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Sleek Chic : Holiday Hair Gets Swept Up in Slick Chignons or Classic Curls

WHILE BOBBED hair with or without bangs is the current daytime do for powerful women in powerful jobs, sleek hair--pulled off the face--has become the au courant style for holiday nights.

To create the look, the hair is secured into a ponytail at the crown, and the tail is either slicked into a tight chignon or curled into a mass of tumbling tendrils. The effect is a chic, controlled coif, similar to Audrey Hepburn’s look in “Roman Holiday.”

After years of wearing flattering, face-framing hair, most women need extra self-confidence to wear styles that put the facial structure and neck into full view. “Sometimes women hide behind their hair--not this year,” says Umberto Savone, owner of the Umberto Salon in Beverly Hills. “The chignon is for a woman who feels beautiful.”

The hair style works well with this season’s party dresses, which range from the bouffant to the figure-hugging. The hairdo demands bold earrings and natural-looking makeup that doesn’t conflict with the jewelry.

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Many Los Angeles women have switched to the sleeker look for evening, though Savone reports that some of his clients have carefully previewed these new styles before an important engagement. He says that women have come to the salon a week before an event--such as the recent gala Valentino fashion-show benefit--to try out the style. When they are sure that they can wear it comfortably, they come back to have their hair sleeked up immediately before the big date. “They want to practice wearing such an elegant look,” Savone says.

Ingrid Klee, who has salons in Beverly Hills and Frankfurt, Germany, says that the “up” do has been extremely important in Europe for more than a year. “It’s too severe for women over 50,” she says. “But it’s a new look for the young girls. It goes with clothes from the ‘50s.”

Klee, who has styled models’ hair for the ready-to-wear shows of designers such as Valentino, Ungaro and Claude Montana, says that the return to classic fashions has been the impetus for the return to the timeless upsweep. Savone concurs: “This is not the bouffant upsweep of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” he says. “This is classic, yet contemporary. Because it is slicked close to the head with gel, there’s plenty of shine.”

Gels provide sheen and serve a function. For women whose hair is too short to put up, gels help to slick wisps into place. If the hair is too stubborn for even the strongest preparations, hairpins may be a solution. “Bobby pins and hairpins are back in style,” Savone says.

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One of the hallmarks of the late-'80s upsweep is its versatility. Variations on it--with or without the added boost of hairpieces--are endless. And with variety inherent, the sophisticated appeal of the upsweep may last long after the holidays.

Hair and makeup: Sher Kohr / Zenobia; model: Leslie Ledezzema / Elite; styling: Kate Bergh / Zenobia; dress: Nordstrom; earrings: Chic Accessories.


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