The Klute ’Do

Is Bree back? To New Yorkers of a certain age—say, 40-plus—it may seem that way, as a substantial number of young women have recently been spotted traipsing about town sporting a hairdo which appears drawn directly from Bree Daniels, the call girl famously portrayed by Jane Fonda in the 1971 Alan Pakula film Klute. (The tag line: “Lots of guys swing with a call girl like Bree. One guy just wants to kill her.”) Donald Sutherland—in his sexy, sideburns-and-haunted-blue-eyes phase—plays the small-town detective who helps her. Ms. Fonda won an Oscar.

The style isn’t just bangs, and it’s not the Sally Hershberger shag cut. Rather, the Klute ’do is shaggy and feathered, with thick blunt bangs and approximately shoulder-length locks angled towards the face. It’s neat and naughty at the same time. And chances are none of the women have seen the movie—or were born when it came out.

Bree also wears trench coats with the collar up, and short shorts with fuck-me boots—a look that would make her blend seamlessly in modern-day NoLita—but let’s stick to the hair. Why this sudden proliferation? Has Klute been showing at Film Forum?

“I think the trend is coming from the runway,” said Tommy Buckett, a stylist at Sally Hershberger. “I live in Williamsburg, and I see tons of hipsters with that haircut. Sixties fashion is back. Also 70’s—the mod kind of look. The 70’s was shaggy haircuts, shaggy long layers incorporated with heavy bangs. That Klute kind of feel. The girls in SoHo have the sixties bangs—thick, long, blunt. Every area in the city has their own interpretation. On the Upper East Side you see the Anna Wintour haircut, and even Ellen Barkin has that cut now—the bangs with a short bob. Versus in the hip areas, where it’s a little shaggier.”

Tina Langley, 27, an accessories editor at Seventeen, rider of the N/R, and owner of blunt, dramatic bangs courtesy of Mr. Buckett, said she’d never seen Mr. Pakula’s provocative film. Her own cut, she said, is “Helmut Newton–inspired, that’s what it is. When were those pictures, late 70’s? Tommy gave me this cut in the fall and I’ve just continued to go with it, because it’s kind of chic. It’s definitely a fashiony haircut. It’s a little bitchy. I like that.”

Mr. Buckett noted that not all women are so sure of their influences. “The more knowledgeable fashion girls will come in and say, ‘I want bangs like Michelle Pfeiffer in Scarface,’” he said. “They’re more inspired by certain things. They’ll see a movie, or an old book or something like that. Other times a girl comes in with long hair and she’s just sick of it. Then I’ll sometimes suggest bangs. Some girls can do ’em, some girls can’t.”

Agneiszka (Agnes) Szwaga, 24, lately of Poland but currently of Jackson Heights, Queens, said she got her Klute shag “somewhere in Greenpoint.” She said it dismissively, puffing on a cigarette outside a bar in the East Village. “Everybody in Poland has bangs,” she said. “In Europe, bangs are so in.” Has she seen Klute? Nope. Jane Fonda? Yep. Her friend jumped in: “Tonight she just washed her hair and left the house! You should see when she styles it—it’s amazing!”

A random sampling of Klute-tressed women on the street suggests that a great many of them, like Agnes, don’t hail from New York. “She’s not from here,” explained the friend of one emphatically silent Bree look-alike. “She’s from Argentina! Everybody there has that haircut!”

Carid, a stylist at Oscar Blandi, said the appeal of bangs is their faux modesty, which, of course, no one better illustrates than Bree Daniels. “You’re playing peek-a-boo. It’s a flirtation,” he said. “As a hair designer, enough of that long, limp, do-nothing hair. To be able to cut hair, put the fringe on someone … it changes their whole appearance; it just pops the cheekbone wide open. It allows women to have a haircut, not just hair.” (“Fringe” is the English term for bangs, he noted.)

So who can work the Klute cut? Blondes can try, but they probably won’t succeed. “Dark hair gives it more of an authentic feeling,” said Mr. Buckett. “It’s a little more dramatic.”

And it helps to be young: “I wouldn’t do a gamine, short-above-the-eyebrow bang on a more mature woman,” said Carid.

Regardless, once you start looking, Klute is everywhere. Ground zero for the modern-day Bree Daniels may be Pianos, aging den of Lower East Side hipsterdom, where we spied the most accurate Klute ’do of all: blunt brown bangs and shaggy, feathered ends, all angling toward the face of a doe-eyed ingenue with pale skin and painted-on cigarette jeans. She looked like Jane Fonda’s fragile little daughter. We chased her.

The Klute ’Do