Jennifer Aniston's 'Rachel' Haircut: The Story Behind the Iconic Photo of Her Wildly Popular 'Friends' Hairdo

"In one photo, you sort of mock it, pay tribute to it and salute it," said Robert Trachtenberg, who photographed Aniston

Jennifer Aniston has donned countless hairdos throughout her decades in Hollywood — but there’s one that the actress would like to forget.

While starring on Friends for 10 seasons as Rachel Green, her character’s hairstyle took on a life of its own and was dubbed “The Rachel.”

In 1995, photographer Robert Trachtenberg acknowledged “what a gigantic presence in pop culture [Rachel’s] hair was” in a photo for Entertainment Weekly, which is featured in PEOPLE’s 100 Best Celebrity Photos. (The book is by the editors of PEOPLE, with an introduction by PEOPLE Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle.)

“You can’t put together the 1oo Best Celebrity Photos of all time and not include ‘The Rachel.’ That was the name of Jennifer Aniston’s haircut, which, after Friends, became a huge success — sort of took on a life of its own,” Cagle explains. “It became a star in its own right. Today, Jennifer Aniston’s haircut would have its own Twitter feed.”

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Trachtenberg came up with the concept of a wig shop window, where Aniston’s head was positioned between multiple wig heads.

“It was just a hairdo and it became this national phenomenon. So I threw the dice and suggested we kind of mock it and she loved the idea of making fun of it,” Trachtenberg explains. “She was incredibly uncomfortable and had to stick her head through a wooden hole, but she was a real trooper about it.”

Jennifer Aniston1995 photo by Robert Trachtenberg
Robert Trachtenberg

He adds: “In one photo, you sort of mock it, pay tribute to it and salute it.”

In the February 2011 issue of Allure, Aniston, 48, admitted that she wasn’t in love with the flippy ’90s hairdo.

“Let’s say there have been moments I’d rather not relive, like that whole Rachel thing,” she laughed. “How do I say this? I think it was the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen. What I really want to know is, how did that thing have legs?”

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