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Crowning Touches : Elegant New Accessories for the Hair Let Romance Go to One's Head for Holiday Parties

December 27, 1987

AFTER YEARS OF severe lines, fashion is finally fanciful again. Party dresses for New Year's Eve are feminine, flouncy and romantic. Likewise, this season's hairdos--soft curls, nostalgic upsweeps and sleek bobs--are tousled and touchable. And for the first time in many seasons, fancy adornments for the hair are an important accessory.

The surge of interest in hair ornamentation began last year when elegant, simple, Chanel-style bows became popular finishing touches for party dressing. This year's hair accessories, however, are much more ornate--and more fun. Doughnut-shaped taffeta poufs, metallic snoods, jewel-studded feathers, movie-star drapes of rhinestones and glitter-dusted faux flowers are among the most elegant adornments on headdresses. Some decorated headbands are so complex that they resemble hats.

B. J. Shaw, style director of the Beauty Terrace at Neiman-Marcus in Beverly Hills, says clients want stylists to work with the new accessories the way brides arrange their hair to suit their headpieces. "They bring in the accessory and have their hair styled around it," she says. Clients describe the neckline and style of the dress so Shaw can style the hair appropriately. "Too much hair with a high neckline can kill it," she says. "With a dress that bares the shoulders, the hair can be worn down and look very romantic."

In keeping with glamorous off-the-shoulder and strapless gowns, Rita Hayworth curls are anchored with jewel-studded headbands that hold back the bangs. Extra-long hair is caught in updated snoods, topped with 18-inch bows or dramatic rhinestone clips. With higher necklines, ponytails and slicked-back chignons are decorated with one or more crisp taffeta poufs (as shown above). Worn in multiples of various diameters, the fabric doughnuts begin to look like whimsical bouquets surrounding the hair.

For special occasions, dramatic headbands dripping with feathers, tulle bows, paste jewels or sundry forms of glitter add festive touches to short hair. Decorated barrettes and combs provide enough control to allow a change of hair style for an evening on the town. Short-haired women love the versatility that these accessories provide, says Marianna Lucido of Lucido's Hair & Image Design in West Los Angeles. Lucido also attaches long tendrils to short styles in shades that match or contrast with the client's hair color. "It lets a woman have long hair for one night," she says. "It's glamorous."

Blase, a stylist at the Robert Edele salon in Los Angeles, shapes bows and weaves skullcaps out of hairpieces and feathers, then attaches these to his clients' otherwise simple hairdos. Blase says his decorations can take up to six weeks to make and range in cost from $350 to $500. "You don't see this in the United States yet," he says, "but it's very popular in Milan and Paris."

Many international fashion designers are featuring hair accessories not only with fancy evening clothes but with daytime wear too. New York-based fashion designer Donna Karan shows and sells ponytail ornaments that retail for about $180 each. Paris designer Sonia Rykiel showed snoods with her styles for spring '88. And Christian Lacroix, whose 20-inch-diameter hats dramatized his recent collections, caps chignons in tiny woven straw baskets with obviously fake flowers perched on top.

Perhaps Finnish couturier Ulla-Maija Maki , who recently licensed her upscale hair-accessory designs to Riviera Trading Co., has the strongest view on the power of adornments: "Without items such as hats, belts and--most important--hair accessories," she says, "a woman can only be considered half-dressed."

Hair and makeup by Wendy Osmundson/Cloutier; hair accessories from Neiman-Marcus.

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