For Kate Bush, it’s been the banner year that no one saw coming. Since Netflix hit Stranger Things catapulted the legendary British singer-songwriter back into the zeitgeist by using her 1985 track “Running Up That Hill,” it’s been a fruitful time for Gen-Z to discover—and long-time fans to celebrate—her genius. As she reclaims the top of the charts and rakes in millions of views on her electrifying music videos, her renaissance has also ushered in a renewed appreciation for her singular beauty. Since 1978, when then-19-year-old Bush’s debut single “Wuthering Heights” shot straight to number one, she’s embodied a dreamy, bohemian romance. Her unmistakable choppy shag, often accompanied by a smoked-out gaze and rosy rouged cheeks, only add to the rapture of watching her perform.
“Kate has always existed entirely in her own universe, eschewing trends and seemingly just creating work that matters to her,” says Rachel Gibson, the London-based hair expert who runs the @The Hair Historian on Instagram. The way Gibson sees it, Bush’s signature hair look, which recalls the heavily fringed, layered cuts of the late ’70s and ’80s with their distinct hot-brushed, hair sprayed finish, is both of the time and all her own. “Her hair perfectly complements the daydreamy, otherworldly nature of her music, and although technically there’s quite a specific haircut going on there, and some of her looks are very intentionally styled, it still manages to feel utterly effortless,” she explains. “In an era of image obsession, where we can’t handle a hair out of place even in a throwaway selfie, the soft-focus, fuzzy imperfection of Kate’s hair feels just wonderful.”
This free-spirited attitude extended into Bush’s vivid makeup applications, always worn with natural aplomb, whether she was in a T-shirt and jeans or swaying in a chiffon dress onstage. “She always looked so naturally powerful,” says makeup artist Grace Ahn. “Her hair and makeup had such a signature look—always dark wavy textured hair with red lipstick and dramatic eye makeup.” One of Bush’s most iconic color makeup combinations, as immortalized on the cover of her album Hounds of Love, was her lilac-washed lids worn with a berry-stained mouth. To this day, it’s synonymous with Bush’s individual brand of glamour.
As an artist, performer, and storyteller, Bush continues to inspire on all fronts. In honor of her 64th birthday, here’s a look back at some of her most standout beauty looks throughout the years.