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Oscar facial fashion: goatee, Van Dyke or door-knocker?

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One of the more interesting trends among the men on the red carpet at tonight’s 81st Academy Awards was the mix of upper lip/chin hair commonly described -- often incorrectly -- as a ‘goatee.’ Nominees Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Brad Pitt and Peter Gabriel were all showcasing variations of facial hair that fell short of a full beard but were more than a simple mustache. And, just now, Will Smith took to the stage as a presenter sporting similar whiskers.

Rourke’s style -- a mustache paired with a separate chin beard (think Col. Sanders) -- is known generally as a ‘Van Dyck’ (or ‘Van Dyke’), after 17th-century Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck, though some might argue that the thin, narrow nature of Rourke’s mustache and diamond-shape beard actually qualifies it as a sub-style of the Van Dyke called a ‘musketeer.’

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Such a chin beard -- sans ‘stache -- would be a goatee, said to be named for its resemblance to the tuft of hair on a goat’s chin.

The style worn by Brolin, Pitt, Gabriel (as well as presenter Will Smith and Sir Ben Kingsley) -- where the mustache frames the mouth and connects to the beard in a rough approximation of a circle -- is more accurately known as a ‘circle beard,’ and referred to in various corners of the beard-growing universe as a ‘door-knocker,’ ‘moutee,’ and, in Spanish, the ‘barba candado’ (padlock beard).

And, just for the record, we have no idea what to call the two-tone, faux-Phoenix face wig that Ben Stiller was sporting (maybe the ‘Unabomber’) but Adrien Brody’s clearly been working his way to a full-on Rasputin beard in the works.

-- Adam Tschorn

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Photos from top: Mickey Rourke by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images, Josh Brolin by Chris Pizzello/Associated Press, Brad Pitt by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images, all at the 81st Academy Awards on February 22, 2009.


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