This week in nostalgia history: The Paris Hilton birthday tour, Britney Spears’ shaved head and more
WRITING: MUSKAN THIND
Welcome to this week in nostalgia history, where we deliver you from the hellscape that is the Covid-19 pandemic. Escape from reality with headlines from the ’90s, ‘2000s and beyond, such as the ultimate Paris Hilton birthday extravaganza in 2002, Destiny’s Child’s “final” performance in 2006 and the time Britney Spears shaved her head. Stressful times require a therapeutic approach and what’s better than looking back at wild headlines that preceded this wild moment in time.
Britney Spears goes bald, February 16, 2007
Britney Spears reached a breaking point on February 16, 2007, when she fled her rehabilitation clinic in Antigua, California and turned up at ex-husband Kevin Federline’s house, asking to see their two sons, Sean and Jayden. When he refused, she made her way to a nearby hair salon and asked hairdresser, Esther Tognozzi, to shave her head. Tognozzi pleaded with Spears to not do it, but when she turned her back, Spears grabbed her clippers and shaved off her own chocolate locks. “She had two bodyguards supposedly keeping an eye out to make sure the paparazzi were not getting any pictures,” Tognozzi recalled in a Channel 5 documentary. There were, however, more than 70 photographers standing outside of the hair salon trying to get a photo of bald Spears. “I thought they were going to kill each other. They were trying to pile up on top of each other to get a picture and the one bodyguard was actually covering the front door with a cape,” Tognozzi remembers.
Spears then went to the closest tattoo parlour and asked tattoo artist, Emily Wayne-Hughes, for a tattoo of a woman’s lips and a cross. Wynne-Hughes told interviewers, “[I heard] an insane roaring sound outside. I wasn’t sure what was happening, if there was a riot outside and then the flashes came…I noticed her hair was gone. I remember asking her, “why do you shave your head?’” She claims Spears told her, “It was, you know, ‘I just don’t want anybody, anybody touching my head. I don’t want anyone touching my hair. I’m sick of people touching my hair.” Both Tognozzi and Wayne-Hughes recalled the presence of her bodyguards and noted that they just stood back and let her do whatever she wanted. Almost like they were waiting for her to break. Days later, Spears attacked a photographer’s car with an umbrella at a gas station.
As detailed in the recent Framing Britney Spears documentary, the popstar’s breakdown came after years of press scrutiny, unrelenting paparazzi attention and tight-fisted control by the executives in charge of her career. With the rise of the #freebritney movement, we have all begun to see the events of 2007 in a different light, to say the least.
Paris Hilton turns 21 six times, February 17, 2002
Paris Hilton entered her 21st year with a bang, with six birthday parties in six different countries, over several months, letting the world know she was finally legal in all 50 American states. The socialite turned model, pop star, DJ and fragrance mogul started the festivities at The Bellagio in Las Vegas. “I would always go [to Vegas] with a fake ID, so this was the first time I went legally,” she told V Magazine.
The Paris Hilton birthday extravaganza didn’t end there. She then hit up the Big Apple, where she recreated Studio 54, the 1970s hotspot where her parents had hobnobbed with the likes of Andy Warhol. Hugh Hefner and Kris Jenner were only a few of the A-listers in attendance and Hilton showed up in a turquoise ruffed Heatherette dress, complete with figure skater-worthy Swarovski crystals down the sides. Hilton completed the look with a tiara.
“Then I went to Paris, France, and did a huge party there, because you know, Paris in Paris,” she continued in V. The next stop was London, where she donned the now-iconic silver chainmail halter dress by British designer Julien Macdonald. “When I saw it, I was like, oh my God, this dress is everything,” she said. Decades later, the dress is a source of inspiration for many, including Kendall Jenner, who wore a replica to her own 21st birthday in 2016.
Hilton then held a bash for her thousands of fans in Tokyo before heading home to Los Angeles where she kept it as intimate with family and friends. When she returned from her whirlwind Paris Hilton birthday tour, her home was fittingly flooded with jewellery, flowers and a silver Porsche. Now that’s what you call #sliving.
Destiny’s Child bids farewell at the NBA All-Star Game, February 19, 2006
“Kelly, can you handle this? Michelle, can you handle this? Beyoncé, can you handle this? I don’t think they can handle this!” It’s almost as if the lyrics to “Bootylicious” knew we were never going to be able to handle the end of Destiny’s Child.
After announcing their split during a concert in Barcelona during the summer of 2005, saying “After all these wonderful years working together, we realized that now is the time to pursue our personal goals and solo efforts in earnest,” Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams went on to play the rest of their final tour, “Destiny Fulfilled… and Lovin’ it.” During their last stop in Vancouver, Rowland broke out in to tears on stage, telling Williams and Knowles, “I love you. You are my angels. I love y’all so much.” Beyonce continued the heartfelt speech, stating, “Destiny’s Child started when we were nine years old. This isn’t something somebody put together. This is love.”
The trio’s farewell came in February of 2006, when they performed the American national anthem at the NBA All-Star game in their hometown of Houston, Texas. Knowles promised that it wouldn’t be their last show, though. “Every time we go on someone’s television show, they want to be the person to say it’s the last show…but we’ve said a million times, ‘It’s not the last show!’ Because we’re gonna sing together again, again and again. We love each other and we’re friends. It’s the last album, but it’s not the last show.” Queen Bey held true to her word, bringing back Rowland and Williams for at the Fashion Rocks benefit concert in New York a few days later, at the 2013 Super Bowl Halftime Show and her landmark 2018 Coachella performance.