Who decides?

I remember in the mid 80's, I became incensed by an article in American Vogue, the magazine that was accepted as a guiding force in all things Fashion and the barometer of Trend. Of course like anyone who was involved in the fashion or Beauty World, I read the magazine and took notice. But this afore mentioned article was forecasting past the shoulders long hair for Fall and Winter, YET six months prior Vogue was preaching very short layered hair with jagged bangs, what we called "poor boy" or "urchin en francaise", "enfant terrible" a ruffled casual above the car, short bangs haircut.

short hair

Haircut: Robin Barker, 1985

Yes, I was doing this kind of hair shaping at the time, not because of Vogue, simply it was an evolving style (more of that later). As I said they were recommending very long hair only 6 months after very short. Does that mean that their loyal readers were going to be "terribly passe". Hair grows appx. on average, half an inch a month, that's six inches a year. Got to trim some, maybe absolute maximum of 10 inches in two years, this is hardly down to the shoulders and this, my friends, was way before extensions. A few would throw on a wig or some would buy a fall, which was half a wig with a crown base, slick the hair back and add either or both fake bangs or a hairband, very chi chi.

I actually wrote a letter to the beauty editor... surprise... no reply.


My favourite at that time were artist sketches of the new fashions at the main couturier designer shows in, Paris, London and Milan. I made sure that I would get copies of WWD, Woman's Wear Daily, in those days it was in newspaper form. The artists would sketch the latest gowns, (the designers wouldn't allow photographers), they would add an artistic and perfectly proportionate blob on top of the head. I would take this silhouette and use this as inspiration for new looks. The natural evolvement of either growing in haircuts or simply


Robin Barker Haircut

changing a client’s hair and getting a feel of where it might go.

1) If I chose to grow in the front of the hair while close cropping the nape area, soon enough a bob would evolve.

2) Keeping the bangs, letting the rest grow would become a shag.

3) Letting the hair grow long on top gives one flat hair, layers on top, a chance at volume.

4) What is very important, if a client wished for her hair to grow in looking longer, the frontal hair must be allowed to grow and it must be cut in it's natural gravitational position.

5) I would go to areas in the City where the "kids" and art students hung out, certain clubs and either trendy  or 2nd hand clothing stores. They dared to be different, be individuals. Most of what they did was amateurish, bad hair colour and poorly cut hair. I simply recognized the potential of their expression and added a more "acceptable" shape and finish...

robin barker haircutHaircut: Robin Barker, 2011

6) Hollywood has influenced "style", in clothes and also hair. The flapper hair & short skirts. See photo of my Mother in 1929. This is a perfect example of Carnaby and Sassoon in the 60's, and of course Garbo wearing pants, later Kathleen Hepburn. In hair , Julie Christie in both her bangs and her Dr Zhivago look. Audrey Hepburn & Mia Farrow, short hair, Rita Hayworth, Lauren Bacall, Farrah Fawcett, Brigit Bardot for long fluffy hair today, Mary Tyler Moore's bangs and flip with a little bouffant was widely copied.

robin barker hair cut 






Mother 1929


  robin barker hair cut   robin barker hair cut 

Haircut: Robin Barker 1988, Style: Robin Barker 1988

7) I also would like to note, sometimes a Hollywood hairdresser, while usually very good at "dressing the hair", blow dries, rollers, including period hairstyles, wigs etc are generally not very good haircutters. Sadly, today too often we see the Ladies of Film and Television sporting very sloppy, messy and unkempt hair, not surprising, goes along with this disastrous current trend of the last few years, ripped & torn jeans. These are just as bad as the Hip Hops & the Hood's low slung pants!! Just ask a psychologist to explain this…

One of the peculiarities that I've wondered about, is that when many of both sexes look to be individuals, yet, almost like a society uniform the majority are wearing a T-shirt and Blue Jeans. I have never worn blue jeans because everyone wears them, I do want to be different, call me crazy, that's ok too. I have black denim.

Just like the Movies, Pop Culture, such as music idols, Elvis, The Beatles, today it's no different, but I would accuse some "stars" of copying some of their fans to elongate their own popularity.

However, I must say even though I still look for that "new" evolvement of hair, there are many trends that I have enjoyed cutting, colouring and styling. Again things become only too common and boring, very importantly, just because a client comes in, shows me a photo it doesn't mean it's going to flatter her, however, the photo becomes a vehicle to explain why that look doesn't work but another will.

The best advice I can give any client, male or female ie., be your self, as Clint Eastwood said "know your limitations", consider, your Lifestyle, your hair type, the texture and growth pattern, shape of face and body type. Please remember, that no hairstylist can manipulate the way your hair grows or falls with a haircut. Manipulation of hair can only come from what you do after the shampoo or cut, blow drying, a brush, round or other, flat iron, curling irons, hot rollers or other.

Express yourself, be comfortable, a truly great haircut will not only suit you and your hair but be easy to maintain. This reminds me when I was nervously going to play piano and sing one of my own songs at The Waldorf Astoria in New York in front of 500 hairstylists and members of Intercoiffeur. It was rehearsal time, stage hands rolled out this brilliant huge Grand Piano, now I was even more nervous. Just as I was starting to tinkle the ivories, a piano tuner walked up. I said to him, "OMG, you can't help, I'm only a rank amateur", he said "then you need me more than a professional!" If you think you have no talent to "work" or style your hair, then I promise you that you need the best possible haircut more than someone who has the ability to manipulate their own hair.