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Styling the mane

Hair stylists need a sense of humour besides talent and creativity, says Jawed Habib, a leading hair `designer', who was recently in the city.


ONE OF the leading hair stylists in the country, Jawed Habib hails from the first family of hair sculptors. (It is said that his grandfather used to cut the hair of Pandit Nehru, Lord Mountbatten and even Mahatma Gandhi).

A graduate in French literature and an alumnus of the famed Morris School of Hair Dressing, London, the creative hair artiste was in the city recently, sporting a spike like hair-do reminiscent of David Beckham, the British footballer, for the launch of his salon `Habibs' at the Shopper's Stop.

Amiable and quick-witted, Habib brings with him the knowledge of the latest hair designs and techniques necessary to create innovative styles that go with Indian culture and hair texture. In an interview, the `designer' speaks on the growing relevance of hair styling in an increasingly beauty conscious world.

What brings you to Chennai?

I want to popularise Habib as a brand all over the country. People should be able to experience a touch of Habibs in all our 25 branches across the country.

How beauty conscious do you think are the Chennai-ites?

There is a basic difference in thinking between the people of Chennai and Delhi. Here, education is more important than fashion and beauty. As a result, experimental thinking is lacking. But the trend is changing. Today everybody likes to look good.

What is the most important quality required for a hair stylist?

A sense of humour. People come to a salon to relax and forget their problems. A hair stylist should be friendly and fun loving. Creativity is also equally essential to stay in the reckoning.

Do movies influence hair styling?

Of course, a lot. About 85 per cent of India's population lives in villages. For them, their role models are film stars. They imitate everything their stars do. A good number of our customers come with the request to cut their hair just like that of their favourite stars.

Do you have any celebrity clients?

There are no celebrities for me. They are all just like any other ordinary client. They become celebrities because of my hair styling (laughs).

Is there anything called a perfect haircut?

A perfect haircut is where the length is not a criterion. It is like balancing the whole personality, taking into consideration the client's age, hair texture, skin tone, professional background etc. You are actually designing a client's personality.

How professional is this field?

Hair styling is just like any other profession. But unfortunately there is a lot of stigma attached to this field in our country. People think that hair styling is not a respectable profession. But the attitude is changing in the metros, where you are today looked upon as a `hair designer'. In fact, the rise in popularity for hairdressing can be gauged from the fact that at the Hairdressing Academy in Delhi, there are around 60 to 70 students at any given point of time.

Is there a need for a formal training in hair styling?

Hair dressing is like painting with your scissors on a moving canvas. But unlike in a canvas, here if you mess up, you cannot throw it away. Hence, professional training is imperative. In my opinion, fashion and hairstyling are going to be the future professions of this country.

How relevant is hair styling for fashion?

Hair is the crown of fashion. If your hairstyle is not good, no amount of physical attributes or sartorial elegance can make up for it.

But do you think people here will emulate the kind of wacky hairstyles you see on the ramp?

Hair styling is not just what you see on the ramp. In India, hair styling is interlocked with culture. A woman with a shaved head daubed in colours may be fashionable in the West. But here, people will think that you are crazy. They will acknowledge only a style, which is culturally acceptable to them.

What are your future plans?

I want to go global. It is only when you compete with international brands can you prove your worth. I have also plan to start a hair dressing school in Chennai.

Who cuts your hair?

(Laughs) Anybody can cut my hair. Sometimes my family members, sometimes my students during their examinations. Anyway I am not too finicky about it.

* * *

Some useful tips

Here are some of Habib's tips for hair care.

A well balanced diet with plenty of proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables. Less fried foods, starches (rice, potato etc.) and sweets.

Wash your hair regularly with a mild shampoo depending on your hair type.

Have your hair trimmed every four to six weeks to get rid of split ends and have it styled.

Always select best gadgets for personal hair care. Use soft combs, a good brush and no elastic bands. Don't use harsh nylon or metal combs.

Never brush hair when it is wet. Use a smooth-edged, wide toothed comb.

Increase circulation and the blood supply to hair roots with regular massage (not recommended for very oily hair types)

Overcome the effect of excessive heat and sun burn, pollution and other damaging effects with proper hair conditioning.

Avoid back brushing and backcombing.

Never over wash your hair because this may strip the hair of its natural oils.

Go for regular exercises.

SANGEETH KURIAN

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