This Instagram Account Will Be The Unlikely Inspiration For Your Next Haircut

If you're in need of a hairstyle switch-up, rather than trawling through Pinterest for celebrity-inspired contemporary beachy waves or colorful box braids, why not look back through art history for your next take-to-the-hairdresser snap?
Instagram account The Hair Historian — operated by London-based hair editor Rachael Gibson, and which currently has 6k followers — is a celebration of art's leading ladies and their absolutely stellar styles. From dreamy history paintings from the 19th century to Japanese woodblock prints from the 1800s, one scroll through the account is more than just an art lesson; it's bonafide hair inspiration.
"I've always, always loved art — I was a real pretentious art-kid teenager," Gibson tells us. "I just love everything about imagery, but particularly portraiture: documentary photography of street style, Renaissance paintings of women with mad hair, selfies... the depiction of people fascinates me. My brain is one giant Pinterest board of images and ideas of what to do with them. It's exhausting!"
After studying fashion and fashion journalism, Gibson found that journalist roles within the industry were few and far between. Turning her hand to beauty, she joined a trade title for hairdressers and found that her favorite aspect of the job was going deep into their archives. "The magazine is over 130 years old, and weekly, so we had hundreds of old issues, which I just loved poring through and taking pictures of interesting things," she says.
Following her time at the publication, Gibson spent a few years at an education company called Mastered, where she worked with stylists like Guido and Sam McKnight. "All of this experience led to me realizing that there was a real problem with young creatives finding interesting, innovative sources of inspiration," Gibson explains. "I was forever seeing the exact same images on moodboards and being used as references."
With thousands of archival artworks on her Pinterest board, Gibson decided to put them to good use and share them with others who might be inspired by them, too. Thus, The Hair Historian was born. "I'm not saying everyone has to be inspired by the same artworks or images that I find interesting, but rather to hopefully encourage people to just look harder at sources of inspiration and turn their own passions into ideas for work," she says. "I'm not a hairdresser, but when I see the textures, shape and structures in some of the art I share, I'm totally visualizing how it could be turned into a hairstyle – and that's what I want others to think, too."
Her favorite post so far? "It's always anyone with red hair, because apparently I'm self-obsessed," Gibon says. "I absolutely love Lucas Cranach the Elder's depiction of wiggly, snaky, goth hair and this one is probably my favorite."
Ahead, we've rounded up our favorites from the feed, from those red-headed Pre-Raphaelites to pearl-embellished Polish princesses. Click through to mine the archives of The Hair Historian.

More from Hair

R29 Original Series