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STYLE: LOOKS : Much Ado About a 'Do

June 27, 1993|SHARI ROMAN

Madonna flaunted them buck naked in her "Sex" book. Demi Moore did hers demurely on MTV's Movie Awards nomination special. Julia Roberts sports them at her Westside exercise class. Conveying a playful, got-nothing-to-prove sexiness, this summer's coif of choice has got to be pigtails.

Swinging away from dressy, upswept 'dos, the latest pigtails weave love-child chic, prairie-woman practicality and schoolgirl charm into the wayward winsomeness of a Heidi-gone-wrong. Usually worn loosely to frame the face, the way Marilyn Monroe did in her Norma Jean days, or pulled back higher and tighter, a la Pippi Longstocking, pigtails are not only seductively sweet, revealing the nape of the neck, but they're also the perfect way to keep cool during a heat wave.

Actress-singer Tia Carrere, who hard-rocked hers in the movie "Wayne's World" and currently bares them at the new West Hollywood restaurant, Babylon, which she co-owns, says she's been pigtailing it for the past 3 1/2 years. "Lots of people have made fun of me, but I love them; they make me feel like a little girl. I've worn them to premieres, I wear them with my baseball cap when I go dancing. . . . They're fun."

The classic hairstyle, popularized in the '30s by Judy Garland in "The Wizard of Oz" and in the '40s by Loretta Young in "The Farmer's Daughter," is shoulder-length or longer hair parted in the middle, from front to back, with two pigtails pulled over or behind the ears and worn loose or braided. Styling options include slicking the hair with gel for a smoother look, threading the braids or tying the ends with ribbons and bows or adding barrettes.

The side benefits of braiding pigtails are great, too, says Sharon Gault, the hairstylist who coiffed Madonna on her "Blonde Ambition" concert tour and appeared in the singer's movie "Truth or Dare." "It's better for straight hair, but it controls frizziness in curly hair. Plus, if you wet the hair and braid it at night, when you wake up, you have crimped hair for an evening look."

Babette Beja, general manager of the Umberto salons in Beverly Hills, points out that pigtails have roots in cornrows and dreadlocks, which have influenced the current-day hip-hop hair. "Everything is cyclical. All designers look over history, bring it forward and change it to work with today's styles and personalities."

Cemal, a free-lance hairstylist who does Demi Moore and Whitney Houston, says given its many variations (the hillbilly puff of Ellie Mae Clampett, the spooky tresses of Wednesday Addams or the teased-up, sex-kitten kitsch of a Russ Meyer super-vixen) pigtail fever seems here to stay. "Everyone wants more personality and less 'hairdo,' " he says. "This is a hairstyle that's cute, young, fun and fast. You can wear it with jeans and T-shirts, cute little floaty dresses. Everything is easy and simple."

And, he adds: "I'd love to see Hillary Clinton wearing pigtails. I think she'd look great."

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