Fashion: dress sense

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The Independent Culture
I'M SITTING in the comfy, padded barber's chair in front of one of those mirrors that tells it like it is. Some mirrors play games with you, making you look thinner around the chops, plumper around the hips or taller altogether. But this mirror has no games to play. It simply reflects what it sees: a round face with a mop of dark hair perched on top of a shiny grey hairdresser's cape. I take my glasses off. It's always easier with the edges blurred.

Hugh is doing the things hairdressers do when presented with an unruly mop. He pulls a strand out here, pushes a clump over there and stands back a bit to have a look. I know the words that should be coming out of my mouth: "Can I have a Joan of Arc please?" The miniscule fringe - more of a fringelet really - is, I am told, the height of fashion. You see, Alexander McQueen did it on his catwalk in London last February. Actually, some of the models looked more like Max Wall than Jean Seberg in her finest hour, with heads shaved and a tuft of miniscule fringe protruding over the forehead. But the Joan spirit - medieval and romantic - was there. As is his wont, McQueen made an extreme look even more extreme by adding deathly pale complexions, pink contact lenses and red eyelashes. Nevertheless, Saint Joan is fashion's new heroine; and I of all people should be paying homage.

Hugh is tucking my overgrown fringe behind my ears. Something has to be done about it. I can't just leave it hanging there like that. And the hairclip I have been using to keep it out of my eyes is more than a touch Nora Batty. "Have you had many requests for the Joan-of-Arc look?" I venture. "The what? No ... no," he says, shaking his head and wondering what I'm blathering about. Still, he says, he likes the short Black Adder fringe. "It's the look," I tell him. Quite what I mean by that statement, I am not sure. Whose look, exactly? I squint at my blurry face in the mirror that doesn't lie.

According to Elle magazine, the Joan look has been updated and nicknamed the "Kathy cut", not after a martyr but the magazine's sprightly fashion assistant, Kathy Chan. Kathy-of-Elle was sporting the hair-do all of six months ago, hot off the catwalk. I'm tempted, but things move fast in the fashion world. Perhaps it was all over for Joan - and Kathy too - before it even started. After all, we're already approaching the shows for spring/summer '99. What if the catwalks decree long, floppy fringes that tuck nicely behind your ears? My dilemma passes. Hugh looks enquiringly into the mirror. "What d'you want doing to it today?" Without a moment's hesitation I mumble, "Oh, you know, just a trim ... the usual."