Monsters and Critics’ favorite drama of the year is History’s “Vikings,” yes… even more than “Game of Thrones.” The tall fierce cast sports the best rock n’ roll hair that is inspiring everyone to braid and texturize with products like Sea Salt sprays. Long hair can be sculpted, shaped and teased to create these memorable hairstyles.
We went to the source, Dee Corcoran, stylist extraordinaire for Michael Hirst’s production that films in Ireland.
A veteran crafts-person who has worked with Mr. Hirst on past projects like “The Tudors,” “Vikings” stylist Dee Corcoran tells M&C how to achieve Siggy, Bjorn, Ragnar and Lagertha’s look and more!
The intricate braiding and clever woven and sculpted styles were both arresting and useful for the warriors, from potential lice control to making sure their opponents could not grab them by their locks were some of the historic inspirations.
And despite the fact that there are few descriptive references from that time, there were enough drawings for Ms. Corcoran to use and imagine how they could have managed their flowing hair in a time where mousse, hairspray, shampoo and bobby pins were non-existent.
We asked Ms Corcoran 10 burning questions about the casts’ badass hair and how she did it!
Monsters and Critics: How did you research the Viking hair?
Dee Corcoran: We had very limited visual references so we had to use our creative license. We did know however that we wanted to steer clear of the stereotypical double plait look, we really wanted to create a gritty and intriguing reality.
M&C: I love how much fun you have with the mens’ hair, so many have intricate hairstyles (Bjorn’s shaved carved hair, Ragnar’s interesting hairstyle (is there a name for his hairstyle?) Does the Seer have any hair and if so, will we ever see it? I thought it was interesting that King Horik had very little going on, and Jarl Borg had intricate beard work. Talk about these character hair idiosyncrasies…
DC: Well firstly Bjorn’s hair is one of the few hairstyles we could base on sources. The sharp shaved look was used in order to prevent the enemy from grabbing the hair from behind in battle and probably prevented lice… This warrior look was chosen for Bjorn as his character is dealing with the realities of becoming a warrior just like his father. Ragnar’s hair is as unique as his character, he doesn’t follow the crowd! I developed his striking look to make him really stand out. We try to make each character a little individual not just to differentiate but to define or compliment their personality and how they fit into the storyline.
M&C: As soon as Porunn became a free woman, she got a braid. Is that the sign of a shield maiden, or just a free woman?
DC: Porunn looks up to Lagertha and the braids symbolize her longing to become a shield maiden. In a way, Porunn is aspiring to have the respect and independence that Lagertha’s character had managed to achieve.
M&C: How much of the budget is spent on extensions, hairpieces or fake hair in general
DC: Real hair extensions are used which are very expensive… but we want to achieve the most authentic look possible. Yes it is costly, but worth it, on a production like this with so many battle scenes the hair has sit and move well in combat.
M&C: You avoided the Brunhilda with Viking horn cap look, explain the nature of the hairstyles with the higher born women (Aslaug) and also Lagertha’s hair, it evolved in the two years. Siggy has no hairstyle-it flows…
DC: We try and let the hair reflect both the character and their social status. Princess Aslaug has a very effeminate look, which not only depicts the character’s nature but also highlights the differences between herself and Lagertha! Siggy has been a flexible character and sometimes keeps us guessing as to her motives or allegiances and therefore a flexible more mercurial style keeps her character open and not pinned down. The Seer wears a bald cap… so no… you won’t see his hair.
M&C: Everyone wants to know how to get the Lagertha, how did you get the lift at the top and the braids worked in the sides? Details please
DC: Back combing, back combing, back combing!! Really good back combing will achieve the height and if the back combing is good enough product won’t even be need. As for the tight braiding, just make sure those sections are really sharp and defined!
M&C: How long does it take to get them ready in the trailer from start to finish?
DC: We are limited for time on set so we have about a 40 minute window per person so we need to work fast
M&C: When the shooting wraps, do any of the actors want to continue with some of their character’s hairstyles?
DC: Sometimes but usually those with hair extensions are pretty happy to part with them after six months of shooting.
M&C: Obviously hair product has evolved from whatever it was they used to fix and form their hair, what were the historical hair products (guessing here… whale vomit, sea salt spray?) and what did you really use in the trailer?
DC: Well definitely no whale vomit! We do use bottled sea spray and then of course we have the Irish elements to deal with (rain, mist, mud- even in the summer) and these might contribute to the broken down look
M&C: Any characters for next season we should be watching for and if you can give us a few style spoilers on what you have planned for them?
DC: We are just in the planning stages right now, it’s a very exciting season ahead, you’ll just have to tune in to find out!
If you want to learn intricate braiding styles, Monster and Critics recommends The New Braiding Handbook, 60 Modern Twists On The Classic Hairstyles by Abby Smith. This softcover book is full of great directions, incredible step-by-step photos and ideas to take what Dee has shared and give yourself a fetching Norse makeover!