Elle Fanning Finally Has the Haircut She's Always Wanted for a Surprising Reason

The actress tells 'Marie Claire' why she's ready for a short hair summer.

Elle fanning wearing chanel at the 2024 cannes film festival
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In the early days of getting a new, significantly shorter haircut, it's all I can think about. I can't resist the compulsion to run my fingers through my hair or do a double (or triple) take in a mirror, reveling in how much lighter I feel. Elle Fanning, debuting a bouncy, just-below-the-chin-length bob at the Cannes Film Festival, is currently in that stage.

"It's never been this short ever," Fanning tells me on a video call from the L'Oréal Paris suite at Hôtel Martinez in Cannes, France. She fluffs the slightly, curled edges and tosses her head side-to-side to show off the length—a massive departure from the long, ribcage-length hair she's known for onscreen (in period dramas like The Great) and off (strolling through New York City in her favorite dresses). "It feels so good."

Elle Fanning on the balcony of her Cannes Film Festival hotel wearing a black vintage Chanel dress and a black bow

Elle Fanning complemented her short bob at Cannes with a vintage Chanel dress, sourced from Shrimpton Couture.

(Image credit: @samanthanmcmillen_stylist)

Elle Fanning at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival wearing a long backless dress by Gucci

To attend the 2024 Cannes Film Festival closing ceremony, Fanning wore a backless Gucci dress from the label's Resort 2025 collection.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Most people make a hair transformation like Fanning's exactly when they want to. But the actress, who says she'd always wanted to have a dramatic lob, had her characters to consider. She just wrapped a run on Broadway alongside Sarah Paulson in the play Appropriate, and her alter-ego had long hair with grown-out roots.

By the time the play closed, her roots "ere like down to here"—she gestures halfway down the length of her current chop—"and my hair just hadn't been cut in a while." (The things we do for art!) But her next role wouldn't hold her back from the haircut she always wanted.

Starting production on the Bob Dylan biopic A Complete Unknown alongside Timothée Chalamet this spring, Fanning found a workaround. "I knew I was wearing a wig in the movie I'm doing now. So I think I was free to do whatever," she says. "I wasn't held to a character and I thought, let's do it for summer."

Elle Fanning and Timothee Chalamet on the set of Elle Fanning's new bob dylan biopic

Elle Fanning is currently filming a Bob Dylan biopic with Timothée Chalamet. Since Fanning is wearing a wig for the role, she felt like she could do whatever she wanted with her hair underneath.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In her short hair era, Fanning has discovered an entirely new outlook on style. "This haircut is also informing so many different outfit decisions and I feel like I can wear things now that I couldn't necessarily wear before," she says.

For Cannes, Fanning says the bob enhances a "preppy" side she didn't know she had. She leaned into it with lacy, vintage Chanel dresses and a black bow pinned into a teased, half-up, half-down hairstyle for her first day of the festival.

Elle Fanning wearing a glass balmain dress at the 2024 met gala

At the 2024 Met Gala, Fanning accentuated her glass gown with a dewy, almost wet beauty look and a slightly longer bob.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Even when she's out of character, Fanning sees beauty as a narrative she builds with help from her clothing. "I really think it's all about a story that you're trying to tell," she explains. For the Met Gala, she wanted to look like glass—so she literally commissioned a glass dress from Balmain, and "then on my body, I was like really shiny." For the South of France, she wants to be Old Hollywood with a preppy twist, so she's combining spring suiting and sundresses with her fresh new cut.

"One thing informs the other," Fanning says. And regardless of how she styles her hair, it's exactly what she wants.

Shop Elle Fanning's Cannes Hair and Makeup Essentials

Halie LeSavage
Senior News Editor (Fashion & Beauty)

Halie LeSavage is the senior fashion and beauty news editor at Marie Claire, where she assigns, edits, and writes stories for both sections. Halie is an expert on runway trends, celebrity style, emerging fashion and beauty brands, and shopping (naturally). In over seven years as a professional journalist, Halie’s reporting has ranged from fashion week coverage spanning the Copenhagen, New York, Milan, and Paris markets, to profiles on industry insiders including stylist Alison Bornstein and J.Crew womenswear creative director Olympia Gayot, to breaking news stories on noteworthy brand collaborations and beauty launches. (She can personally confirm that Bella Hadid’s Ôrebella perfume is worth the hype.) She has also written dozens of research-backed shopping guides to finding the best tote bags, ballet flats, and more. Most of all, Halie loves to explore what trends—like the rise of doll-like Mary Janes or TikTok’s 75 Hard Style Challenge—can say about culture writ large. (She justifies almost any purchase by saying it’s “for work.”) Halie has previously held writer and editor roles at Glamour, Morning Brew, and Harper’s Bazaar. Halie has been cited as a fashion and beauty expert in The Cut, CNN Underscored, and Reuters, among other outlets, and appears in newsletters like Selleb and Self-Checkout to provide shopping recommendations. In 2022, she was awarded the Hearst Spotlight Award for excellence and innovation in fashion journalism. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Harvard College. Outside of work, Halie is passionate about books, baking, and her miniature Bernedoodle, Dolly. For a behind-the-scenes look at her reporting, you can follow Halie on Instagram and TikTok.