Hair accessories are less about function, and more about fashion if the SS14 catwalks are anything to go by writes Anna Hunter

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It’s often assumed that hair accessories exist simply to disguise awkward hair that won’t play ball. Headbands become heroes when you’re attempting to grow out a fringe, chic slides smooth cowlicks into submission and crocodile clips just sweep it all away when you’ve had enough. In the manner of responsible babysitters or dedicated lion tamers, hair appendages come to our rescue when frizz, split ends and flyways run riot.

Yet how often do you consider anchoring your look around the humble hair accessory? How frequently do you add a borderline subversive ornament to your ’do before departing the house? Whether witty hair baubles are your thing or you feel compelled to run a mile from barrettes and bobby pins, there’s no escaping the hair accessory this coming season. The crowning glory of the Spring/Summer 14 catwalks was the hair bow; it was perched atop the most well turned out têtes at fashion week and many a designer sent ribbons down the runway. Cast away all memories of pre-school pigtails; the modern hair bow is nonchalant, streetwise and above all, grown-up (that doesn’t mean it can’t be cheeky on occasion, however).

Top of the class were Roksanda Ilincic’s oversized black neoprene bows, secured to simple, lived-in ponies created by the indisputably cool Luke Hersheson. Bold and sharp, the bows were powerfully offset by graphic black eyeliner (by Lucia Pica for MAC Pro), not to mention Ilincic’s bright, architectural collection. This contemporary take on the hair bow was intended to be anything but meek and mild, as Luke Hersheson explained to us:

“This look was very cute, but certainly not too girly. The neoprene created a solid, structured bow - it was rigid, not flouncy. I actually did very little to the models’ hair; I went for a very undone texture and simple ponytail, as it would have looked too fussy if hair was too curly or overstyled. It was all about finding a balance; sure it’s a hair bow, so it’s a feminine look but the tough, black neoprene bow counteracted this.

At Nina Ricci, ponytails and black hair bows also lended finesse to the elegant, ethereal collection; however, stylist Guido Palau took a more understated approach to looping the loop. Ponytails were glossy, low and loose, finished with a plain, silky bow. A cinch to recreate, subtle enough for the office yet suitably sophisticated for a night out, this style elevates the innocent hair bow to new heights of refinement. Like Hersheson, Palau’s handiwork was romantic yet not overly pretty or prim.

If you were a classroom rebel the Balenciaga take on the hair bow trend may well appeal to your rule-bending mentality, as hairstylist Paul Hanlon fastened black leather and satin bows backwards onto models’ heads. More bandannas than bows, Hanlon’s take on the trend had an edge of the ‘go hard or go home’ about it. Punky rather than prissy, this would be the tomboy’s bow of choice.

If the ‘tombow’ doesn’t appeal and you wish to parade your inner princess, may we suggest that you look to the decadent Meadham Kirchhoff catwalk, where regency excess ruled supreme. Models sauntered down the opulently decorated runway eating cake and bedecked in ruffles, lace and costume jewellery in the manner of Marie Antoinette. Fudge session stylist James Pecis took a similarly lavish line when it came to hair styling - ringlets, courtly updos and dainty bows were bountiful. Wallflowers were not invited, and this look may be tricky to translate to real life, but if you’re feeling ready and regal check out the range of hair bows available at American Apparel  and get busy with the curling tongs.

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For the ultimate in hair bow brilliance, however, look no further than Chanel. Like bouclé and pearls, bows are a staple element of the French fashion house’s style, and the Spring Summer 2014 campaign showcases the bow in a charmingly childlike fashion. Un peu Pebbles Flintstone, a touch enfant terrible, Sam McKnight’s choppy mini ponytails were finished with bonny little velvet and pearl bows. Not a style that many of us could get away with (save for toddlers and Lindsey Wixson) but totally charmant all the same.

Luxurious fabrics aren’t the only medium for Chanel bows; Lagerfeld and McKnight can do louche and lived-in just as well. For the Chanel Métier d’Arts Dallas show Karl put a request in for hair bows, so Sam fashioned them from hair extensions to match the models’ natural hair colour. Worn on a slant or attached loosely to ponytails, the bows captured the rugged yet modern Western aesthetic. Unusual yet natural looking, wearing a textured hair bow such as this will turn heads and inject some je ne sais quoi to your bouffant.

If getting crafty is not your bag, fill your boots with the hair bows on offer from Hershesons . They’re much more kitsch than McKnight’s creations (think Harajuku girl than than cowgirl) but fun and whimsical nevertheless. Let go and add a bow we say, life’s too short for a permanently plain Jane mane.