Hot fuzz: how did we get to this? Our guide to 20 years of hirsute hipsterdom

Barnabe Fillion wearing shirt, by Paul Smith
Barnabé Fillion (wearing shirt, £175, by Paul Smith) takes us through 20 years of facial topiary.
(Image credit: Alexandre Guirkinger)

Our beardy poster boy is Barnabé Fillion. A true renaissance man, the jazz player cum model, perfumer, photographer, whisky blender and olfactory artist has worn his whiskers long for 12 years. ‘When I first grew it, the only young people wearing them were hippies and freaks. But I didn’t dress like a hippie so it confused people,’ explains Fillion, whose look was embraced early on by Martin Margiela and Paul Smith. ‘All my heroes had beards – Thelonious Monk, Terry Riley – and I admired Sikhism for the beauty of the turban with a beard.’ We suspect this beard is here to stay.

If, as is sometimes claimed, the volume of whiskers on a man’s face is inversely proportional to the amount of confidence he has in his masculinity, it’s safe to say the recent wobble has been seismic. A clean shave has been a rare find beyond our cities’ financial centres for the past two decades, while the creative enclaves – the Brooklyns and Dalstons of the world – have hosted some of the most experimental facial topiary. Matched by a resurgence in traditional barber services, facial grooming has tripped from designer stubble to full-on candy floss. We trace the shaving shifts across the years...

As originally featured in the October 2016 issue of Wallpaper* (W*211)

Illustration of Barnabe Fillion

Goatee: the favoured facial furniture of 19th-century bohemians, the 1990s version incorporated the moustache. Its face-slimming potential means some find it hard to let go.

(Image credit: Magda Antoniuk)

The safest route out of the clean shave was the universally adopted stubble

Stubble: the safest route out of the clean shave was the universally adopted stubble. Even silvery heads were given licence to let their whiskers go when George Clooney stepped out stubbly.

(Image credit: Magda Antoniuk)

Illustration of Barnabe Fillion with moustache

Moustache: before full-on hipster hair took hold, the moustache made a brief return. Its first reincarnation was closer to the trucker model, hooking down around the mouth towards the chin.

(Image credit: Magda Antoniuk)

The 19th century dandy’s style statement has become an ironic trope on the top lip of the hipster

Hipster moustache: the 19th-century dandy’s style statement has become an ironic trope on the top lip of the hipster. With the ends carefully looped with wax, it is teamed with less considered clothing.

(Image credit: Magda Antoniuk)

The full beard, of the type that would make a nice home for a hamster

Big beard: the full beard, of the type that would make a nice home for a hamster, was born in Brooklyn, and goes well with artisanal chocolate making, micro beer brewing and home pickling.

(Image credit: Magda Antoniuk)

The George V is groomed and shaped to a gentle point

George V-style beard: an evolution from the original hipster beard, the George V is groomed and shaped to a gentle point, in the style of its namesake, with the moustache ends tweaked upwards.

(Image credit: Magda Antoniuk)
Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*. Having previously held roles at 10, 10 Men and AnOther magazines, he joined the team in 2022. His work has a particular focus on the moments where fashion and style intersect with other creative disciplines – among them art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and profiling the industry’s leading figures and brands.