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Hair It Comes: The 'Stash' Makes a Statement

February 11, 2000|From Hartford Courant

Just when you thought designer stubble was passe, along come style arbiters to tell you otherwise. In fact, the newest trend in male facial hair sounds shockingly retro--silly, even.

We're talking about the mustache. Yep, that bushy lip worm that makes us think of the Village People, Tom Selleck, Burt Reynolds and Snidely Whiplash might be the next wake-up call in the traditionally sleepy arena of men's style.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the inevitable men's accessory for 2000 might very well be the mustache. The newspaper made a case for the "stash" by citing the stir caused in fashion circles by mustachioed Ukrainian model Eugene Hutz, last month's cover boy of L'Uomo Vogue. Months before that, Interview magazine declared that "mustaches are making as big a follicle frisson today as designer stubble did back in the '80s." And in Hartford, Conn., the opening of "Salvador Dali's Optical Illusions," a show at the Wadsworth Atheneum featuring the work of the great surrealist painter, has revived interest in the florid mustache. In fact, a favorite prop at a party at the museum was a fake mustache.

"Dali's mustache changed throughout his lifetime but was one of his signatures. His mustache eventually became as well known as his paintings," said Susan Hood, spokeswoman for the Atheneum. "It took on a life of its own, becoming ridiculously waxed, upturned and wild."

Though not as grandiose as Dali's upper-lip tendrils, mustaches have been signatures for many men of distinction: Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin, Ernest Hemingway, Teddy Roosevelt, Einstein, Gandhi, Groucho Marx, Clark Gable, Walter Cronkite, Mark Spitz, John Waters and New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza. Fu Manchu-sporting David Crosby recently made headlines when it was divulged that he is the biological father of the children shared by rocker Melissa Etheridge and her partner, Julie Cypher. Denzel Washington just won a Golden Globe (and has hot Oscar buzz) for playing mustachioed Rubin "Hurricane" Carter in "The Hurricane." And stashman Carlos Santana made the musical comeback of the year by scoring 10 Grammy nominations for his super "Supernatural" album.

Mustaches and designer stubble have never been passe when it comes to black men, who have long sported them for style--and sometimes necessity because shaving results in ingrown facial hairs for some of them.

But not everyone is solidly on the bushy bandwagon.

"Actually, I'm seeing more goatees, Elvis sideburns and the very close beard outlining the jawline. But mustaches? No, not too in," said Richard Peterson, co-owner of R Peterson Salon Spa in Avon, Conn. David Waters, author of "Grooming Essentials for Men," agrees.

"I think the mustache became associated with a certain kind of look . . . It's tied up with a '70s, playboy type of image," said Waters, style and grooming editor for Men's Health magazine.

Waters said that since the '70s there has been a gradual decline in the "Magnum P.I."-type of mustache. The facial-hair trend was resurrected in the '90s with the goatee, a mustache combined with a small, narrow beard around the chin area. "It's a more acceptable look," Waters said of the goatee. "It's certainly on the young side."

If you insist on following trends, Waters says go easy on the stash. "Keep it quite short. A very thick, bushy mustache wouldn't go down very well," he said.

So much for the Geraldo Rivera.

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