Paper Butterflies: The Next Big Hair Accessory Or The Next Big Cry For Help?

They looked so pretty on the haute couture runways, I had to make my own. But do they work in real life?
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They looked so pretty on the haute couture runways, I had to make my own. But do they work in real life?

Haute Couture Fashion Week was a few weeks ago, but everyone’s still abuzz over so much awesome. The Spring/Summer shows are always the best, in my opinion, as they roll out in the dead of winter and are filled with summery hues and details, and I audibly squealed through most of the shows. 

I love couture fashion, not because I will ever, ever be able to wear or afford anything that they make, but because it’s the hotbed of this years’ trends. Makeup looks, accessories, garment details and even colour combos from couture shows pop up as trends throughout the year, and it’s fun to see the evolution from runway to sidewalk.

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This time around, butterflies were big. Butterflies seemed to be everywhere, from Valentino’s butterfly capes to Alexis Mabille’s 3D paper butterflies. I felt like I should call Drew Barrymore for some reason. “Drew, the butterflies!” I would shriek.

@winkbynathalie on Instagram

@winkbynathalie on Instagram

Mabille’s models covered in paper butterfly cutouts piqued my interest, with its ethereal club-kid aesthetic. I love how basic but bold it is, and even better, it looked like it’d be easy to execute. I’m always scouring fashion sites for interesting looks that someone with a bit of scratch and some capable hands could manage.

I went through my studio to find some stiff paper to cut the butterflies from. All I had were some old meteorological maps from the ‘60s. They were probably out of date anyways, and they’d be stiff enough to hold the wings up, and the pattern might be a nifty way to take down the posh a notch.

I went back and forth on how to attach them, but settled on gluing them to bits of wire. It sounds dangerous, but the lead-core wire makes them easy to insert and arrange without affecting the hairstyle. It also isn’t overly obvious, and you can hair-pin the ends for extra staying power.

Apparently hours of cutting out snowflakes doesn’t sharpen my lepidoptera-carving skills

Apparently hours of cutting out snowflakes doesn’t sharpen my lepidoptera-carving skills

After cutting out a dozen or so paper butterflies, I decided that next time, I’d trace some of butterfly shapes out, if nothing else to make it a bit faster. 

I cut them out by folding the paper and cutting out one side. It made the butterflies’ wings lifted nicely, and gave a crease to set the wire.

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I used 4-inch lengths of lead-core wire and a regular glue stick (they are a must-have in your beauty kit). By folding the abdomen of the butterfly closed over the wire, it was hidden, but secure.

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After letting them dry for about 20 minutes, I put my hair up in a topknot. It’s a basic style that wouldn’t be too dramatic with accessories, whereas a French twist would look too theatrical.

I bent the wires to fit close to the hair, and worked them through the base of the topknot, but concentrated on one side.

Done right, the wires should be completely hidden.

Done right, the wires should be completely hidden.

I came to the conclusion that no, I would not be wearing little paper butterflies in my hair anytime soon--unless I am invited to a Mariah Carey-themed masquerade. The impracticality of having delicate paper bits perched precariously in my hair gives me heartburn.

Wandered away from the set of a Czech New-Wave film.

Wandered away from the set of a Czech New-Wave film.

The main issue is that the bits don’t translate well enough into actual butterflies unless you see them from the right angle. The shuddering of two-dozen paper wings will make even the smallest nods seem defiantly avian. 

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In photos, on runways, these work. However, this experiment made me keenly aware of how easy it would be to use pose-able wire to add any plethora of paper objects to an otherwise basic updo.

What do you think? I’m thinking some origami. Are you ready for the resurrection of the butterfly trend? Only if there are enough cheap plastic butterfly clips for everyone!