YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Men's Fall Fashion Issue

The cutting edge

Around the hipster hair universe in seven shops (and one living room)

September 12, 2004|Andrew John Ignatius Vontz | Andrew John Ignatius Vontz has short, clean, but slightly messy hair.

Not long ago hipster guys in Los Angeles could either throw down big bucks at a high-end salon for a styling 'do or spend $10 at the local Greatcutz and brave a stylist with the fashion sense of a Flowbee vac-cut technician. Mercifully for the young and trendy, the "street" styles of a multiethnic megalopolis have been mingling with the taste-making influences of the music, film and television industries like nowhere else in the world, and a new generation of salons has emerged.

From Venice to the Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park fertile crescent of cool and beyond, L.A. is buzzing with curve-setting hipster salons and barbershops for guys. Like Target, some bring designer chic to the masses at prices anyone can afford. Just as teenagers use the local Hot Topic as a coolness barometer that keeps them equipped with just the right wristbands and dog collars, hipster guys turn to these salons for the cutting edge.

Somewhat perplexingly, the shaggy '70s man 'do with eyebrow-brushing bangs, a collar-tickling back and lots of razor-cut, bed-head texture that actor Ashton Kutcher sported for years has become a hipster hair touchstone. Although no hipster in his right mind would acknowledge Kutcher--the man who single-handedly destroyed the beloved hipster trucker-cap trend--as the hair icon nonpareil of his age, that is exactly what he has become. It's a phenomenon that has nothing to do with hipsters loving Kutcher and everything to do with loving the '70s. This summer Kutcher chopped his magical locks in favor of a tight, clean, short look, but his old cut still looms large in hipster land, and the phrase "Kutcher cut" serves as shorthand for his former 'do.

But just how is a hipster hairstyle born?

Do-It-Yourself and Dye

When Derek Martin walks into an Echo Park party shaking his mulloch, there's no mistaking him for the mop heads partying like it's 1983. Martin might be wearing a tie-dyed, acid-washed shirt, but it's his one-of-a-kind hair that turns heads. Scissor-cut short on the top and sides, it gets longer toward the back and extends down his neck. "I call it the mulloch, because it's part mullet and part mohawk," says the handsome crafter of leather bags and cuffs for his Legend label. Martin's 'do is accentuated by blond stripes that run down the middle and sides of his brown hair. For the last 10 years he has cut his own hair or had friends, such as roommate Geneva Jacuzzi, the lead singer-songwriter for the Bubonic Plague, give him a hand.

"I never considered myself a hipster," he says. He conceived the mulloch as a tribute to Native American culture, black magic and Sta-Hi, his favorite character in the sci-fi book "Software." And although Martin may be representative of a whole posse of men who realize their visions in the creative control of their living rooms, there are many more who let their salons and barbershops lead them in bold new directions.

Hot Hair on a Budget

Located inside a converted auto garage on West Sunset Boulevard, Rudy's Barbershop is a temple of hipness replete with a foosball table and a wall covered in pics of hot people torn from trendy magazines. The stylists are attractive young men and women who embody the coolness in L.A.'s music and fashion scenes. Since the Seattle-based chain opened its Silver Lake store four years ago, its nine chairs have banged out about 1,000 cuts a week at about $19 a pop, bringing cheap, cool haircuts to the masses.

At Rudy's, the shaggy Kutcher 'do is a hipster staple. "That was our bread and butter for two or three years. And it still is," says David Petersen, the chain's co-owner and founder. The mohawk is hot too, the cut of choice for client Carlos Plazola, a graphic designer. Rudy's stylists say many of their Latino customers ask for the Kutcher cuts, fauxhawks--a short cut with a pronounced but graduated mohawk-like ridge down the center--and other so-called hipster styles, all part of the giant melting pot of pop culture. As for what's next in hair, Rudy's stylist Michelle Mann, 20, suggests men look farther afield than Silver Lake: "Something to follow with hair trends is definitely Japanese street fashion magazines."

Choki Choki

A bookcase at Taka Hair Salon on Sawtelle Boulevard is crammed with Japanese street fashion magazines such as Choki Choki, a publication that borrows its onomatopoetic name from the sound a pair of scissors makes as it cuts hair. A display case in front is filled with Knotty Boy Dread Wax with hempseed oil for the many Asian men who do dreadlocks and Afros, says Naoko Tamada, Taka's owner and a stylist whose short hair boasts a single braided extension. On a bulletin board next to a row of Day-Glo braid extensions, Polaroids of white guys with multicolored mohawks are interspersed with pictures of Japanese guys in dreads.

Los Angeles Times Articles