Men: This is your new style icon

RICHARD HUGHES
Last updated 15:09 24/06/2014
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FRESH STYLE ICON: In the nineties ladies asked for 'The Rachel', well in 2014 gents are asking their barber for 'The Ricki'.

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I visited a top hair salon at the weekend, as you do. It wasn't me going under the scissors this time, but the No.2 son. Lucky tyke. When I was a lad it was short, back and nicked earlobes from a shaky-handed gent with a burgundy housecoat and yellowed fingers. But that's another topic, for another day.

So while I was patiently waiting, sipping a frothy hot chocolate, I was flicking through some recent magazines. Ignoring the stories on who were going to be the top teams of the World Cup (England and Spain, apparently), I moved on to a feature about style and what was, the magazine gushed, breathlessly, "Britain's most influential haircut".

I've had a bit of a hunt around since and the cut, belonging to top British model and former mechanic Ricki Hall, has certainly stirred up a storm in Britain.

It was described in London's Daily Telegraph as "an undoubtedly distinctive look; part debonair besuited Mad Men figure, part Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot, with a dash of Quadro-phenia rebellion thrown in."

"To be honest, the haircut was actually inspired by pretty old-school references," Hall told the Telegraph.

"I wanted to reference the slick side partings from old black-and-white movies, which are very gentlemanly and classic."

And the haircut is such a hit that its influence has spread (via social media, of course) from the Old Dart to men much closer to home.

"It's certainly very flattering," Hall says. "I find it peculiar when people from Australia and New Zealand get in touch saying they're going to ask for 'a Ricki'. It's pretty surreal."

And so I got to wondering. If 'the Ricki' is the cut for now, what's around the corner? Are we going to see more of the same, or is there something - a movie, a movement - that's set to change everything?

I reached out to a couple of Australia's top hair cutters to see if they could have a look at the tea leaves.

Frank Apostolopoulos is this year's winner of Australian Hairdresser of the Year at Hair Expo, and Paul MacNamara is owner and head barber at Jack the Snipper, in Byron Bay.

So, gentlemen, what can we look forward to?

"The Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire dapper hairstyle has been prominent for the past few years and will continue into 2015," MacNamara says. "Although, I think we will see some slight changes to the top.

"Guys will be keeping the close, tapered back and sides but on the top we will see a move towards a more textured, matte and natural look. Similarly, the pompadour will stick around, but again will take a more natural, casual form."

Apostolopoulos agrees with the steady-as-she-goes-for-now outlook. "It's going to be fairly similar for the next six-to-12 months," he says.

"The classic barbered look has hit the mainstream and is definitely going to stick around. Slick looks and parts will definitely exist for some time to come but what we're going to see is a change in the harshness of the look.

"Things are going to get a lot more relaxed as guys get tired of the stiffness of these styles - so short sides are going to get less extreme, the 'slick' is going to become more natural with less product, and we'll lose the shaved-in parts that can make the look quite harsh.

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"We're also going to see a lot less colour in the salons, as men embrace their greys. With the trend for classic styles, guys have become more comfortable with their salt and pepper colouring, so we're moving to quick rinses that up the 'pepper' and don't hide the 'salt'."

And what do you think of the Ricki, and Mr Hall's general look?

"The Ricki is definitely the 'it' look," Apostolopoulos says. "He's has got the right combination of everything: short, clean sides, neat parting, slicked length on top, tattoos and a full, not-too-manicured beard - all packaged up and worn with a suit. It epitomises the whole barber shop trend.

"What I like most about it is that his hair is super-neat and clean, then juxtaposed with a nice full beard that doesn't look like he's tried too hard. It keeps it looking authentic - there's nothing like an over-manicured beard to make it look like you're trying too hard."

MacNamara agrees: "The Ricki is a classic short back and sides and is very on-trend right now. I think it's here to stay for a while longer but will probably take on a less shiny, more natural look and feel on top.

"Likewise, beards and tattoos have been in fashion for quite some time and are still going strong. I suspect the beard will phase out; and some time in 2015, clean-shaven or minimal stubble will prevail again."

We all seem to look closely at celebrities to give us a clue as to what to do. Who should we be looking at to be a big influence into the future?

Apostolopoulos is pinning his hopes on Hall: "I think as the pin-up for this style, people will be watching Ricki pretty closely to see where he goes with it," he says.

"He's already gone from no-beard to beard, long to short, and short back to long - but always an interpretation of a similar look. It'll be interesting to see what he does next. He might surprise us all and turn up clean-shaven one day."

MacNamara thinks men will look elsewhere for inspiration. "Sports stars still have a big sway," he says. "With the World Cup in full swing we will no doubt see some style leave the pitch and enter the barber shop. Spain's Gerard Pique is a great example of the coming look for 2015. His look is casual, effortless and classic."

And if the style magazines are right, Pique (and Spain) could be world-beaters.

What's that you say? Really? 5-1? Oh. And England too? The experts, eh? What do they know?

Who informs your style? Soccer players? Models? Actors? Perhaps your biggest style influence lives under the same roof as you, or works in your office?

- Sydney Morning Herald

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