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AFORMAL white puff of smoke went up recently from the international houses of haute coiffure signaling that, after much deliberation, a new hair trend had been chosen.

And the faithful rejoiced.

Then they threw their shampoo away.

Yea, verily, for it was written in the
Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Nov.
20 -- the new look is dirty, greasy, unwashed hair:

"In certain circles, dirty hair is in.Some trendy types are shampooing less frequently. Others are achieving a dirty look by using greasy hair products. (Los Angeles salon operator Stephen Moody) cut back shampooing to once every two weeks. In his lectures to hairdressers (he) tells of his inspiration: a Swedish hairdresser who hasn't shampooed his hair in seven years. The hairdresser just rinsed his hair with rainwater that collected on his roof. 'His hair looked brilliant,' says Mr. Moody."

If it's hard to picture what that sort of seven-year itch looks like, think of actor Mickey Rourke in "9 1/2 Weeks" (or virtually every other picture he has made).

Think of Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

Think of the time you went camping and couldn't lather-rinse-repeat for days in a row. Remember how your hair looked and felt? And smelled? That's the look. It's hot. It's chic.

It reeks.

Even so, says one L.A. hairdresser, for some it also reeks of sexuality.

"The whole look is eroticism," Victor Vidal (are they all named Vidal?) told the Journal. "It's very animalistic. It's aggressive. . . . You are allowing yourself to secrete your own oils."

You are also allowing yourself to thoroughly gross out most folks within immediate range, according to some Buffalo-area stylists who find the new trend alarming.

"That's disgusting," said Louis Fumerelle Jr., vice president of the Piccolo School of Hair Design. "Why someone would not want to wash their hair, I mean, think of L.A., the smog, the dirt, my God."

Personally speaking, Fumerelle does not find the Dirty Look the least bit sexy -- "It does not turn me on, nooooooo way" -- and professionally speaking, he says the Piccolo schools would never encourage such a trend. Or allow its hairdressers to handle "greaseball" clients.

"We teach professionalism, sterilization and sanitation. Just plain cleanliness. We wouldn't let our people touch a head like that. I mean, there are products that will give you the look without the, uh . . . " Fumerelle pauses. "Smell," a reporter suggests. "Yeah, that," he says.

One such product is Molding Mud, a gel ($15 for 6 1/2 ounces) rubbed into the hair to make it look sort of greasy and clumpy, like . . . like you can't afford shampoo?

Precisely, says creator Jeri Crusenza, who told the Journal her inspiration for the gel came while watching a young homeless woman push a
shopping cart down an L.A. street.

"I thought that's just the kind of separation (of the hair) I want. You know how street people don't wash their hair and it has this wonderful greasy texture?" (You know how L.A. people don't stay in touch with reality and the conversation has this irritatingly vapid texture?)

So, let's see if we have this right: The guy with the smelly, matted locks on Elmwood Avenue arguing with the mailbox, he's an inspiration? In the '80s, he was a political statement, but now he's a fashion statement?

"Well, homelessness is a very sad situation, sure, but it does exist and that is the look," said John DiTolla, owner of the Crimpers hair salons at the Buffalo Hyatt Regency Hotel and on Elmwood Avenue.

DiTolla has seen the Dirty Look walk in; he thinks he'll see it more. "In '91, probably. There is a subculture here concerned with street chic, especially along Elmwood. You won't see it in the downtown office buildings but you'll see it here."

Like Fumerelle, DiTolla won't encourage clients to go greasy. But he won't condemn it, either. "There's probably some benefit to it. Most people have problems with dryness and this does allow natural scalp oil to come through. Hygienically, though, going unwashed for a long time isn't a terrific idea. It is important to stay abreast of things, but that's taking it to the extreme."

Becoming one of the great unwashed can also take one to another extreme: baldness.

Dr. Edmund Klein, former chief of dermatology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, now a professor of medicine at the University at Buffalo, says leaving natural oils in unwashed hair for too long can lead to folliculitis, which infects the hair follicle and can kill it completely -- "which can lead to permanent hair loss."

Besides, says Klein, "Why would you want to do this? I think this is gross. I have seen it; I can paint a very gory picture of this, if you like."

Uh, well, no thank you. I'm busy remembering the geek in front of me in sixth-grade math. The one with pants hemmed at the ankles and belted at the armpits. The one whose "outs" didn't count during kickball games at recess.

Talk about an oil crisis -- this kid's hair was so amazingly greasy that if we'd had a study hall full of heads like that, we'd be telling Saddam to go to hell right now.

And where's that kid right now?

Probably modeling for $2,000 an hour, flipping his stringy locks and pouting on the cover of GQ magazine next to an article headlined: "The Dirty Look! Hair She'll Want to Run Her Fingers Through . . . Who Cares If She Can't Get Them Out?"

Race to the shower. Last one in is Mickey Rourke.


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