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Hair Color Magic: Instant Attitude Adjustment


Actress Rose McGowan joined the wildly popular cast of The WB's Charmed as Paige Matthews, the long lost sibling of the Halliwell Sisters, in the Fall of 2001.

(Image of Rose McGowan as Paige on WB's Charmed - Photo Credit: The WB / Ron Batzdorff - all rights reserved - October, 2001).

The appearance of the brunette tressed (at the time) Rose in Season 4 was intended to fill the ancestral shoes of unexpectedly deceased big Halliwell sister Prue, played by everlasting bad girl Shannon Doherty.

Whether you love Charmed or not, there has been a lot going on during the past few years when it comes to the evolution of Rose's hair color & style as Paige on the witchy series. If you have any interest in hair, you may be as fascinated as I am by the changes in the length, color and hair style used to mirror Paige Halliwell's character development.

The color and style of her hair over the past few seasons has subliminally mirrored her attitude, her personality and yes, her character on the show.

The use of hair color and style to depict a character for a film or television series is not new. In fact, even before hair color was utilized, the use of white and black hats to visually depict good and bad guys has been used since the early days of television.

Magical Case Study In Hair Color

Rose, who is naturally brunette, was considered a controversial show addition by some of the fans and media. Doubt about how Rose would fit in with the two gorgeous Charmed sisters played by Alyssa Milano as wild child Phoebe and wise older sister Piper, played by Holly Marie Combs, was expressed.

(Image of Rose McGowan as Paige on WB's Charmed - Photo Credit: The WB /Richard Cartwright - all rights reserved - October, 2001).

Some fans felt that Rose could never step into the strong acting shoes of the departing Prudence. Other fans who loved her fascinating performances in Scream and the cult classic, Devil In The Flesh, felt she was a perfect cast substitution.

Regardless of fan and media concerns, following behind an established actress and her characterization is always a hard act to follow. If you don't believe me, just ask Carmen Electra who followed Jenny McCarthy and Pamela Anderson in two popular TV roles.

The interesting thing about Rose McGowan as Paige is how her initial style and look was presented. WB's Charmed is definitely a show that includes a lot of visual clues.

Just think about it. Not only do the sisters wear a lot of chic fashion trends, they are either fighting a range of demons outfitted in all types of costumes or hanging at P3, the Halliwell's happening club.

Walking A Mile In Prue's Shoes

When Paige was first introduced, the character had a low key relatively normal job working as an assistant social worker. Her hair, makeup and dress was mostly appropriate for someone with her career and lifestyle. She lived alone and seemed to have a fairly average existence.

She also sported somewhat nondescript borderline mousey brown, shoulder length locks that always seemed to lack a lot of control.

Paige's initial style was definitely not that of a new witch learning to "orb" in and out between worldly planes.

(Image of Rose McGowan as Paige on WB's Charmed - First Appearance On Show - Photo Credit: The WB /Richard Cartwright - all rights reserved - October, 2001).

As the Season progressed and Paige struggled to accept some unusual powers and her legacy to battle against evil, her tresses started to evolve along with her character.

(Pictured: Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews - Photo Credit: The WB/ Danny Feld - April 2002 episode).

Her initial non-descript hairstyle blossomed into a longer, softer and more sultry textured image. The basic brown slowly changed to a deeper, richer, more chocolately hue.

Learning to integrate into the Halliwell female clan also influenced her fashion sense.

The fairly conservative blouses and skirts were replaced by an edgier wardrobe including halter tops, lots of midriff bearing low slung jeans.

Whether Rose as Paige was a perfect cast addition or not, during the wane of her first season with the show all three of the Halliwell sisters had similar brunette hues at the same time.

(Pictured left to right): Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews, Holly Marie Combs as Piper Halliwell, Alyssa Milano as Phoebe Halliwell - May 2002 - Womb Raider).

Although Holly Marie Combs as Piper is constant in her adoption of long silky, brown locks, Alyssa Milano is famous for constant hair hue, length and style changes.

My reaction to the three sisters sporting similar hair colors and styles was the acceptance of the fact that Paige had finally become part of the Halliwell sisterhood.

Maybe the fact that all three sisters had similar hair was an coincidence.

Or maybe the wily producers used the hairstyles to subliminally signal the audience that Paige's initiation into the family was complete. It definitely seemed to me to symbolize the ultimate unification of the sisters as a true family.

(Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews on WB's Charmed in Long Live The Queen Episode - April, 2003 - Photo Credit: The WB/ Paul McCallum).

By the last show of Rose's first season (October 2001 - May, 2002) her hair had changed appropriately according to the development of her character as totally onboard with her new family of sisters.

Seeing Red

When Season 5 of the popular TV show started, Rose McGowen as Paige, had let her strands grow longer. They also had undergone a dramatic color change.

(Charmed "A Witch's Tail - Part 1& 2"Pictured: Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews - September, 2002 - Photo Credit: The WB/ Paul McCallum.)

It was revealed that the character of Paige had not yet come to grips with all the many nuances of witchcraft. Although she had quit her social work job and moved into the Halliwell mansion to be a "full time witch", she was restless and trying to find herself. She embarked on a journey of temporary jobs in her search for a career and to find her true purpose in life.

Not only had Rose's natural light chocolate locks had been gloriously transformed to a vibrant shade of red, they were coiffed shorter in a glorious, saucy shoulder-skimming bob by the second episode of the season.

(Pictured: Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews on The WB's Charmed Credit: Andrew Macpherson/WB - Fall 2002).

Rose's color change generated wildly positive fan and media response . Not only did Rose McGowan look smashing as a redhead, it worked well with the development of her character.

Indeed as Rose cycled through a series of bizarre temporary jobs her quirky, fiercely rebellious and passionate personality emerged in balance with her ruby red follicles.

Displaying some of the commonly held traits of redheads, Paige expressed a passionate love of life as well as a budding sense of mischief. She began to really speak her mind even when it caused some head butting with boyfriends and her sisters.

Her wardrobe for the Fall 2002 - Spring 2003 season also changed and she adopted a bold, saucy and fashion forward style.

By the Fall of 2003, Paige was a true character force to be reckoned with. Her hair was still in the ruby hue family, but at the far end of the lightness scale.

(Pictured: Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews Photo Credit: The WB/Timothy White - Photo. All rights reserved - Fall 2003).

Her locks were also longer and very sleek. Her character was well developed, strong and she was quickly becoming more level headed and dependable than Phoebe or wildly distracted Piper.

Fade Back To Brown

As the 2003-2004 Season evolved, Rose's character Paige found herself supporting her two sisters in a series of difficult trials and tribulations. Not only was Piper dealing with the impending birth of a second child, but Phoebe was desperately searching for the right husband to marry.

(Pictured: Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews - Charmed - "Hyde School Reunion" - Photo Credit: The WB/Mitchell Haddad - All rights reserved. 3-14-04).

As if to reflect a much more serious and somber attitude, by the end of 2004, Paige again appeared in a brunette shade with a hint of auburn highlights.


Ironically, before my own obsession with hair took hold in the late 80s, I would probably would never have even connected the dots with the Paige/Rose hair color evolution.

Since I freely admit that I eat, sleep and think hair on a regular basis, I have been watching the hair color cycling with amazement and fascination.

(Pictured: Rose McGowan as Paige Matthews - "A Wrong Day's Journey into Right" Photo Credit: The WB/Richard Cartwright - Episode Date: May 2, 2004).

Whether it was planned or an accident of the hair gods, the transition of Rose McGowan's Charmed character was a fascinating study in how personality and attitude can be clearly telegraphed through color.

Regardless of the true reasons of why and how Rose/Paige has gone through so many hair colors, I commend the Charmed producers, their on-set hairdressers, stylists and anyone else that helped to create this subliminal masterpiece.

Gee, my college "Movies As Art & Psychology" would be proud.

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