Throughout history, red hair has been variously associated with witches, vampires and the devil; generally, the notion goes that it’s different, therefore it’s not to be trusted. With less than 2% of the world’s population naturally red haired, it’s no wonder it causes a fuss; from the Biblical traitor Judas to Dolly Parton’s love rival Jolene and her flaming locks of auburn hair, redheads have historically been marked out as troublemakers and outsiders.
There have been some high points; the 16th century painter Titian gave just about every woman that he painted red hair – from Venus to the Virgin Mary. Such was his obsession, the phrase Titian Red is still in use as a shorthand for auburn. The Pre-Raphaelites were equally fascinated with redheads and much of the work of the era features flowing, thick, curly red hair inspired by famous red-haired models and muses of the era including Elizabeth Siddal, Fanny Cornforth and Alexa Wilding.
When it comes to iconic redheads, Elizabeth I is arguably up there as the most memorable – and her natural strawberry blonde hair not only set trends but also ushered in a new wave of retail hair colours, designed to get her look. Some stories suggest that such was the popularity of her red hair, that even the royal horses had their tails dyed orange to match.