Cleveland - For Fall, Holiday and Winter 2008-2009, designers are pushing the mini to the back of the closet, clearing the runway for hemlines which land anywhere from knee to ankle. Whether or not this shift in silhouette serves as an accurate financial indicator, FHI Heat Inc.'s Artistic Director Les Haverty advises, "Longer skirts call for a rethinking of the hair-it's an opportunity to bring a new level of chic to everyday looks, and especially glamorous evening and holiday occasions." FHI Heat is a manufacturer of professional hair tools.
In the 1920s, Wharton Business School economist George Taylor advanced the theory that women's hemlines served as a kind of fiscal barometer: during high times, hemlines climbed higher, plummeting as stocks and other economic indicators fell. While controversial, Taylor's theory does seem to bear up in many periods of recent American history. Prior to the Wall Street crash of 1929, flapper fashion focused upon shockingly short (for the time), dropped-waist dresses which exposed the knee and even the mid-thigh, where Charleston-dancing party girls often stashed a flask of gin beneath a naughty garter. A decade earlier, women had not even dared to bare a well-turned ankle in public.
Immediately following the crash, hemlines descended, hovering mid-shin for a full generation until the 1960s, when resounding victory in the second World War, the GI Bill, and the American Dream of suburbia created an attitude of national optimism and prosperity.
"Today's economy is not robust," comments Haverty, "ironically, though, this calls for more, not less, glamour. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, when Americans were really hurting, people escaped to the movies. Cinema became the driving force in fashion, and the glamorous dressing shown on the movie-screen was a kind of reassurance that life was still beautiful, and all would be well once again."
Perhaps this sense of affirmation has inspired designers including Alice Olivia, Juicy Couture, Rory Beca, Rachel Pally, Secrets of Charm and Nanette Lepore to feature ankle-length dresses for day. Haverty feels that the elegantly elongated silhouette calls for "hair which is coiffed close to the head, calling to mind the stylized wave-sets of the 1930s."
The ideal cut for this effect is between the chin and shoulder, and waved with a small-barrel curling iron to mimic the effects of the first 1930s perms. "You need enough length to be able to create a small, undulating wave-pattern," says Haverty. "This look is more alluring and feminine, but still small and narrow in terms of its shape, to counteract the quantity of fabric used in the dresses."
Haverty recommends a side part, creating the style while hair is still damp, beginning the coax the waves into shape using the diffuser of an FHI HEAT blow dryer such as the brand's new 2100 model. Haverty uses the brand's jojoba-based Hot Sauce to protect hair during heat-styling, and to mold each sinuous wave into place.
To create a similar effect with long hair, Haverty suggests French-braiding diagonally along the hairline from a side part, then coiling the hair into a low, braided chignon which is pinned into place at the nape. "What you don't want," he says, "is the look of a lot of hair with a lot of dress. Sleekly stylized hair feels more modern with a long hem."
While the mini-skirt projects a young, rebellious sexiness, the longer skirt is languidly sensual. "The message is more 'Come to me' than 'Here I am!'," says Haverty. "It's subtle, womanly yet wearable, and perfect for elegant holiday parties and career dressing."
The new FHI Heat products are available at fine hair salons and professional beauty retailers nationwide, via toll-free number at 877.FHI.HEAT (877.344.4328) and online at www.fhiheat.com. Products offered by FHI Heat include blow dryers, styling irons, curling irons, heat razors, heat-activated conditioners, styling clips, carbon combs, brushes and a chemical straightening system. For more information about Les Haverty or FHI Heat, please call 877.FHI.HEAT or visit the website www.fhiheat.com.