If A-line dresses, daisy prints and bell-bottoms weren't enough for you, here's another sign of 1960s staying power: hairdos such as the smooth French twist, the piled-up pouf and the high crown flip are back.
Thankfully, the secret to these massive hairdos no longer involves the tortuous technology of the '60s--back combing, hair spraying and rolling hair on orange juice cans. This time around, wigs and hairpieces are enough.
One of the obvious inspirations for the trend has been Madonna's long ponytail that sprouted from a braided bun atop her head, a hairdo she adopted for her "Blond Ambition" tour last summer.
Long falls anchored with wide headbands were the hairstyle of choice at the Paris ready-to-wear shows in March. Karl Lagerfeld made liberal use of the look at Chanel, and Thierry Mugler opted for tutti-frutti bubble wigs on his runway models.
And then there is the Ivana look, launched last May when Mrs. Trump made the cover of Vogue magazine, modeling her makeover that included the little blond bun atop her head with enough stray tendrils to create a sensual disheveled effect. It's been a popular style among sex kittens for the past three decades. Teen-age model Claudia Schiffer, the blond bombshell who poses for the Guess? jeans ads, wears it. And, of course, Brigitte Bardot was the first to make the look famous, at the turn of the '60s. A chignon is the hairpiece needed to re-create that do.
Even Sinead O'Connor, the bald chanteuse, has been seduced by the allure of fabulous fake hair and covered her trademark pate with a wavy platinum blond wig in "Red Hot and Blue," the ABC Television special that aired Saturday night.
But it's not only celebrities who like the '60s look. All sorts of women are trying it out, and the fake hair business is growing. Edward Oberhaus, senior vice president of Kaneka America, the company that supplies Kanekalon--the synthetic fiber used in 80% of the world's wig and hairpieces--estimates the hair goods business will increase 12 to 15% this year.
Ron Zagon, owner of Cal East Imports in Beverly Hills, sells wigs wholesale and retail. He estimates that 98% of all the wigs sold are made of synthetic fibers, although several of the wig companies that furnish his business combine human hair with synthetics for more durability. According to Zagon, the hottest hairpieces are the long straight falls anchored with headbands and "anything else that looks like it came from the 1960s." The Madonna ponytails didn't translate well as a fashion item, he says, but they did do well at Halloween. Dottie Balser, a sales representative for Rene of Paris, a Van Nuys-based wig manufacturer, says her business has increased 25% in the past year, thanks to the young women who are now buying hairpieces. Falls, hair extensions and hairpieces attached to six-inch long banana clips are the most requested items in her inventory. "It used to be just matrons and movie stars who bought wigs," she says. "But now a lot of young women have recognized the practical economics. . . . They can postpone having their hair colored or permed by wearing hairpieces or wigs for a while."
Mitchell Field, who owns Antenna, a hair salon in Burbank, has felt the effects of the fall revival. His clients (most of them under 40) have been bringing their hairpieces into his salon and asking for assistance in styling shoulder-length flips. "It's a generation that doesn't know much about false hair and they need some help at first," Field explains. He has had so many people dropping off their hairpieces for attention that "just this week we got the wig block out of mothballs."
"I'm ready to buy another one," says jewelry designer Deanna Hamro, whose line is called Prego. Last August she bought a three-quarters wig (the new hairpiece that has a larger base than a fall but does not cover the entire head like a conventional wig) to wear to a costume ball. Since the party she has worn her long synthetic hair out on the town. "It's a goof to show up with it on," Hamro says. "It takes some nerve but it is a lot of fun." She plans to return to Theresa Wigs in New York next week and purchase another '60s-style wig. This time she wants to buy the Sassoon-type cut that is short in the back with long chin-length sides.
Synthetic fibers have come a long way since Dynel falls made headlines in the '60s. Kanekalon and Elura (a fiber produced by Monsanto) are lighter weight and they can withstand the abuses that real hair suffers--hot rollers, gels, mousses and hair spray. On the down side, synthetics have a tendency to frizz when exposed to extreme heat, curling irons and perspiration. Human hairpieces will loose their curl in a few days, but will last longer than synthetics.