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Familiar look for new-wave hairstyle

IT WAS bouffant at its best. Twenty- five minutes of heavenly blow drying, teasing, tweasing and combing for that ultimate gentlemen's 'Personalised Evening Hairstyle'.

It was Sunday morning and this was the first competition of the three- day World Hairdressing Championships at Wembley Arena.

'Is this the Sixties or Seventies section?' inquired a bemused Margaret Tomas from Bantry in Co Cork. In fact it was intended to be a fashionable hairstyle for the man of the Nineties, but the result was strangely surreal and reminiscent of cheesy, peely pictures in barber's shops across the country.

The 36 competing countries, each represented by three hairdressers, had made modern man look like a cross between John Travolta and Burt Reynolds complete with perma tans and lustrous moustaches.

To arrive at this suave sophistication had taken the international competitors months of intensive training. 'Look, it's a bit like ice skating, like Torvill and Dean, like any athlete, the preparation, the timing, it's critical,' John Jenkins, manager of The Ladies Team, who were to compete later in the day, said.

And, as in ice skating, there are strict rules governing the competition: the models will compulsorily wear the capes supplied by the organising committee; all neon colours as well as colour sprays and gels are forbidden.

The mandatory graduation of two colours on each model's head had led to some alarming results; copper turned to orange and red ran into a purple rinse. All part of artistic impression they said and there was more of that to come. Off came the models' capes with theatrical abandon and we were transported into the realms of Come Dancing, all glittery ties and spangly jackets.

The judges, referred to in the rulebook as the 'wise men', pondered and Craig Hubert, 26, from Chelmsford, got the gold.

(Photograph omitted)