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How to Pull Off "The Harper" Hairstyle

Whatever you think about Prime Minister Stephen Harper, you have to admit that he is pretty life-like. The chubby fingers; the baleful, whale-grey eyes; the creaky, angular little half-smile: it’s really quite something. We spoke to hairstylists across...

This fantastic animated GIF was designed by someone named Scorpion Dagger.

Advanced robotics is no easy task. One tiny slip-up, one misreading of nature’s precise proportions and you’re stranded in the Uncanny Valley forever, another lost soul sitting across from his Realdoll at Kelsey’s. When it comes to this most demanding of the representative arts, every detail matters.

Whatever you think about Prime Minister Stephen Harper, you have to admit that he is pretty life-like. The chubby fingers; the baleful, whale-grey eyes; the creaky, angular little half-smile: it’s really quite something.


But I think we all know that the hair is the real triumph.

Can this even be argued? Consider it in its fullness: that rustled meniscus of corrugated ore with a slash of slate. Is it not just like the hair of an actual person? How was it created? Can we even begin to understand it?

We can try. That’s why VICE Canada sat down with stylists from some of Canada’s top salons in order to get a handle on The Harper. How did this come to be? What are its secrets?

Terry (from Montreal’s Helmet salon), Lisa (from Toronto’s Coupe Bizarre), and Amir (from Ottawa’s Salon Rouge), possess decades of combined haircutting experience, and they work in the sort of salons where customers expect requests like “I’m thinking ‘80s Bowie meets Dee Dee Ramone and they sort of want to say hi but don’t” to provide 500% fuckability boosts in 45 minutes or less.

These people are alchemists.

And if you are ready to try and re-create the towering achievement of Canadian engineering that is The Harper, they can make it happen. But here’s what you have to do.

Ask For It By Name
Everyone we contacted seemed to immediately grasp what we were after. Nobody thought that it was weird. You got the impression that this was a topic of discussion, hair stylist-wise.

If you want The Harper, you have to ask for The Harper. Though Terry suggested that one could achieve Prime Minister-esque results by requesting an “outdated, old-school haircut,” and Lisa alluded to the existence of a shadowy, pre-Harper era wherein one might have requested “the ‘80s news anchor,” both knew exactly what I meant by The Harper, and they knew how to make it happen.


All you have do is ask, which (strangely enough) no patron of either salon ever has done in all of history. Not even once.

Have What It Takes
The Harper isn’t going to work for just anybody. Though outwardly egalitarian, the Prime Ministerial style requires that you bring a few things to the table.

In Ottawa, Amir emphasized that Stephen Harper is “the leader of the country [and] one of the most important people in the world,” adding that: “for a man in his position, with his responsibilities, this is the right cut.”

What about you, though? Are you important enough for this cut? Do you think you have the right sort of responsibilities?

Do you even have the right sort of hair?

According to Lisa, if you want The Harper, “your hair has to be straight and quite thick–lustrous, even” (Lisa also wanted us to emphasize that she doesn’t think Stephen Harper is personally “lustrous,” but his hair sort of is).

Has anyone ever described you as “lustrous”?

Be Bold And Courageous And Defiant
Like the mysterious creation of Stephen Harper himself, the Prime Ministerial hairstyle is an effort of pure will. Terry was most emphatic about this, noting (with some exasperation) that “It’s not cut right… it just doesn’t go, it doesn’t flow… it shouldn’t be.”

On a more specific note, Lisa perceived something especially nature-defying about that almost lewdly curvaceous sweep that covers the PMs forehead, stating that: “You would have to apply A LOT of hairspray for that… he has A LOT OF LENGTH in the front… he probably has to hairspray it up so he doesn’t look emo.”


This lends The Harper yet another strength: it’s versatile. Sometimes, as one of the world’s Most Important People, you have to rule over G8 conferences with an iron fist. But other times, maybe you want to send YouTube selfies to your girlfriend while a Drivin’ ‘N’ Cryin’ song plays in the background. The Harper lets you do both.

This is the big one. Though Terry, Lisa, and Amir all felt capable of re-creating The Harper, there remains the question of maintenance: sure, you can get The Harper. But does this mean that you can be The Harper?

As Amir, whose salon is located just a few short blocks from Parliament Hill, explained “I have politicians that come in here, and they have very, very busy lifestyles.” This is important to remember: The Harper is not the creation of one man, one hairdryer, and a mirror. It is a team effort.

It is a great Canadian industrial accomplishment.

While Lisa was explaining the intricacies of the “Harper hairspray program,” I foolishly interjected, asking her if she thought he really stood there, day in and day out with a roller brush, adjusting his forelocks (while possibly listening to Tiffany).

I was naive. “His people do it for him,” she explained in a slightly-embarrassed-for-me tone. Terry confirmed this, adding that the sweeping proto-fringe that is perhaps The Harper’s signature gesture is very, very unlikely to occur naturally. “He has someone work on that,” said Terry. “If that’s natural, I’d be very impressed.”


All Things For The Best, In The Best Of All Possible Worlds
For citizens of sophisticated, advanced nations like Canada, new scientific tricks and techniques are going to continue presenting us with strange products and weird spectacles, and it is up to us to recognize them for the modern wonders that they are.

Not everyone can get The Harper. But if you are ready to give it a shot, Canada’s top hairstylists are up to the task. The Harper may be strange, it may be foreign-seeming, and it may even be a little frightening -- but as an option, it’s on the table.

After all, it’s just hair.

It’s actually real human hair.

It has DNA in it.


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