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The Mane Event: Keep It Sleek, Not Spiky

April 23, 1999|BARBARA THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Big hair is out, sleek hair is in, especially for formal occasions.

"At the moment, what's going on in fashion is a return to clean, simple, beautiful hair," said Richard Marin, a Hollywood stylist for Cloutier, L.A.'s leading styling agency. "We're going away from messy hair or greasy 'dos, which will be seen as the epitome of the '90s."

When "Friends" star and movie actress Lisa Kudrow prepared for the Oscars, she collaborated with Marin, the TV show's hairdresser.

"Lisa and I talked about it, and she wanted to have a beautiful, classical Hollywood look," he said. They decided to go with a French twist, "a beautiful simple Grace Kelly look."

Gwyneth Paltrow wore the same sleek, pulled back hairstyle, only flatter on top.

Both women are likely to be carefully studied as prom and formal season arrives, but Marin advises to keep an open mind because not every woman has the features and face shape to wear the hairdo. It can appear severe and unflattering on some.

"If you want this kind of Lisa Kudrow look, it's very formal and it's very stylized. You have to take a look at your personal image. Lisa's personal image away from 'Friends' is conservative and classic."

Kudrow, unlike her long-maned character on "Friends," has shoulder-length hair that has a natural curl. (On filming day, "We put extensions in her hair every Friday and we take them out that night.")

To achieve the Oscar night French twist, Marin first applied KMS Molding Paste to her wet hair--to make it easier to style-- and then blew it dry. Leaving hair on the crown loose, Marin swept up the sides and back of the hair into a traditional French twist, holding it in place with bobby pins. Then he parted the loose front locks and incorporated them into the twist, carefully combing every unruly lock into the twist.

"Then I just go to town with a really good hair spray." He used a finishing spray: Sam Brocato Blonde Spray (available at some beauty supply stores).

If you try this at home, Marin suggests experimenting with the height and the part of the crown. If your hair is longer or kinkier than Paltrow's or Kudrow's, there are ways to achieve this look.

James O'Regan, stylist at Linear Westside Pavilion, said there is an entire industry of products now that help flatten hair temporarily, "particularly Asian or Latin hair that tends to be very full."

The first step to getting this hairstyle at home, O'Regan said, is to find an appropriate product that will relax your curl temporarily. Next, blow dry the hair. "If the hair is very curly, use a round brush with a natural boar bristle." Then, take a flattening iron to the hair, section by section. Follow with a curling iron to enhance the smoothness. A very large curling iron will do this without putting the curl back in.

African American hair, O'Regan said, generally needs to be pressed and curled if it is to be worn flat and straight.

O'Regan cautioned that the pulled-back hair draws attention to the face. "If you have a naturally very pretty face, you're going to wear it really well." If your face is round, frame it with wispy tendrils "to narrow the face" and soften the look.

O'Regan said this sleek look, done well, tends to be flattering. "I actually saw a picture when Monica Lewinsky was over [in England]. It slenderized her face."

Cloutier's Marin suggested a few other hairstyles are very current alternatives.

"There's a big return to the bob, shorter hair one length,' he said. "You just have to be careful on the length.

"What's also good for younger girls is casual 'up' hair. Hair that's easily put up and looks very casual and very good."

Barbara Thomas can be reached by e-mail at barbara.thomas@latimes.com.

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