Decades-old mod is modern again

October 12, 1995|By Suzin Boddiford | Suzin Boddiford,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

As the compass of fashion spins, the simplest way to touch on any new trend may be a new beauty routine. Even though designers borrow ideas from the past, nothing ever returns exactly the same way it started out. This time around, as they pull pieces of the Swinging Sixties into the Nineties with the revival of sleeveless shifts, hip huggers and go-go boots, eyeliner, bangs and smooth hair have been brought back around.

The mod look originated in Britain during the early 1960s with a group of effortlessly hip teens. Mod girls wore offbeat clothes, bobbed their dark hair, painted their lips white and rimmed their eyes in black. They rode with nattily dressed boys on Vespa scooters and hung out around London's East End. Eventually, mod took on many incarnations and soon went from defining a lifestyle to being a tag name for all things young and stylish.

Fast forward 30 years and mod shifts into a modern mode. This season, even though designers on both sides of the Atlantic take hair and makeup inspiration from such '60s British icons as actress Julie Christie in "Darling," the Rolling Stones' "It girl" Marianne Faithfull and former supermodel Jean Shrimpton, they still manage to give it a very Nineties twist.

Last year's perfectly coiffed, all-made-up glamour gal is a tad rougher around the edges. Think of up-all-night hair and morning-after makeup. While emphasis has shifted from the red mouth to the sultry kohl-rimmed eye, the wanton bob is back.

"The bob always seems to resurface, however different every time," says international hairstylist Garren, of Garren New York, who blazed a trail this season when he transformed supermodel Linda Evangelista's long blond hair into an asymmetrical bob.

Although the new mod bob is different from the stiff, five-point precision cut popularized by Vidal Sassoon back in 1964, "today's style is much shinier and more touchable with lots of movement and slightly more volume at the crown," says Garren. The back finishes in a very soft geometric line instead of a heavy blunt wedge. It's not surprising that a little bit of smoothing and teasing looks fresh to the wash-and-wear generation.

The bob, however, isn't the only answer to going mod. Hair of any length can be blown out straight, parted and pinned low on the side with some strands brushed across the forehead. Some teasing at the crown adds volume.

Bangs, too, have made a comeback, and they're not just for kids anymore. "It's not about a few wisps but a whole lot of bang," says Garren, which he predicts will be even stronger going forward for Spring '96. Modern bangs are low-maintenance. When they start to grow out, there's no need to rush to trim. They can be allowed to fall seductively over the eye, brow or swoop to the side. Supermodel Kate Moss went from waif to vixen with full, long bangs, and actress Demi Moore shows new bangs on this month's Vogue cover.

Mod is good news for flat hair days. "Big curly hair is definitely out right now," says Garren. "Straight hair just looks more modern with the narrow width of the shoulders in the new moddish clothes."

"Long hair looks best very straight and shagged on the ends so it's not real blunt," says Garren. He created that look, inspired by Catherine Deneuve in "Belle du Jour," for Madonna at the recent MTV music video awards.

Although the bare face, neutral lip and dark eye are the new shift in makeup, modern cosmetics have overcome the original mod chalky-looking skin. "Today's makeup textures allow skin to naturally peek through, thereby making mod more wearable for all skin types," says Nick Gavrelis, national beauty director for Nordstrom.

If eyes are the windows to the soul, expect them to be all smoked up this season. The well-kohled eye begins with a soft eye pencil instead of a heavy liquid liner. "The key is to rim the top and bottom close to the lash line and then blend over that with a shadow to prevent liner from migrating," says Mr. Gavrelis. "The effect is easier to adjust to if you start with a deep brown or gray pencil instead of a harsh black." If the eye is fairly large, he recommends lining the inside membrane, which he claims is safe even with contacts.

Balancing hard-edged eyes are low-key lips. However, the secret to keeping a light mouth from draining the face of color is to choose a paler version of a lip color and adding gloss.

As with any trend, Mr. Gavrelis cautions against going overboard when attempting a mod face.

On the cover

Styling: Suzin Boddiford.

Hair and makeup: Matthew Van Leeuwen for Makeup Forever, Barney's New York.

Model: Amy Neusbaum for Three West Casting. Patent leather jacket, $186, at Octavia.

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