At just nineteen Carrie Fisher became an instant mega star from her role of Princess Leia in Star Wars. Not only will her image live forever in film history, I don’t know if I can think of a single more iconic hairstyle in film than Princess Leia’s hair buns.
When asked about the inspiration for Leia’s look, George Lucas stated “In the 1977 film, I was working very hard to create something different that wasn’t fashion, so I went with a kind of Southwestern Pancho Villa woman revolutionary look, which is what that is. The buns are basically from turn-of-the-century Mexico.”
Despite this explanation, Carrie Fisher credited hairstylist Patricia McDermott for creating the look.
Sadly, she isn’t even credited in the first film, but she continued her work as the chief hairstylist for “Return Of The Jedi”.
McDermott (1930-2015) was born in London and was trained in hairdressing at her mother’s salon. She was also a pro at using wigs and hairpieces in her work.
Regarding her iconic film hairdo, Carrie Fisher stated “When I arrived, they were shooting the Mos Eisley thing. The hairdresser woman, Pat, put on me what she had as an idea for the hair – and that was it.”
Leia’s look took two hours to create. Because of this Fisher would have to arrive on set around 5 A.M. In her book The Princess Diarist, which has an entire chapter devoted to the hairstyle, she wrote “Why was I asked to arrive at this ungodly hour? What monstrous chain of command had selected me apart from many others more deserving, more endowed with tresses thick and wavy tumbling toward their waiting waists? She (McDermott) was the first person I saw in the morning and the last person I saw at night. There were two hairpieces which were practically bolted to each side of my head,” said Fisher.“ These long, brown tresses that, once latched on grimly, were twisted into some oversized cinnamon-bun shape, which then, with a deftness that never ceased to amaze me, the hairdresser would very slowly and deliberately wind into the now famous buns of Navarone.” Though these pieces were heavily bobby pinned, they still would come loose during active scenes. “I’d be running down a hallway and my hairdo would start falling apart,” Fisher said.
Having been asked to lose 10lbs before filming, she also recalled wondering if the hairstyle was created to offset her weight. “I only weighed 110 pounds to begin with, but I carried about half of them in my face. I think they put those buns on me so they might function as bookends keeping my face right where it was – between my ears and no bigger.”
When Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977 Princess Leia’s hair became an instant smash hit. Return Of The Jedi hairstylist Paul LeBlanc recalled “They were being depicted as doughnuts, bagels, even as Danish pastries! This did not amuse Mr Lucas in the least.” In 2004 Fisher told Time Out New York “I am Leia and Leia is me. We’ve overlapped each other because my life has been so cartoony or superhero-like. By this age, it would be ridiculous if I had a problem with it.”
Over 40 years later this hairstyle is still a popular look to recreate. To get the most authentic hair buns, you’ll need very, very long hair or hair extensions matching your color on each side. Check out this amazing Vogue tutorial to unlock the secret to creating these legendary hair buns in just five easy steps.