By SARA NATHAN
New look: Cheryl Cole shows her colours as she visits the US Embassy
Like an X Factor reject, that big blousy brunette look was never going to last the distance. So Cheryl Cole has cut her losses and gone sleek. And blonder.
The singer showed off her new hairstyle as she emerged in public for the first time since her dreams of winning over America were left in tatters.
Miss Cole, who turns 28 today and will celebrate with a £20,000 party tomorrow night, is keen to forget the humiliation of being axed as a judge from X Factor USA after four days. A friend said she was making a fresh start – and going blonde was the first step.
The singer has sent a stylish purple and black invite to friends including her Girls Aloud bandmates Kimberley Walsh, Nicola Roberts and Sarah Harding, X Factor judges and record company executives.
The location has been kept secret so far, but reads: ‘You are invited to celebrate Cheryl’s birthday. Friday 1st July. 9pm til late. Venue to be advised.’
Second step is a little more time out. ‘Cheryl has had a long year, everything has really taken its toll. She’s taking some time to work out what she wants to do now. It’s a new year, a new look.’
Light weight: Cheryl sports a shorter blonde cut for summer
Miss Cole arrived at the American embassy in Grosvenor Square, London yesterday to collect the U.S. work visa that would have allowed her to join Simon Cowell on the U.S. show.
She looked happy and healthy as she strode through the sunny London streets dressed in a black jacket, a £130 Stella McCartney vest top emblazoned with tulips, tight black jeans and towering black boots.
Elegant: Miss Cole yesterday and, with big hair, in the US
‘The application had already gone through from when she was doing the U.S. X Factor and it was the final date to complete it otherwise it would have to be done again,’ a source said. ‘What’s good is that now she can work in America whenever she wants – so she can still crack the States.’
When a star usually emerges with a drastic makeover it usually signals one thing – they have something to hawk.
And so, questions quickly arose when Cheryl Cole emerged from five weeks in hiding sporting a brand-new blonde bob.
Lighter shade of Cheryl. She shows off her new hair style and colour
It was the first time she had been seen since her American dreams were left in tatters after being axed from the X Factor USA last month.
Considering the last time she made such a drastic change was when she dyed her hair bright red last October as part of her deal with French beauty brand, L’Oreal, it was a question worth asking.
What new project was she attempting to promote, did she have a new album - and what point was she attempting to make?
Stepping out: Cheryl Cole calls in at the US Embassy to collect her visa
But surprisingly, a close friend told the Daily Mail that Mrs Cole had chopped off her long brunette mane – always supplemented by expensive extensions – to make a fresh start in her life.
And this will entail the petite star taking a small break from showbiz, as the friend said: ‘Cheryl has had a long year, everything has really taken its toll. She’s taking some time to work out what she wants to do now.
‘She’s not retiring or giving up showbusiness, she just wants a short break.’
Judge for yourself: X factor judges Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Dannii Minogue and Louis Walsh
The source added: ‘Cheryl is on fine form – she had a very rocky few weeks, but she’s just looking forward to a new year and to celebrating her birthday with her friends tomorrow night.
‘It’s a new year, a new look – she wanted a change and she wanted to feel free.’
Stressful: Divorce from Ashley Cole
Simon Cowell, 51, admitted he had received a message from Mrs Cole saying she felt ‘let down’ by him, adding: ‘A hundred per cent I have to take full responsibility, because I do have a lot of sway.
‘The hardest thing to accept is that everyone has painted me as a monster because I embarrassed her. But the truth was I was protecting her.
‘I apologise that all this has become public and I understand the stress she is under, and I hate that… I am sorry this has caused so much anguish and embarrassment, but I stand by what I believe was the right intention. And I would say that to her face right now.’
During her time in seclusion, it was revealed Mrs Cole had struck up a close friendship with her ex-husband, cheating Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole - and had even spent the night at their former marital home in Hurtmore, Surrey.
Friends denied that they had shared a bed.