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The feathered look in hair

Celebrities and style mavens are weaving wispy extensions into their hair and going for plumage-adorned head gear.

May 08, 2011|By Kavita Daswani | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Feather extensions can be simple or a mix of hues, like this Fred Segal Salon style.
Feather extensions can be simple or a mix of hues, like this Fred Segal Salon… (Fred Segal Salon )

Fly fishermen grappling with bumped-up prices for the feathers they need for the sport can blame Los Angeles hipsters: The recent craze in feather hair extensions has led to diminished supplies and more than doubled the cost of the plumes.

"I did 10 sets of extensions yesterday," said Krystal Riddle, a stylist at Fred Segal Salon in Santa Monica. "It's a crazy trend right now."

The feathers are usually applied using small metal clasps and can be washed and styled like regular hair. They last four to 12 weeks, after which they break or fall off.

Spurred on by celebrities such as Steven Tyler, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Hilary Duff, the feathers-in-the-hair trend has also gained traction recently because of the unusual approaches being taken by stylists.

Riddle is incorporating more exotica: a yellow and black polka-dotted guinea feather, a long peacock plume in hot pink. She is also offering a process called feather tipping, in which the ends of tiny braids are decorated with a quill or two.

Still, it's not just feathered extensions that are showing up at trendy hot spots these days. Accessories, headbands, cocktail hats and fascinators — especially on the back of a recent royal wedding — are also popular when decorated with plumage.

"All of a sudden people are aware of feathered hair pieces," said Andie Cohen-Healy, founder of website, which sells feathered hair accessories exclusively. She founded the site a couple of years ago after designing head gear for her own wedding using feathers from her pet hens. "We have eclectic, vintage pieces and new ones, but [feathered accessories] are more lasting, more flexible [than extensions], and you can have a lot of fun with them."

Tapping into the trend can be as inexpensive — or as pricey — as you want. Sean Jahanbigloo, a.k.a. Sean J., the owner of Juan Juan salons in Beverly Hills and Brentwood, recently adorned a client's hair with a tiny clutch of plumes from the South American cotinga and the zebra goose — for $400. But mostly, he said, prices range from $30 to $50.

"The look is versatile," he said. "You can go for glamorous or rock star or chic."

Nelson Chan, owner of the Nelson J salon in Beverly Hills, says that no more than three or four feathers is ideal. His signature is using bright colors — neon greens, pinks and blues.

"I tell clients to be as free and as wild as they want, and not to worry about the placement or the wrong color," he said. "They can come off if it doesn't work."

Not that the trend is going to last that long anyway.

"I think we'll be seeing it a lot through the summer," said Fred Segal's Riddle. "But after that, it'll be over."

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