Hillary Clinton's Long-time Hairstylist Shares Secrets Behind The Diplomat's Ever-Changing Hair

Isabelle Goetz has been doing the Clinton's hair since the late 1990s.

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Sen. Hillary Clinton looks at a customer during an autograph session in New York's Rockefeller Center on June 9, 2003.

The bangs. The headbands. The hair flip. The paillettes.

The public's obsession over Hillary Clinton's hair choices stretches back to her days as first lady. And the now-Secretary of State's tresses were back in the spotlight when she wore a scrunchie to visit Burmese opposition politician Aung-San Suu Kyi earlier this year.

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Behind many of Clinton's hair ups and downs is one woman: a petite French hairstylist named Isabelle Goetz.

Originally from the northern French region of Bessancourt—and now settled in America with her own chic salon in Georgetown—Goetz has been working for Clinton since the late 1990s. The then-first lady discovered Goetz after facing criticism for too many hairstyles and too-expensive cuts, and the young Frenchwoman soon became her personal stylist.

Through visits to the White House and travels with the first lady, Goetz reined in the media criticism of Clinton's hairstyles. The stylist slowly layered Clinton's trademark bob, and then cut her hair much shorter. "But she never directed me about what to do," Goetz tells Whispers. Clinton kept the mostly well-received short cut for years.

More recently, the Secretary of State has grown her hair longer, even putting it up in hasty ponytails—something Goetz doesn't take credit for. Goetz doesn't take credit for the infamous scrunchie either, saying she had given Clinton an unobtrustive metal clip to wear for the meeting.

"But I only see her now when she is in town, which is not often," she tells Whispers. "With her crazy schedule, [the ponytail] is what she wants."

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The Secretary of State has also become more dismissive over time of the attention paid to her hair (and clothes). In May, she told CNN she wasn't going to worry about media criticism of her looks any more at this age. When a moderator of a panel in Kyrgyzstan asked her in 2010 which clothing designers she preferred, Clinton shot back: "Would you ever ask a man that question?" The moderator admitted: "Probably not."

Goetz says she never understood all the negative attention paid to Clinton's looks. "I always wondered why people are so focused on her hair... or say they think it should be one way or the other," she says. "But I decided that, like the Queen of England, she is too big not to talk about."

Goetz has written a book about her experiences with Clinton, called "Little Isabelle : une française à la Maison-Blanche," or "A Frenchwoman Goes To The White House." But the stylist also has big clients outside the White House, having tended to the hair of Sen. John Kerry and Queen Rania of Jordan. Back in 2004, rumors flew that Kerry, a presidential contender, paid $1,000 to fly Goetz to Pittsburgh for a last-minute touch up before appearing on "Meet the Press." In 2006, Clinton reportedly spent $2,500 over two months getting her tresses done by Goetz as she campaigned for Senate.

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Goetz says she doesn't know yet what Clinton's hair will look like on Inauguration Day. But her salon in Georgetown, "Isabelle's OKYO Salon," held an event on Saturday to show off the styles it found appropriate for the ceremony. The event, put on by the D.C.-based group Art Soiree, featured styles that were entirely French-inspired: channeling Marie Antoinette, Coco Chanel and Bridget Bardot.

Goetz won't say whether Clinton's inauguration hair will similarly be inspired by her home country.

"We didn't talk about her hair for her daughter's wedding until the day of," Goetz laughs. "Her hair on inauguration day will... depend on the weather."

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  • Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at eflock@usnews.com.