Hairdressers show true colors Fashion: It's no longer a secret as women today think of hair-color changes as just another accessory.

February 01, 1996|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,SUN STAFF

Once, only your hairdresser knew for sure and that was good. Now, if only your hairdresser knows for sure, what's the point?

True, hair is optional these days, but if you choose to have it, be apprised that natural color is not. It doesn't matter what shade you were born with: Go blond, go auburn, go blue black, go frosted, or paint those roots dark and obvious -- just as long as you fake it and let the world know you are.

"Now people don't care. If they get their hair colored, they want people to know it," says Karen Wilson, owner of Bang Bang salon in Fells Point.

Skeptics need only refer to ubermodel Linda Evangelista, the queen of brazen transformation, who boldly changes identities from shoot to shoot, runway to runway, continent to continent. One day, she's framed in frosted chunks, the next she's sporting a sultry, streaked chestnut bob.

Other mannequins are following her lead, cropping and coloring at a pretty pace.

That pace picked up Monday at a high-powered show, staged by Goldwell Cosmetics at its annual sales meeting, in Baltimore. The show also relaunched Colorance, the company's semi-permanent hair color line that allows the freedom to experiment, a la Linda, without commitment to a specific hair shade.

Goldwell, an international cosmetics company that recently opened its $24 million North American headquarters and plant in Linthicum Heights, went all out, treating its sales force to the Olympian skills of Team Modelli, a trio of award-winning Canadian hairdressers.

In a madcap work of performance art that captured backstage salon culture at its most outrageous, the stylists took combs, picks, spray and falls to the manes of eight models, altering them continuously in a deafening hair and fashion display.

Starting with the pop excesses of the 1960s and escalating to Edwardian overkill, the team made it clear that hair is there not just to keep us warm, but to be manipulated, extended, colored and coifed beyond recognition. Options, the show screamed, are limitless.

The first hairdos out of the gate were stylized "mod" creations invoking the Beatles and go-go girls in op-art shifts with hair teased into towering monuments of rock 'n' roll devotion. Remember Petula Clark, Cilla Black, Lulu? They're back in spirit, albeit reconfigured by sophisticated hindsight.

While exaggerated, these first dos reflected the current trend toward sensible flexibility: ear-length cuts that can be worn smooth by day, radically fluffed by night.

The models, six women and two men, shimmied their way through a disco inferno with hair tempest tossed and teased to distraction. Some hair fantasies recalled Jean Shrimpton, an early supermodel, whose laissez faire hair was often worn piled and pinned with calculated insouciance. Others, built on spongy domes with faux falls aplenty, turned the models into the Ronettes redux.

Jennifer Aniston-esque shags, layers softened as if they were growing out, also tripped down the runway.

Color, of course, was the driving force of this show. Not so long ago, the obvious application of color was the province of fickle girls who just couldn't make up their minds -- about hair or men.

Today, changing locks are the signature of strong, independent women unafraid to change their minds, while broadcasting retooled personalities, sex appeal, ambition.

The new colors are monochromatic, all blond or all brunet, glossy and vibrant. The models tripped cheekily down the runway gilded in Goldwell tones like copper gold, Sahara beige blond, red violet and red beech.

Red has not reached its peak, says Wanda Ellingson, a stylist who works for Goldwell as an educator. "We are teaching a lot about 'believable reds,' not fake or phony ones. A lot of the reds we're gearing up for are for the business woman who still wants to be red, but have it look professional."

"Baby boomers have brought hair color to a forefront," says stylist Madeline Morley Bayard, of the Clark-Morely Salon in Baltimore. "The majority of baby boomers are in the workplace. They have to keep a consistent style, something that's fairly low maintenance, something that is flattering and natural looking."

While Ms. Bayard doesn't see drastic hair color changes, her clients are willing to alter their hair color seasonally with chunks, highlights and gray coverage. "Clients are opening up their own creativity level," she says. Occasional and obvious hair color alteration is no longer taboo, she says.

"Color is the big thing," says Ms. Wilson of Bang Bang. "A lot of highlighting, lots of chunky gold pieces. The shag cut is a really nice cut to complement some highlights, it makes those layers stand out."

Lola Jones, of Lola Jones Inc. in Mount Washington, concurs: "We find we are focusing on more color than anything. Our clients are looking at it more as an accessory. They're showing it off "

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