The New : Short and Sweet

For the past 15 years or so, short bangs have had little place in fashion except as the bane of fourth-graders, whose mothers insisted on a chopped-off fringe to save money on haircuts. Months could go by before the hair inched down over the eyebrows enough to necessitate another trip to the haircutter's.

But sleek, short bangs were the coiffeur of choice in European designer shows last fall, and Valley hair stylists have brought it home for spring. Geri Cusenza, co-owner of the Cassandra 2000 salon in Tarzana and creative director of the Sebastian International Hair Products Co. in Woodland Hills, called the look reminiscent of "Italian cinema of the '50s: It's sleek, flat, shiny, short and shapely."

In other words, think of Giulietta Masina as the circus waif in "La Strada" and you've got the picture . . . almost. Masina, of course, was a blonde. And Cusenza prefers this look on brunettes. "It looks better with the clothes," she said, recalling the clean lines and iridescent fabrics of the European spring collections. "And, with a brunette, you can really see the shine."

So for spring, blondes won't have more fun, especially if they go crazy with mousse. "We're getting away from all that spiking, stiff hair seen in the last three seasons," says Cusenza. "This season it feels better. It's hair you want to touch again."

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