Style: Use your head to stand out from the crowd: Bizarre hairstyles have never been more popular - and not just with the young. Tamsin Blanchard reports

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Indy Lifestyle Online
EVE SALVAIL, a French-Canadian model, made front-page news last March by appearing on the catwalks of Paris and Milan with her head shaved to reveal a milky-white scalp and a dragon tattoo. When Prada, a leading Milan fashion house, wanted her to wear a well-groomed wig for its autumn/winter '93 show, the shaven one stormed out, saying: 'I'll wear wigs, but not just to cover my head because they think it's shocking or disgusting.'

In a world where a hairstyle can make or break a model, Eve Salvail took a calculated risk. She is one of a growing number of models who feel the need to stand out from the crowd. The same trend is evident in the high street. What you do with your hair makes a more dramatic statement than anything you might choose to wear.

The interesting point about radical hairdos in 1993 is that they are no longer confined to the young. The punks of the mid-Seventies, with their Mohicans and crazy-coloured hair, are now in their thirties and are giving the lie to the notion that you grow out of the need to make a statement through your appearance. If you were that radical then, 17 or so years, a career and children are not going to make much difference.

Junior is 30. His short, straw-coloured extensions sprout over an otherwise almost shaven head. It is a surprise to find that he is a teacher and head of a department. He had his extensions applied last January and the response at school was dramatic. His younger pupils could not believe their eyes.

'It's different,' he says. 'I haven't seen anybody else with anything like it. It's just me.'

Before the extensions he had gone through several colour changes, from deep blue to blue and red. He had a Mohican, a Human League wedge, and a short crop with lines and shapes cut into it. His hair has been a social document of the past 15 years.

Theorem, in Islington, north London, specialises in the more individual end of hairdressing, and it is not short of business. In the window hang long tresses of brightly coloured mono-fibre extensions. Inside is an atmosphere of organised chaos. 'Because we're bold, our customers tend to be bold and nonconformist, too,' says Paul Hone, the shop's owner. 'If you have a strong hairstyle there is no way you can hide in a corner.'

Mr Hone himself boasts a flattened- out Mohican with extensions, and changes his hairstyle every six weeks.

No sooner does a trend develop in the underground than it is snapped up by the mainstream. Hair wraps are a short cut to looking 'alternative', and they have been absorbed as quickly as friendship bands - the multi-coloured woven bracelets tied around the wrists of teenagers everywhere.

Mr Hone has had to employ a hair braider specially to meet demand, and agrees there is a definite trend towards more unkempt hair, what he calls 'designer hippie', inspired by the travellers.

The attractions of hair extensions and unnatural-looking hair are not new. Simon Forbes, who founded the extension specialists Antenna in Kensington, west London, and invented mono-fibre extensions 13 years ago, has watched his early customers grow up. 'I'm seeing it now,' he says. 'The post-punk generation of the early Eighties are 35 years old and are missing the strength of image they used to have.'

No one is more surprised than he is that dreadlocks are still such a strong statement. When he started weaving them into Caucasian hair in 1981, with Boy George and Hayzee Fantayzee, he never dreamt that, 12 years on, people would still be wearing them. 'Then, they were a complete no-no,' he says. 'Now we're doing them for bank clerks, people who want to stand out within the mainstream.'

There is a strong desire at the moment to look as though you are environmentally friendly and have what Mr Forbes describes as 'ethnic leanings'.

The odd hair braid here and there is a very diluted symbolism, harking back to the hippie and flower-power era. 'This is a very fragmented world,' says Mr Forbes. 'As a hairdresser I get a chance to do everything, especially in England, which is a huge melting-pot, and hair reflects that.'

Crop circles shaved into hair will never replace more conventional and practical styles, but extreme hair fashions do filter down. The very sight of Eve Salvail on the catwalk with the most extreme no-hairstyle of all is perhaps a sign of what is to come.

(Photograph omitted)

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