A plain bob won't cut it and a natural face won't make it. The look this holiday season is all done up.
The style emulates Hollywood pin-up glamour of the '40s and '50s, when stars were groomed, polished and beautifully draped for their grand entrances -- nothing like today's film idols who show up for gala premieres in jeans and run-amok hair.
The return to dramatic coiffures and maquillage brings with it a new salon experience. Upswept and artfully arranged hair means extra time for a set, time under the dryer and back to the stylist for a comb-out and do. This could be the get-away that busy women need during the holiday rush -- a chance to catch up on gossip and the fashion magazines while waiting for their glamorous selves to emerge from the dryer.
"The better shops are serving wine and snacks and getting away from that cut-and-go factory atmosphere," says Kevin Depew, who styled the hair for this cover photo and works at Washington's Norbert salon. "Women want to be pampered again. The 25-to-35 age group is asking for real coifs and sets. They're even willing to withstand teasing, which is still the only way to get a complex hairdo. Even the women who were stuck on those awful Hillary headbands are now asking me for '40s sideswept and rolled looks."
Doing sets and dos is more creative than stamping out cookie-cutter hair, Mr. Depew says. "If anyone had told me 5 years ago that I would be doing sets, I would have laughed, but now I really enjoy it. And a fanciful hairdo is temporary, not like a cut, so there is so much more room to dramatize."
Mr. Depew says glamour can be created at home, too. "The girl we used [in the cover photo] has average-length hair, and the style looks hard to do but it's really very simple," he says. "Anybody can reproduce it. Take the sides and sweep them up into a twist. Be sure to anchor the hair securely. Then take the hair at the top and roll strands into big loopy curls and pin them in place. The whole effect can be done in 10 or 15 minutes, depending on skill."
He suggests a quick glamour look for medium- to chin-length hair that is held together by hair spray or setting gel:
"Set dry hair in Velcro rollers, then mist with hair spray and heat hair up with a blow dryer for about 3 minutes. Let hair cool down and remove rollers. Throw head upside-down and shake out with fingers, then throw head back and spray into place."
Mr. Depew assures us that the hair will fall into Cindy Crawford waves. Let's hope. At any rate, the bending and tossing will bring some blood and flush to the cheeks, and that's good for any complexion.
It is interesting to note that as hair fashions turn back the decades, old products and styling tools are also being revived.
"Women who are old enough to remember Dippity-Do, Brylcreem and Alberto VO5 hair dressing and pomades will find they do the same job they have always done and are still readily available," Mr. Depew says. "And the advantage of a product like Alberto VO-5 is that unlike some newer styling gels, it doesn't dry out the hair and leaves it soft."
Younger women, who have grown up with wash-and-wear hair that requires nothing more than shampoo, conditioner and a styling brush, will need to practice with some new hair tools.
"Velcro rollers are the greatest invention for the hair market in the last 10 years," Mr. Depew says. "They do the job fast because they're self-gripping, require no pins, and they are really inexpensive -- a package of 12 runs about $3."
He even suggests seeking out the old padded hair donuts that are still available at the local five-and-dime.
"It's the technique to making an up-do. You simply pull your hair into a ponytail at the top of the head, pull it all through the hole and wrap and pin hair into place around it. The same technique, with the ponytail brought to the base of the skull, creates and elegant chignon."
Mr. Depew is also enthusiastic about the new steam rollers on the market. He says they are a wonderful alternative to hot rollers and curling irons because they cause less drying and damage. They do require more time, because each roller is steamed individually. However, the curl they produce is firmer and longer-lasting.
As for women who lack enough hair, time or talent to create a coiffure, hair switches and falls can add drama in a minute. Hairpieces last saw popularity in the late '60s and early '70s, when women kept a wardrobe of ready-to-wear ringlets and cascades lined up on plastic head forms.
"They work especially well with chin-length or short hair because most of your own real hair is showing," Mr. Depew says. "That way you don't get the fakeness of a full wig."