THE Frédéric Fekkai salon on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was bustling two weeks ago as patrons sipped Champagne and chattered, waiting to have their frizzy locks shaped into coiffed 'dos. As often happens this time of year, gossip turned to the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards and what hairstyles would be hot on the red carpet.
"Hair will be simple, sexy," said Seiji Kitazato, the salon's creative director, as he coaxed a flip out of the tangled mop atop the woman seated in his chair. "Gentle curves, very old Hollywood. But updated this year, so it's a little messy."
As the economy has taken a turn, so too has the public's tolerance for extravagant display. And this year stylists expect celebrities to take their cues from stars popular during the golden age of Hollywood, edging toward classic looks and away from any trend that smacks of ostentatious consumerism.
Stylists agreed that curls will frame necklines, replacing jewel-crusted chandelier earrings, as the newest fashion accessory. Kohl-ringed eyes, like those peering beneath the Bond girl Eva Green's bouffant at the 2007 Academy Awards, will be replaced by softer, smoky colors. And if anyone is wearing handmade mink eyelashes such as those promoted by Jennifer Lopez in recent years, it is likely they won't be bragging about them.
"Who is going to want to read about an actress wearing $500 false eyelashes when some people can't make their mortgage payments?" asked Pati Dubroff, a makeup artist who styles Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Watts. "No one is going to be pushing the envelope. It's going to be safe and simple, and I don't think there is anything wrong with that."
Such restraint in deference to economic turmoil or, for example, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is not without precedent. Hollywood is hard-pressed to curb its overindulgent ways, but has proved it can tone down the pageantry when it wants. Five months after the 9/11 attacks, for example, Nicole Kidman appeared on the red carpet at the Academy Awards with elegant subdued waves while Sandra Bullock and Julia Roberts swept their hair up in a helmet of tight curls. Those styles are not unlike what stylists predict fashion watchers will see at the coming awards shows.
Unlike 9/11, which prompted organizers of the Academy Awards to cancel red carpet festivities, a longer-lasting economic pall over the industry will linger, perhaps for years. Sally Hershberger, a top celebrity hairstylist who commands as much as $800 for a cut at her New York salon, said she expected beauty trends to hark back to classic styles that saw their birth in the Depression, and reached an apex in the 1940s when Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall became fashion icons. In the 1950s, the porcelain-skinned Grace Kelly and her remote elegance reigned onscreen.
Recently Ms. Hershberger said the designer team of Badgley Mischka hired her to style Eva Longoria for an advertisement and she chose the coif popularized by Ms. Lake, signature peek-a-boo bangs covering one eye. (Ms. Lake once said of her pin-up popularity: "I never used cheesecake. I just used my hair.")
"It was more flat and sculpted," said Ms. Hershberger of Ms. Longoria's curls. "Nothing high on top, plus lots of finger waves. That always looks cool."
Of course, women wore hats in the 1930s and '40s, which is why hair was shaped to their heads. Actresses, too, sought to evoke a sultry innocence, something that is absent in this era when cover photos of pouty-lipped, nearly naked actresses populate magazine racks.
To modernize the look, Ms. Hershberger and others who are styling stars for the awards shows said curls would be structured, but not as tightly wound as earlier periods. Think Cybill Shepherd from the 1971 hit "The Last Picture Show," which depicted life in a small Texas town in the 1950s. Or January Jones as Betty Draper on "Mad Men," a cable series about advertising executives in the late '50s and early 1960s, said Ms. Hershberger. Ms. Jones manages to impart a chilly allure reminiscent of Grace Kelly.
One thing this year is definitely out: the Malibu Barbie ropy strands still so popular among younger celebrities. "Fashion has moved on," said Annabelle Tollman, a stylist who works with Scarlett Johansson. "The super tan sexy look, with the loose hair and shimmering makeup, that's done. It doesn't feel right. It looks trampy and unsexy these days. It's not what I would be pushing."
For the face, understated but tasteful is key. "You don't have to wear sackcloth and ashes," Ms. Tollman added. "You don't have to stop enjoying yourself." What that means is matte lips, perhaps red — shiny glosses will be tucked away in the makeup drawer this year — and skin that is nude, softened with pink blush on the cheeks. That is what Reese Witherspoon chose for the Country Music Association awards in November, said Angela Levin, a makeup stylist who is best known for working with Jennifer Aniston.
"We decided to keep her makeup simple and just give her red lips," she said. "And no heavy black. If I were to give it a name, I would say 'romantic.' I can only imagine because that is what I am in the mood for. In a weird way, the people who go to these things are beautiful by nature anyway. You don't really need to do that much."
So much so, she said, that she too is cutting down on what cosmetics she will use at the Golden Globes and other shows. (She has a list of candidates to style, but will do only two.) "I carry a small cosmetics store," she said. "But you know what? I don't need all that. I find myself saying, 'I can do an eye with two shadows.' I'm no longer going to worry about using 15 products. You can do a face with four colors."
For those actresses, though, who are looking for a more dramatic look, stylists are recommending smoky eye shadows and liners — gray, purple and brown, but no black. The mink eyelashes won't fly, either. But even with talk of Hollywood sirens toning it down a bit, there is one thing few are likely to completely give up despite the natural trend: Botox and other injections for wrinkles.
Last year several actresses — among them Priscilla Presley, who performed on "Dancing With the Stars" — were criticized for extensively remodeling their faces with too much surgery and cosmetic fillers. In November, after noticing that her cheeks looked unnaturally full, Lisa Rinna admitted that she had been using too much Juvéderm.
"Hollywood is getting a lot of flack — there is a black cloud over people," said Ms. Levin, adding that this year "you won't see lots of puffy lips."
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