The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wear hair short, sport a colour streak

The older generation and younger men are constant customers, seeking “hip haircuts” that will make them “look good”. Grey hair is a fashion statement, not something to hide behind hair dye. Women want ‘short cuts’, men seek spikes, colour is creeping in and originality is the order of the day. That’s hairstyling, Calcutta style, according to guru Jawed Habib.

While the younger generation is busy hiding hair loss — a result of “today’s hectic lifestyle”, says the man who trimmed the President’s hair — the middle-aged and elderly are searching for the younger look to “feel good”. “Work and play hard, eat junk food, sleep in the daytime and party at night… it’s all bad for the skin and scalp. So, the youngsters want short haircuts and highlights to disguise the fact that there is nothing on top,” winks Habib, while hacking away at a mop of hair in his newly-opened second salon in the city at Forum.

Gone are the days when imitating a famous personality was the ‘in thing’. “Everyone wants to look distinctly different. Yes, there will always be filmi fashion to follow. But after Aamir Khan and Akshaye Khanna (the Dil Chahta Hai look), it’s a question of doing what looks good on you, not on someone else. So, people are saying ‘cut my hair in a way that suits me’, instead of ‘style it like Sachin’,” adds Habib, on one of his “umpteen” trips into town.

Though it might be fashionable to sport streaks of grey, taking special measures to ease the ageing process has never been more meaningful. “When you’re young, you have it all. Growing older takes its toll. But it’s becoming increasingly important for the older lot to look good. Just like men today realise that beauty salons are not a woman’s prerogative,” says the hair-stylist, whose salon on Ho Chi Minh Sarani has emerged as a ‘hot’ hair destination.

Despite being slow to experiment with hair truths, the city’s not too far behind in the fashion scene, with the future shaped in straight cuts and technicolour. “In Mumbai, when you say ‘get blonde streaks’, the answer is ‘ok’. Here, it’s usually ‘I need to talk to my family’. But colour is the way forward. Even Bollywood stars are now changing hair colours instead of haircuts. Also, smooth, straight hair is now very popular for the soft look, not untidy curls, which actually follows on from the Bollywood tradition of heroes with tidy hair and villains with rough hair and sideburns,” smiles Habib, snipping away at the tresses of Tollywood actress Rachana Banerjee at the Elgin Road store.

For the Mumbai-based owner of the salon chain, Calcutta is a vital market as customers here “know what they want and are willing to pay”. As for the famed Calcutta ‘convention’, “it is changing, little by little”, says Habib, scissors in hand and twinkle in eye.

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