They’re glamorous, ageless and British – the rise of the high-end hun

Glamorous, ageless and peerless at throwing parties, these ladies don't need an excuse to have a good time
Glamorous, ageless and peerless at throwing parties, these ladies don't need an excuse to have a good time

It’s January, and you’ve already hosted your first kitchen disco of 2023, after “just the one” Gavi di Gavi turned into a tad more. It was a laugh, getting out the disco ball, cranking up the Beosound and dancing on the Corian worktops, though you regret waking Ottilie on a school night.

“What am I like?” you asked yourself, rhetorically, as you often do. Answer: you are a hun – but a high-end hun, one who knows her wine, her music, her interiors and her labels, and whose reluctance to do Dry January, or go vegan makes her such great company, this month and every month.

High-end huns are glamorous, ageless and peerless at throwing parties. They don’t need an excuse to have a good time, nor do they need copious amounts of alcohol: it’s not good for their biome. They might always have a glass in hand, but their wine will be judiciously diluted with ice cubes, or watered down with San Pel.

The White Lotus actress Jennifer Coolidge is their current girl crush, as much for her wit as her style, for while an American can’t ever truly be a hun, Coolidge gets honorary membership.

Jennifer Coolidge - Chris Pizzello
Jennifer Coolidge - Chris Pizzello

They are also into Carol Vorderman, the 62 year-old, Cambridge-educated former Countdown host who recently confessed she has five lovers, a situation she described as “a little bit of icing on the cake”. Spoken like a true hun – as was her rule that her sexual arrangements should “do no harm” to any others (a true hun puts “sisters before misters” all the way). 

Founding principles

Hun culture is nothing new, of course. Some argue it has its genesis in ladette culture, that 1990s phenomenon that saw women being chastised for acting “like the lads” by a patriarchy that believed drinking, swearing and being opinionated didn’t constitute ladylike behaviour.

Carol Vorderman - David M. Benett
Carol Vorderman - David M. Benett

While these three qualities alone don’t make a hun, they are still its founding principles – particularly the latter, for if you are not opinionated, you cannot be a hun.

That said opinions might amount to nothing more contentious than “literally can’t believe some ppl’s brass neck!” or “absolut snakes the lot of them grrr I’ve had it time to focus on me” matters not: what matters is the drama. And also, the complete absence of punctuation. Lynne Truss be damned: life’s too short for commas. The hun’s personal creed is “live laugh love and abbreviate every word you can.”

Hun culture first took off in 2012, via a parody Twitter account called @uokhun, a play on the phrase running rampant on social media at the time.

In 2017, Instagram accounts @LoveofHuns (680k followers) and Hunsnet (222k followers) launched; their popularity soaring during lockdown, a time when people craved levity, and also yearned to feel connected to a tribe. With its inclusive sense of humour, hun culture isn’t bitchy, nor are its memes dark. Rather, it’s playful, always laughing “with” not “at”.

Uniquely British

It’s also uniquely British, with high concentrations of hundom in Cheshire, Liverpool, Newcastle and Essex. “Hun culture is usually self-deprecating, as is the British sense of humour,” notes Hunsnet founder Gareth Howells, whose Instagram account has spawned merchandise, a podcast and two books.

“It’s also the perfect crossover of celebrity and pedestrian situations. Brits know how to celebrate and find humour in the ordinary. Likewise, the hun can take the most mundane situation and find the ‘iconic’ in it.”

Which is possibly why Gemma Collins – the blonde, leopard print-loving reality TV star who in 2019 told Theresa May “if you need some help [getting Brexit done] hun, I’m free for an hour after the show” – is one of its most oft-cited incarnations.

Creatures of paradox

An example of high-end hunnery is surely Kate Moss. But only Cosmoss-era Kate Moss (named after the wellness brand she launched last year), for supermodel-era Kate Moss never complained and never explained, two features that would automatically disbar her from the hun club.

Kate Moss - Pascal Le Segretain
Kate Moss - Pascal Le Segretain

However much one senses that Kate would have preferred to spend the rest of her career gazing silently and enigmatically from the pages of Vogue, she is, like all huns, a pragmatist. She knew that launching a wellness range would require her to promote it, which would require her to speak.

That she helped fund a holistic, all-natural wellness range with a lucrative contract as the face of Diet Coke is 100% pure hun. To be a hun is to be a Bovary-esque creature of paradox, who eats salad by day and curry by night, and preaches ‘good vibes only’ but bitches about their ex.

Main character energy

Like the original hun, the high-end hun is inclusive, positive, female-focused and hilarious – not always intentionally. Where she chiefly differs is in her budget and presentation. She loves leopard print, but only from Ganni (although M&S will also do). Her ideal winter coat is cream, possibly with a fur-trimmed collar, but worn with what she calls “joggers” but huns call ‘“trackie Bs”.

Like every hun, she loves a scented candle, but hers are organic, while her neck-mess is a melange of Missoma, Monica Vinader and Cartier. As with traditional huns, the high-end hun is best explained via a series of examples. She’s Charlotte Tilbury, Sarah Ferguson, Mary Portas, Victoria Beckham, Fran Cutler, Davina McCall, Nigella Lawson and Adele.

With the exception of Fergie – the only member of the Royal family who could be described as a hun – these women are hard working, self-made and full of the “main character energy” that is essential to being a hun.

Sarah Ferguson - Daniele Venturelli
Sarah Ferguson - Daniele Venturelli

To this list, you could also add Fat Tony, the Gucci and Dior-clad DJ who fought addiction, wrote a bestselling memoir and is DJ of choice at fashion parties. His Full Fat Brunch events are a mecca for huns, who relish the chance to wear sequins, dance to Show Me Love by Robin S, quaff some bubbles and still be home in time for dinner.

While you might baulk at being a hun, it’s a wonderful club to be in. “Anyone can be a bit of a hun, whether literally or vicariously,” says Howells.

“If you enjoy living your best life with your group of girlies – the collective term whatever your gender – whether it’s having a bottomless brunch or anything else where you can make memories and chat about past faux pas, you’re probably a hun.”   

Five signs that you're a high-end hun

Your favourite drink is posh tequila

While your midweek drink of choice is rosé (affectionately known as “bitch diesel”), you wouldn’t be a high-end hun if you didn’t finish the night off by bellowing loudly for a round of tequila shots – but not the brown tequila, the clear tequila.

You believe in maintenance sex

Sexual activity can often decline in a long-term marriage  But those partnered with high-end huns are fortunate, for you are a firm believer in maintenance sex, and have the expensive lingerie drawer to prove it.

While you enjoy lovemaking for its mental and physical benefits (“Why do you think J-Lo looks so hot at 53?” you will counsel less libidinous friends), you also enjoy its accoutrements, Agent Provocateur bra and We-Vibe Chorus among them.   

You’re obsessed with lip plumper

La Mer’s Lip Volumizer, Too Faced’s Lip Injection, Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk… you’ve tried the lot. Nothing beats a subtle injection of Juviei, but between appointments, a lip plumper will do, preferably one that gives a glossy sheen.

But not a gloopy sheen, for no hun wants strands of hair stuck to her lips when she’s going about her business. Your general rule of thumb: if it doesn’t tingle, it doesn’t work.

You hate exercise

Long before Kim Kardashian launched Skims, you owned an arsenal of shapewear, and still think Spanx are best, because you’re loyal that way. You’re also lazy that way. You’ve tried yoga, pilates and wild swimming, have the full kit for all three, and can frequently be found in your local park, wearing your Hokas, your Lululemon and your Dryrobe while walking Queenie, your cavapoo.   

You overuse the word “hun”

No matter that you went to Bedales: you prefer to speak in mockney tones. Your language is likewise more colloquial than your expensive education might suggest: you call your friends, your mother and even your children “hun”, though never your mother-in-law: she wouldn’t get it – just as she wouldn’t get that you’re in a WhatsApp group called The Hackney Huns/Huns On The Lash/The Total Slags.