get older, as there is nothing around the face.

CompassRose: The first word that sprang to my mind was "prim".

lagatta: I have an acquaintance (Italian as it happens) who wears this very long hair. Her hairdresser told her that it looked like "dead seaweed"- which is quite apt, as it has thinned. But she is loathe to cut even 3 inches that would make her hair look much healthier. So I support your point: if long, has to be healthy and reasonablly thick.

When I zoom in on the coat, the second shot appears to have much deeper pile- so I just can't say for sure.
I like the new bob but I think she looks more youthful with the longer hair, funny thing I wear my hair like her new bob and I have been feeling that I look too mature and am in the process of growing it longer, not as long as her former are correct in suggesting that hair can change a look!
I see by the other comments as few of us agree.
Shelley said…
Has she changed her glasses slightly as well? I'm thinking it is a different coat; however seems a bit limiting to have two coats so nearly identical. Don't know about the timing of all the photographs. Is it possible she looks older because she is older?
mette said…
I like her new hairstyle! Call me old-fashioned, but I think there comes the day, when you either choose to cut your hair, or tie it in a bun, and wear the bun. My hair is short enough to keep it loose and just long enough to tie it in a careless bun.
Belle de Ville said…
I preferred her with the long hair. The short hair, while chic, seemed matronly to me. What is more amazing than her cut is the fact that she is allowing herself to go gray. I love gray hair on some women, I just don't think that it is becomming on her.
Susan B said…
I'm probably in the minority here, but I prefer the bob. I think it's a more sophisticated look.
sisty said…
This gave me quite a bit to think about. At first, I was ready to go against my usual reaction and say that she's the exception to the "rule" that older women look better in shorter hair -- thinking she looked a bit better in longer hair.

Then I decided that she really DID look better with shorter hair -- precisely because it made her "look her age," or, as Pseu puts it, more sophisticated.

I thought it was really interesting that the first reaction is to focus on what makes her look younger. in our culture, the inquiry often stops right there, and it shouldn't.

Yes, she may look a bit older with the shorter hair, but why shouldn't she? She's a beautiful woman, but definitely a woman "of a certain age" and the shorter-hair look embraces that.
LPC said…
I concur with the group - she looks older. But maybe it's just reality, her hair can't sustain length any more. I'm currently giving it what may be my last shot with long hair. Old lady hair is in my future, however, so who knows how long it will last...BTW, Old Lady Hair is one of the more common search terms that finds my blog:).
Well, I think she did well to have a chop - NOT because of her age - that is a stereotype - but that her hair would look better a bit longer and wilder. It can grow out soon enough if she so desires.

I'd rather die than "have to" look matronly.
Vix said…
Another minority vote for the chop, as IMO it does lift her face (drawing one right to her eyes) and play up her hair's texture.

[More aging than the hair is the smoking, so I'm just focusing on first impressions of what each does for her face vs overall look/societal conventions around hair etc.]

The first long-haired shot is very glamourous, but in the on-the-street one her hair is very flat and doing nothing for her. May have just been a bad day, of course!

I don't know if she way dying her hair and stopped or is greying naturally, but if the former she may have chopped to get rid of all the dead hair and damage. Or because she was bored.

[Two reasons I just chopped, so admittedly I may be biased/seeing hair as just hair....]
materfamilias said…
I'm in the minority (but some of those punch way above their weight -- I'm looking at you, Pseu). I think she looks more youthful in terms of energy in the last shot -- of course, I think the glasses make a significant difference as well as the cranberry of the scarf picking up the lipstick. I concede that there's a certain primness in the polish, but there's more energy conveyed whereas I see fatigue in the same-coat earlier shot. The dark shot with the long hair, I'd agree, shows the length flattering her beautiful bone structure, but I don't get that from the early coat photo.
Duchesse said…
Hair colour for me is the last leaf. I'm not a luminous gray under there. Would like to see her with colour just for comparison's sake.

Vix: Here, it's quite rare to see a woman that age smoking anymore but I do see quite a few 20-somethings.
Mardel said…
I've had to look at this and come back to define my reasoning more clearly, but I am going for the bob as well, which was my first reaction. I agree it does not make her look younger, but I don't see that it makes her look older than in the middle picture, the first one in the coat.

In the first picture she looks stunning with a sparkle and life to her and he hair is gorgeous. I don't see that in the second picture you posted. The hair is dull and thin at the bottom and she looks flat and tired. Yes you see the fabulous bone structure, but the spareness also emphasizes the downward droop of the cheeks along the jawline, something that affects most of us as we age.

With the bob, yes there is a "doneness" to the look, which may not look as youthful and carefree, but the cut with the glasses adds a sparkle and draws the eye up to the fabulous eyes and away from the jaw. I think the third photo shows a woman who looks more interesting and full of life. Here the hair works with the glasses. In the second photo they just seemed to drag her down.
Duchesse, smoking has diminished significantly in Europe as well, but I do see more of the "educated" type person persisting in the habit in European countries. No argument from anyone about what it does to the skin (and everything beneath) from at least 35 or so. I know a gamine type in Paris (can't say she is a friend, she is almost an archetype of the superiority-complex-afflicted Parisienne) who must be pushing 60 - enviable slenderness, long dark hair etc but nasty smoker's lines.

And the Germans! Seem a lot of them use the fact that Hitler hated smokers (as well as so many other groups and categories of human beings) as an excuse to keep on puffing. Including a good friend who is one of those emergency surgeons who go in to work in war and disaster zones... Germany is even slow with smokefree zone regulations because of the Nazi stigma.

Yes, alas I see a lot of teens and 20-year-olds smoking. I saw the loveliest young man with that perfect skin nobody has much past 20 puffing on his bloody cig. I decided that telling him he was ruining his beautiful skin would DEFINITELY mark me as a meddling old hag...

"Tasse-toi, ma tante!"
L'age moyen said…
I am always attracted to the juxtaposition of long hair with an experienced face. In my mind, long hair is associated with the power of youth, and the experienced face shows the power of age. The two together, both surpising and powerful. That said, a buzz cut is also dynamic, as is a curly, silver bob. O.K. I think I just like each woman to look completely individual and uniquely stylish. In this case, for this woman, I prefer long.
M said…
It's the glasses. They look nerdy hip with the long hair but not with the bob. Plus, I would love to see her with more gray and the bob a bit more tousled.
Anne At Large said…
Picture #1 with the beautiful hair makes her look very classic and lovely.

Picture #2 it looks like her hair is starting to thin/gray and it washes her out.

Picture #3 it looks like she is embracing the gray and working a more gamine chic look (makes me think of the movie Amelie). I think it is a better look for her than #2, and I think #1 may not be attainable any more as hair changes over time and she may not want to dye hers or do whatever else it takes to keep it looking as gorgeous as picture #1. I also think the lipstick/scarf combo in #3 is a big help.
IMHO she looks much better in short hair. The long hair makes her look tired, every-so-slightly unwashed, and like maybe she can't afford to get her hair done. The shorter style gives her a sharper, more alert and together look.

Contact lenses or at least better-designed glasses would add to the improvement.
s. said…
I much prefer her look with long hair BUT she is striking such a saucy pose in the last photo that it gives me the impression (who knows if it's true) that she feels sassy and renewed by her new cut. And if it comes down to choosing between what makes a woman looks better vs. what makes a woman feel better, I always go for the latter, hands down.
Glennis said…
I think she look fabulous with the bob! What a great cut - she has such curl and body in her hair it really comes off great.

Whoops, now I'm reading the comments, I see there's quite a differnce of opinion.

Also - the coat is great.
Anonymous said…
I was drawn to this shot when I saw it on the Sartorialist's blog.I much preferred her hair long as I think it expressed her spirit better. This may be because I am currently growing out my decades old mom-bob, and letting my hair be longer and curly for the first time in 30 years. Truth be told, it is really about what makes you happy!
lady jicky said…
I think the shorter hair is better. The long drags down her face . I would chuck the glasses - they are aging and drop the dark matt lipstick and that coat. I think I must be the only person who thinks it looks like a man's dressing gown that has seen better days.
If Renata was in a neat black coat with glossy or creamy lipstick and a nicer pair of glasses she would look very youthful and chic.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: having seen w/ friends what a powerful addiction nicotine is, I am not surprised at any excuse- but had not heard the Hitler one before! Now if only I could find an evil force who hated chocolate.

mardel: That's it- she looks more 'done' in the bob. Some like that, others don't.

L'age moyen: "completely individual and uniquely stylish" is such an apt phrase! Love it.

Anne: It IS like Amelie, a whimsy about it. The lipstick/scarf reminds me to pay attention to colour.

Funny: Though I like women in glasses, they do obscure her eyes, such a dramatic feature in photo #1.

Anon-Madeline: Some women identify their bob as 'mumsy' but could it just be the time has come to change? I do think there is a time in life where one realizes that lush hair may not last and we are tempted to have long and flowy while we can.

s.: I like your imagination. Or perhaps she is thinking, "I'm a Scott Schuman pet and I know it!"

g.: I find it fascinating that we 'see' her so differently. How I would like to learn her impression of her new cut.

lady jickey; But... Madonna! Italian women of a certain age must have their darker lipstick; she is not a gloss type :)

Shelly: Can;t tell abut glasses; interesting that some want her to los them. I like women in glasses.

Lisa: more gray would be interesting too, but inbetween is draining to me.
Duchesse said…
Shelley: Was replying to you while
very tired, hope you can decipher that!
Judy said…
She is one of my favorites on The Sartorialist as well.

She looks beautiful to me both ways, though I have a personal preference for her long hair. I love that she does not dye her hair. And that she does not over do the make up. She seems comfortable in her own skin.

I like to think her bob was a spur of the moment decision...maybe on a beautiful warm day, dashing into a barber's and saying: "Go ahead, cut it!" (in Italian of course)...then lighting up a cigarette and going on her merry way, happy to feel the breeze on her neck and unconcerned with the "younger or older" question.

And in the end, isn't that inner freedom the 'style" we are all craving to feel?

So whether real or imagined, and yes, it's probably heavy on the imagination :)...the way she appears in the photos inspires me!
Duchesse said…
judy: She has such presence either way. The first portrait is one of my favourites. There is another photo of her somewhere on the site, in a peasant-ish skirt, very simple- I searched for over an hour and couldn't retrieve it.

I have posted her quote: "Not too many beautiful things together: one particular element and the rest must be something cooler, silent and respectful like a frame in a picture."
Judy said…
I remember that shot of her in the skirt! Was it green, maybe? Ah, no, I googled her name and this post came up from another blog:

Her dress is green!

Her fashion advice you quoted sounds like a poem.
Duchesse said…
judy: I found these shots too, but after zooming in, my take is that this woman is not Renata. The face isn't right. I'm recalling a full-on shot of her in a calf-length skirt, standing on a stone floor.

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