Hair today is gone tomorrow as Hillary switches' dos

April 23, 1994|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Sun Staff Correspondent

Washington -- A week in the life of Hillary's hair:

On Monday, it was sleek and straight, a no-nonsense style for a busy day in Baltimore. By Wednesday, she sported a nest of matronly curls that one tabloid dubbed a "Southern Belle bob." To meet the press yesterday, she was schoolgirl-sweet, with simple bangs.

Tracking the hairstyles of the first lady has become as complicated as following her commodities maneuvers.

It's long. It's short. It's curled. It's straight. She's a Diane Sawyer look-alike. Now, she's Betty Crocker. No, says one catty newspaper, she's "Oldie-locks."

Wednesday's coif -- the softly waved $17 creation of Washington stylist Sylvain Melloul -- has made Hillary Rodham Clinton's hair a hot topic again and left an image-conscious nation to wonder: What is it with Hillary and her hair?

"It wasn't cut," explained Neel Lattimore, deputy press secretary for the first lady. "It was just styled differently. Mrs. Clinton, like a lot of American women, changes her hair based on the day."

Beauty pros beg to differ.

"She's a full-fledged member of Hairanoia Anonymous," says Linda Wells, editor-in-chief of Allure magazine. "She has a

near-neurotic obsession with her hair.

"She's had 13 or 14 different styles. That's more than Ivana Trump. More than Dolly Parton. More than Cher. You can overstate these things, but there is a certain psychological message in appearance. To me, it's a sign of her difficulty in identifying herself in her role."

Yet others applaud Mrs. Clinton's chameleon-like ability to suit her looks to the occasion.

"She's no slave to fashion," says Bayley Ledes, beauty and fitness director for Elle magazine. "I admire her gusto for trying anything. If it doesn't work, she changes it. It's a sign of strength, not weakness."

Mr. Melloul, the first lady's stylist for the past year and the owner of several Washington salons, declined to comment on his client's hair. But his handiwork can be seen in May's Elle magazine, where Mrs. Clinton wears a close-cropped hairdo that looks decidedly Audrey Hepburnesque.

Other stylists believe they know the source of Mrs. Clinton's coif confusion.

"I don't think she can handle her own hair," says Lola Jones, an owner of Lola Inc. hair salon in Mount Washington. "She doesn't have the flair to style it."

She's clearly not alone. Many American women have a love-hate relationship with their curling wands.

Nine out of 10 women say they occasionally have "bad-hair days," according to a recent nationwide survey of more than 500 women. Blonds like Mrs. Clinton have more bad-hair days than brunettes, says Hal Quinley, a partner at Yankelovich Partners, a public opinion research firm, which did the study with Neutrogena products.

In addition to confessing their own hair problems, respondents were asked to select from a list of celebrities who they thought had bad hair. Madonna and Daryl Hannah were rated as having the most unmanageable locks. Mrs. Clinton's name did not appear on the list.

"Everybody was picking on her," Mr. Quinley says. "We decided that we ought to leave her alone."

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