Many people don’t like this hairstyle. Hardly any other look is as polarizing as the mullet (short for “short at the front, long at the back”), which was worn by athletes like Rudi Völler and Andre Agassi in the 80s and early 90s (when he still had hair), but also by pop stars like Prince, Bands like Modern Talking, Duran Duran and A-ha.

The mullet is currently celebrating something of a comeback, for example with rapper Ski Aggu (26), comedian Fred Costea (30), Hertha striker Fabian Reese (26) and Hollywood star Kristen Stewart (34). He is now usually given an English name with “Mullet” by both women and men.

Phenomena with a bad reputation sometimes need to be called something else in order to become more accepted again. You can also see it when taking a walk in the countryside (forest bathing), when preparing meals (meal prep) or at the barber shop.

Mullethead basically means fool

The newfangled “mullet” is actually not a nice word, as the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” (NZZ) once mused: “While the German term mullet still describes the look in a relatively neutral, abbreviated form, in English the term “mullet” “It looks different: It comes from the word “mullethead”, which was used in the 19th century to describe “stupid” or “stupid” people.”

The legendary hardcore punk and hip-hop band Beastie Boys coined the term, releasing a song called “Mullet Head” 30 years ago – sample of the refrain: “Cut the Sides, Don’t Touch the Back” ( Cut the sides, leaving the back untouched).

Until the 90s, the mullet poodle mane was quite often seen on the streets in Germany. From above it was classistically classified – especially when combined with a mustache – as the haircut of Manta drivers and rednecks. To this day, Danes call the cut Bundesligahår because it is considered characteristic of Bundesliga footballers.

The mullet was also widespread in the queer scene and was considered a symbol for lesbians who identified themselves as “butch”, i.e. adopted a look that was supposedly reserved for men.

David Bowie and ancient warriors also wore mullets

But the hairstyle was already cult even before the 80s: David Bowie wore a mullet in the early 70s for his alien alter ego Ziggy Stardust.

The New York Times explained that the helmet-like mullet was already common in ancient Assyria, Egypt and Greece: “Greek texts suggest that this style was particularly popular among warriors. No doubt the longer hair on the back of their necks kept their necks warm while the pony made sure they could see clearly.”

A haircut that breaks gender stereotypes

The English expression for the mullet is “Business in the front, party in the back” – loosely translated: serious at the front, Halligalli at the back. But it could also be said “Man in the front, woman in the back,” said the “NZZ”. “The play with gender roles is perhaps the most exciting and contemporary thing about the mullet. And that was certainly what David Bowie liked about it.”

The recent revival was initially just a claimed trend on the catwalks of brands like Gucci or Off-White. Stylist Guido Palau had models appear with mullets at Marc Jacobs fashion shows around ten years ago. In recent years he has actually become a hipster phenomenon and a more common occurrence. When men were allowed to take part in Heidi Klum’s “Germany’s Next Top Model” on ProSieben for the first time in 2024, two of the candidates, Maximilian and Yanik, wore a mullet.

A mullet no longer means a hedgehog cut with a neck mat

“We have already had mullet variants in our trend look collections a few times – for women and men,” says Antonio Weinitschke, art director at the Central Association of the German Hairdressing Trade. “But before a fashion really takes hold, it always takes time – it takes a few years.” If it is made aesthetically, there is nothing wrong with a mullet, says the expert.

Weinitschke emphasizes that today’s mullet doesn’t look like the mullet of the 80s. For men, the cuts are much softer in their connections, they are not extremely long at the back, but the sides are short, almost shaved. “Back then it was mostly a standing haircut at the top, the rest was long down at the nape of the neck,” says the master hairdresser from Aachen. “Today, the hair is layered more evenly and the whole thing is worn flatter and spread out, so not with such a stand-up head.”