In the early 1970s, Frans Zammit wore his hair in what would become one of fashion’s most ridiculed styles: short on the top and sides of the head and long at the back.

“Many men had the style back then,” he remembers, “and we would also wear bell-bottomed trousers as well.”

Now 68 years old, Zammit no longer wears the ‘business-in-the-front, party-in the-back’ style, having had to cut his hair when he joined the police force in 1976.

But the style, which had its golden age in the 1970s and 1980s with icons such as David Bowie and Patrick Swayze, fell out of favour by the 1990s and became regarded as the worst possible haircut.

No more.

Aleks Cassar says he styles at least four mullets every week at his Birkirkara salon, Alternative Hairdressing.

The 33-year-old said the style was slowly gaining ground but exploded in popularity with the Netflix series Stranger Things, where two characters, Steve and Billy, both sport it in the show set in the 1980s.

He says he sensed that 1980s fashion was coming back in 2016 and slowly began introducing the mullet among his clients “until stranger things came out and... boom”. 

“Introducing the hairstyle in my salon wasn’t that easy but I feel privileged that my clientele is a small niche that experiments in fashion,” he adds. 

The style is popular in more mainstream salons too.

“The mullet is experiencing a remarkable comeback,” says hairdresser Oana Barbu, who works at Dean Gera Salons. “I think there isn’t a corner of the modern world that hasn’t interacted with a mullet, be it live or on screens.”

Hairdresser Oana Barbu says celebrities like Miley Cyrus have popularised the feminine mullet. Photo: Oana BarbuHairdresser Oana Barbu says celebrities like Miley Cyrus have popularised the feminine mullet. Photo: Oana Barbu

“Back in the 1980s, we had the iconic David Bowie, Patrick Swayze, Rod Stewart, Paul McCartney and even Brad Pitt, all wearing legendary mullets that led to the style’s popularity at the time. But to most youngsters nowadays, those names don’t ring any bells,” Barbu, who is a hairdresser at Dean Gera Salons, remarks. 

Barbu, who claims to have had the first contemporary mullet in Malta four years ago, says the style started its modern comeback in 2019, popping up across social media channels.

“Maybe not as much in Europe but it was definitely gaining popularity and being embraced across the Atlantic,” she explains.

Barbu says the style gained ground as an act of expressing rebellion within creative circles, alternative fashion lovers and the queer community.

But, over the past few years, the style has widened its appeal, especially as celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Rihanna “normalised” the look after being styled in feminine mullets.

“Although Cambridge dictionary defines the mullet as a ‘men’s hairstyle’, I assure you it is one of the most diverse styles; it can be any shape and length and tailored for anyone,” she notes. 

Among the people sporting the hairstyle is Matthew Farrugia, who decided to grow the back of his hair three years ago. 

 “I was one of the early birds when it came to the style and I would say I have had it for a solid three years now.”

Farrugia says he decided to grow a mullet to go against the grain of “traditional and common haircuts”.

“I wanted to have an edge,” he says.

“It is returning as a style and it’s very overused now, so I might need to find another style soon,” he smiles.

Isaac Vasallo, 26, is a more recent convert, adopting the style four months ago.

“I’ve been keeping my hair short all my life and felt like it was time for a new style. I’m quite happy with the style so far but I am eager to see it grow more,” he says.

The rap musician, who uses the stage name Boyy Pablo, says the type of music he makes goes with his new hairstyle and general image as an artist.

Vasallo says that around half of the comments he received on his new hairstyle were positive.

“The other half were not exactly negative but were more in terms of jokes that would label the stereotype of the mullet but I have a sense of humour,” he adds.

“Everyone should have their style and do what makes them happy and not what others perceive them to be.”

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