The look this season is, in a word, relaxed. Clothing shapes are casual and unconstructed. Makeup is more subtle. And hair is easy, natural and not overly styled.
For Californians, this will be a cinch. Here, the look comes, well, naturally. The only trick may be getting used to less hair. Current styles require chopping some of the height off the top of those teased-to-the-hilt styles that practically became the state hairdo over the past few years.
"It may be hard for people around here to get used to the flatter cuts," says Karen Michnick of the Hair Studio in Huntington Beach. After polling all the stylists in the shop, she added, "The styles are straighter, flatter and fuller on top, and for California, that will be a bigger change than anything."
Other stylists queried this week agreed. The hottest looks will come from styles that have less height, more fullness and fewer layers. The shapes--bobbed or tapered rather than curled--are moving away from the tightly permed shoulder-length looks of the past.
"It appears things will smooth out quite a bit," says Mitch Mitchell, owner of Mitch & Co. Haircutters of Irvine. "There will be a little more bob and not as many layers. People are getting away from all the curling of the last few years."
Another adjustment, after years of the tousled lion-mane look, is length. The new looks are short, either ear- or chin-length, with long layers on top. While Orange County stylists say chin-length bobs are big, the September Vogue and Mirabella fashion magazines show a slew of ear-length, shaggy cuts reminiscent of Twiggy's short topper of the 1960s.
"The look is definitely going short," says Susan Kenison of Heidi's Hair Design in Newport Beach. "The emphasis is on a really good short cut, above the ears and full in the crown."
Those considering a new cut or style might want to check out celebrity stylist Jose Eber's soon-to-open Jose Eber Salon in South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.
Eber, author of the 1982 book "Shake Your Head, Darling" and a stylist who made his name by creating hairdos for such celebrities as Victoria Principal, Elizabeth Taylor, Cher and Linda Gray, says clients from Orange County who drive to his Beverly Hills salon have been requesting a southern location for years. And he fell in love with South Coast Plaza on a recent visit.
"I saw that everybody was there, from Tiffany to Cartier, and thought, 'I want to be there too,' " he says. "I mean, we are catering to the same clientele."
The stylist agrees that short is new again.
"The short cuts are so flattering and fresh-looking after all these years of long hair," he says. "I think it's going to stay, because women are not willing to spend all that time on their hair, and the short cuts are amazingly carefree."
He adds, however, that he will not give just anyone a short cut.
"I'm not going to buzz off everybody, absolutely not. It all depends on the woman's face and what's right for her."
Even though the current look for hair is more natural and less kinky, stylists say customers will still request permanents, but the emphasis will be on body, rather than curls or waves. Some people need a perm to achieve the bob, but large perm rollers will be used to give body rather than little rollers to add curl, Kenison says.
Kenison adds that color will replace curls in importance for the next few seasons.
"Hair color is a real strong trend, with people going closer to their natural colors," she says. "The look is real shiny; they're adding color to enhance their own color."
Reflecting this fall's fashion emphasis on rusts, auburns and golds is the renewed interest in warmer, redder hair coloring, according to several stylists.
"We're going back to more natural tones, with a lot of beautiful hazel, camel and honey highlights," Eber says.
To determine ideal colors and cuts, Mitchell has developed his own computer system that adds styles and shades to the customer's picture on a video screen. The person's hair is pulled back and the computer provides a number of different styles and colors to help the customer visualize his or her best look. The salon charges $30 for the service.
So this season's look is short, bobbed, warm and shiny. But why? Where do the styles come from?
Some might say New York. Neat little haircuts were all over the fall and winter shows in New York, especially in the Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein collections. Some say Europe. And some say Hollywood.
"It's just new again," Eber says. "The models and the actresses started to cut their hair, and then, sure enough, the rest of the women followed."