June 07, 2007

Style Icons And Their Hair-raising Ways

By H Natarajan

Modern sport is more than sports; among other things, it’s also about glitz, glamour and grooming. Millions of dollars ride on megastars who cash in more from the off-field persona than on it by virtue of the huge public and media interest they generate.

Fashion and lifestyle glossies pay copious attention to these international style czars. Much as they wow the masses with their sporting talents, these stars also gain global attention for their flashy cars, their swank villas, their designer wear, their opulent lifestyle and the glamorous arm-candies they strut around with. Even the hairstyles of some of these stars evoke much interest - even maniacal fan following. And this column will focus on those glam stars that have become fashion icons for the statements they make with their flashy hairstyles.

For sheer kaleidoscopic variety, few can match the great David Beckham’s cornucopia of hair styles. The styles have ranged from ironed-out straight, to shaven-clean, to spiked, to high pony-tail, to flowing long mane, to a care-free look. He even sported a bleached Mohican hairstyle at the 2002 World Cup in Japan. In fact, the Japanese media subsequently carried reports of a trend among Japanese women in styling the hair of a very personal part of their anatomy like Beckham’s Mohican hairstyle!!! Beckham’s varying hairstyles have also come in different hues for added affect.

Not surprisingly, the interest in his hairstyles is not far behind his football, his posh life and his Posh wife, the equally glamorous Victoria “Posh Spice”.

Beckham, of course, is a colossal personality in world sports. Last year, 2,000 bottles of the “David Beckham Instinct” Cologne he endorses disappeared off the shelf on Day One of the launch.

The sport of football has seen many players with eye-catching hairstyles, but notable among them are: Nigerian Taribo West, Frenchman Djibril Cissé, Brazilian Ronaldo, Italian Roberto Baggio and Dutchman Edgar Davids. Taribo West sported three green braids on a partly-shaven head – two braids looking like sprouting horns and the third in the form of a pony tail. Ronaldo once shaved his head bald, except for a ridiculous-looking semi-circular bush of hair in the front of his head! Cissé is another player who is known for frequent hairstyle that defies description. But two men who are loved for their ponytails are Roberto Baggio, who was nicknamed “Divine Ponytail” and Edgar Davids.

When it comes to being a total maverick, NBA star Dennis Rodman takes the cake, the bakery and the baker! He brings in huge shock value, but he flaunts his outlandish non-conformism like no one else – be it his cross-dressing, his piercings, his tattoos, and last, but not the least, his psychedelic-colored hair. If you thought such a weirdo could only hope to score on the court, think again. Rodman was married to Baywatch girl and singer-actress Carmen Electra and dated Madonna.

There are some sportsmen whom you cannot relate to except in their unique avatar. There is Valderemma, the Colombian midfield football star, for example with his voluminous, curly, bush of orange hair. Then there is Monty Panesar. The English left-arm spinner’s hairdo has everything to do with his Sikh religion, but such is his popularity that one can find a long row of fans at matches sporting a beard and patka similar to the Sardar.

Of the current lot of cricketers, the two who attract most attention for their hairstyles are Kevin Pietersen and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Pietersen not only keeps changing the pattern of his hairstyle but also the colors – blue, white

Dhoni’s hair is less colorful and less shocking, but few cricketers can match the attention his hairstyle generates. Dhoni’s long and rather unkempt hair of the early days even caught the attention of Pervez Musharaf. The Pakistan President advised Dhoni at a post-match ceremony: "A lot of placards in the crowd have suggested that you should get a haircut. But take my advice; you look good in this hairstyle!"

Dhoni influenced youngsters across the length and breadth of India to sport hairstyle similar to his. But the unruly look of old has come in for grooming from famed stylists. The length of the hair has come in for a trim and the mane has brownish streaks that are in keeping with the modern trend. And, no, the Samson has not lost any of his awesome powers since the hair cut!

But the cricketer who, arguably, made himself more famous for his colorful hairstyles than his cricket is Colin Miller. The Aussie’s dyed head ranged from shocking blue to bright-red orange, to grass-green. And, no, he did not limit himself to these colors. Even Shane Warne, who himself was no mug when it came to frequent changing the style of his hair, was no match for "Funky" Miller’s fluorescent colors.

Then there was Zimbabwe’s Andy Blignaut who once sported a rainbow of colors which reflected the colors in his country’s national flag.

Of the present Australians, it’s Andrew Symonds who stands out with his dread-lock hairstyle – much like Yannick Noah did in his playing days on the ATP Tour.

If there is one Indian cricketer who not only sported unconventional hairstyle but carried it off in style, it is Vinod Kambli. There was always the Caribbean flair in Kambli, whose nickname is “Dessy” – after Desmond Haynes. Not only did the flamboyant Kambli sport gold chains like the West Indians, but he looked a part of their culture. His ebony-hued complexion came in handy when he sported the corn-rows hairstyle like no other celebrated Indian.

One cricketer whose unruly mops of copious curls added to his magnetism as a cracking all-rounder was the tall and well-built Kiwi, Chris Carins. I remember a girl telling me once: “I found myself in the elevator with this hunk and, boy, I went weak in my knees.”

An equally good-looking guy whose curly mop that appealed to scores of young females was the shy and boyish-looking Irfan Pathan. But sadly, the mops have gone to a bald pate. And, yes, this Samson has lost his powers of old when he had those generous curls that made girls swoon.

It’s these colorful characters who make sports colorful in more ways than one.

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