Men's hair gets to the point

Style: A new haircut pushes hair toward the center in a modified Mohawk that some say will be the next salon fad.

March 19, 2000|By Susan Carpenter | Susan Carpenter,LOS ANGELES TIMES

It's a look worn by trendy teens, late boomers and shoe salesmen at Barneys -- a hairstyle that originated in England but is now making waves stateside. It's called the fin, and it may be coming to a salon near you, if it hasn't already washed up.

What's the fin?

"It's hair that's cut real short, and up on top it all gets pushed toward the center so it looks almost like a Mohawk," says David Petersen, co-owner of Rudy's Barbershop, a trend-setting salon in Los Angeles that does the cut.

Gabrielle Hart, artistic director of Studio 1612 in Mount Washington, says the look has been steadily gaining popularity in the area for the past two months, although not everyone calls it "the fin." "Some people call it a modified Mohawk," she says. "It's very street-wearable."

Hart says a "massive amount of texture, pieciness and width and height in the center" make it interesting.

Marcus Nivens, 29, has had some variation of the fin for the past year. A hairstylist at Studio 1612, he says the fin looks good both flat and funky. "Most guys' hair just looks like a helmet on their head," says Nivens, who lives in Baltimore.

The look doesn't have to be extreme, especially since it comes in a variety of lengths.

Petersen estimates that 30 to 40 percent of Rudy's male clients, who include many from the music and entertainment industries, get the fin in some form or other.

"It's sort of the subtlety that works," says Pete D., co-owner of Cuts Soho, in a telephone interview from the London salon credited with pioneering the look. "If you don't push [the hair] up, you can lay it flat. If you work at a bank, you can get by on a daily basis and then do something for the evening."

Two years ago, a group of stylists at Cuts Soho developed the look and put the fin on Fran Healy, lead singer for the British pop group Travis. In 1999, Healy won the haircut of the year award from the music magazine Melody Maker, and the fin took off in Britain.

"It just takes a pop star to have it, and suddenly everyone's talking about it," says Pete D., whose current clients include electronic music producer William Orbit and the drum and bass artist Goldie. He said the fin is popular because "it was the first different haircut that was in the realm of good taste and sort of suited a lot of people."

It takes about a year from the time a hairstyle is created before it is picked up by the mainstream, according to Christa Sears, director of Menswork, a men's haircutting academy in Boulder, Colo., that began teaching how to cut the style a year ago.

"Now [the fin] is a lot more acceptable and much more common," she says.

Petersen says he first learned how to do the fin last year at Menswork.

"I thought it was great," he says. "I came home with the fin." And he's still wearing it, although he doesn't always style it up.

Unlike women's 'dos, men's hairstyles do not ordinarily have names. When they do, the styles are somewhat dubious in their fashion worthiness, like the much-maligned mullet (as worn by Adam Sandler in "The Wedding Singer") and the Caesar (a style George Clooney made popular and a precursor to the fin in the United States).

What is now called the fin was originally known as the Buddha hawk, a combination of two earlier hairstyles Cuts Soho helped popularize -- the Buddha (which has "the same sort of shape, with a little more hair centered around the crown") and the Mohawk.

The term "fin" came from the street, according to Sears.

So, what is the next wave, after the fin?

According to Sears, it is the Desic 2000, a derivative of the fin she recently unveiled at the International Cosmetology Expo in Los Angeles.

"It's like the old Steve McQueen look, where hair was cropped really, really short in the front, with a little height and texture on the crown, so from the profile it looked almost pointed or sppheric."

Sun staff writer Tamara Ikenberg contributed to this story.

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