'Scissorhands' stylists used wire, other materials for bizarre hairstyles

SHEAR WONDERS

January 03, 1991|By Susan M. Barbieri | Susan M. Barbieri,Orlando Sentinel

In the fairy-tale film "Edward Scissorhands," Johnny Depp plays a man whose inventor dies before he can finish building his humanoid. Edward has everything he needs to lead a full life -- except real hands.

Edward's hands are sharp metal shears that are capable of both great harm and great creativity. He lives alone in a hilltop mansion until one day he is rescued by an Avon lady and taken to suburbia. There, he displays his sculpting talent on shrubbery, dogs and, finally, on the neighborhood women's hair.

Edward's style is, well, different. We're talking hair that stands on end in styles you haven't seen since the Early Patti LaBelle Epoch.

We're talking mondo-bizarro, post-punk hair that goes well beyond the average, ho-hum spiked 'do. We're talking topiary hair designs your juniper bushes only dream about.

Longwood, Fla., hairdresser Lynda Kyle Walker was among the stylists who helped turn director Tim Burton's dream into a reality . . . of sorts. Ms. Walker and six others, including Disney stylist Liz Spang, were the real hands behind "Scissorhands."

And they did it without hedge trimmers, pruners or weed-whackers.

When not working on film sets, Ms. Walker works at a Florida hair salon. She put in 12- to 15-hour days for five weeks on "Scissorhands," and is currently keeping the same pace on the set of "Oscar," a film set in the 1930s starring Sylvester Stallone.

"Working on film is a lot different than working in a salon. You're working with a lot of wigs," Ms. Walker said. There were 19 wigs for 19 extras in "Scissorhands," and Ms. Walker worked on most of them. She followed the designs of Yolanda Toussieng, a California hairstylist who works in film.

"These are very expensive wigs. They were anywhere from $750 to $2,500. So if you cut it and you don't cut it right, you can't get another wig," she said.

Each wig was colored, cut, styled and formed into fanciful shapes -- in some cases using wire. Ms. Walker would not say exactly what kinds of materials were used to make some of the more elaborate designs stand straight up, but some hairdressers say industrial-strength gel and even glue are sometimes used to make hair defy gravity.

"No one has any idea how much work and time goes into prepping a wig," Ms. Walker said. "The actors have to be measured for their head size. They're handmade, either in California or New York, by wig makers. It's real hair, and it's all done by hand. Each little piece is put in and tied by hand."

Actors who didn't wear wigs in the film wore hairpieces, she said. "I put the hair extensions in for Johnny Depp's hair -- the long pieces you see coming out of his head. Then we did the neighborhood women."

Will the shrub-head look play in Peoria? Will trendy types ask tonsorial artists to turn their tresses into tres chic topiary?

"It's hard to guess with John Q. Public," said Ms. Walker.

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