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Facial Coiffure

It must be nearly 18 months now since I first made the decision to experiment with my somewhat sporadically patchy facial hair, and to my delight, I found that although I am follicley challenged in the area of side burns, I do have the ability to grow a good thick moustache – one that even Burt Reynolds would admire.

My interest in the many looks one can accomplish with the right facial hair began almost 18 months ago while I was living in London. I remember the exact moment that the idea of sporting a homegrown accessory on my upper lip ingrained itself into my mind. It was Mardi Gras weekend in Soho, London, when, bar hopping in typically drunken fashion down old Compton Street with a number of friends, we found a free spot in an overly crowded park. It was a great vantage point for people watching – one of our favourite pastimes (usually followed by a few kind comments on the ensemble that had passed by).

Well, the people watching on this particularly crowded festive evening was rather dire and left us incredibly uninspired. The vast majority of boys and men (trying to look like boys) all appeared terribly similar: the bad spray tans with a hue of orange; the waxed and groomed hair never straying out of place; the truly out of date faux hawk (which is still frighteningly popular among the clueless); and, to my dismay, even the occasional boot-cut jean. After bitching about the number of clones strutting and mincing their way through the park, a true original suddenly caught our eye. He was easily in his late 50s, with skin that looked like well-cooked lamb slipping off the shank and dressed in tight leather pants, motorcycle boots and a denim vest. To top it off, he sported a moustache that was clearly years in the making. Three decades of fashion had passed by and he didn’t even notice.

The strange thing was that in the late 80s, this very same look was considered as tragic and over done, and even somewhat comical. Remember the backlash against those looks pioneered by artists such as Freddy Mercury, The Village People, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood? Straight people became annoyed that a once masculine look had acquired homosexual connotations and the homosexual scene, for the very same reason, rejected the look with indignation. And so 18 months ago, sitting in that park in Soho surrounded by spray tans and faux hawks, this look seemed strangely fresh again. There is something to be said for having a sense of humour when it comes to fashion and not taking it all so seriously; to get dressed with full awareness of the irony.

Since that day I have played with ‘tache images straight from eras bygone – from Freddy’s 70s porn-star-chic to the handlebar style sported by the leather guy in The Village People. These styles never fail to impress, and now to my surprise we are having a revival of facial coiffure, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the mid 80s. Only two years ago, you would have never seen anyone under the age of 40 with a full moustache or beard (I’m ignoring those Goatee things a number of challenged people tried to make fashionable in the 90s) – now, we are seeing many a chap experimenting with the possibilities of facial hair, which can do everything from adding a chin to the chinless to hiding an excess of chins to the chin-full. With careful grooming, it is even possible to create a jaw line where one didn’t exist. The growing trend for facial hair is by far my favourite in years, not least of all because I no longer have to shave everyday.

Now, where to from here? Well, after visiting an exhibition on surrealism recently, I must say… “I’m feeling a little Dali.”

words: Jon Evan Hewitt
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