In a Republican primary season that saw changing frontrunners, surprise defections and shifting poll numbers, there was one constant the public could count on: Callista Gingrich’s perfectly-coiffed, platinum blond bob, with its signature swoop to the left. The interest in her hair was also constant—a pollster for the Gingrich campaign told the New York Times that the candidate’s wife was asked about the look “at every stop” on the campaign trail.
The interest is predictable at this point, as politicians and their spouses have come under increased scrutiny for their hair choices in recent years. From Hillary Clinton’s ponytails and headbands to Michelle Obama’s pinned back updo for a 2009 event, every departure from a public figure’s normal hairstyle creates a media stir. Which is why Gingrich’s consistency was so remarkable.
George Ozturk of Washington’s George Salon at the Four Seasons, which Callista Gingrich used to frequent, describes her hairstyle as an updated 1970s bob. “Only in this country would a potential president’s wife’s hairstyle get so much attention,” says Ozturk, who has styled Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and King Abdullah II of Jordan, among others. “But it has become so well-known that to change it now would be a big mistake for Mrs. Gingrich.”
Paul Ramadan, a hairstylist at Washington’s Nantucket Hair Salon who previously worked with former Second Lady Lynn Cheney, says that, in general, women tend to get picked on more than their male counterparts for their beauty and sartorial choices. “Callista’s hairstyle is not typical—it could be a little more contemporary, but I think this is how she likes it,” Ramadan says of the heightened awareness of the look. “It’s a nice bob, but Mrs. Cheney and Mrs. [Laura] Bush just blended in more.”
With Newt Gingrich leaving the presidential race, LightBox looks back on Callista Gingrich’s now-famous Swoosh.