By Allison Kaplan
Knight Ridder Newspapers
ST. PAUL, Minn. - In case his neon-pink Mohawk doesn't make the point, Jim Kolles is ticked.
The extreme hairstyle that once personified rebellion and anti-establishment is now, believe it or not, trendy. But the 22-year-old Minneapolis resident who leads a punk band with a name not quite fit to print (rhymes with grass) is fighting back.
"I'm keeping my Mohawk," says Kolles, who was unwilling to be photographed for an "establishment" newspaper. "I'm not going to let mainstream culture take it away."
Sorry, guy. It's already gone.
"The Mohawk is total, pure fashion now," says Stephen Adams, owner of the Minneapolis salon Moxie. "I've got clients in their 30s and 40s with normal day jobs wearing it. They're not afraid to shake it up."
To be fair, most of these slaves to style have not gone totally Mr. T. They're wearing a modified Mohawk, or, as it's been dubbed, the faux hawk. "Tight on the sides, spiky up top with a lot of texture," Adams describes. Comb it down and you can just about pass for professional. Gel it up and you're ready to rock with the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Trend-setting teen rebel Kelly Osbourne has been sporting a bleached-blonde faux hawk lately, but that's not why Laurel Murdock opted for the cut.
"My hair was getting longer, and I realized I could comb it up. It looks stylish," says the assistant fitness coordinator for the YWCA of Minneapolis. "There's so much sameness out there, this looks new."
The Mohawk renaissance kicked off with soccer stars like Clint Mathis and David Beckham.
Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder says he shaved his shaggy locks into a hawk as a reaction to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Then, he found that he liked the look, despite the fact that his punk style got him wrongly accused of shoplifting.
Members of Green Day and Blink 182 - bands that purists, such as Kolles, consider more pop than punk - have been wearing Mohawks lately.
Even glamour girls like Heidi Klum and Alicia Silverstone are getting in on the act with slicked-back tresses teased tall on top.
Hollywood stylist Dean Banowetz created a dressed-up faux hawk look for "American Idol" contestant Kimberly Caldwell's last appearance on the show a few weeks ago and says, "Everyone went crazy for it. It's a very high-fashion thing to do."
The faux hawk is part of an '80s revival. It's not about societal rebellion, Banowetz says. If anything, it's a George Clooney rebellion. For so long, men have been wearing the flat, close-cut Caesar style Clooney made popular, and they're sick of it. "They're moving to texture. Redistributing direction and weight. It switches the whole silhouette."
Before you sharpen your razor, consider your age. "If you're under 20, just shave it off," Banowetz says. "If you're over 20, a total Mohawk is borderline ridiculous. Consider something more modern, a tighter cut on the sides."
For those new to this hair-raising style, get yourselves some Maxxed Out Massive Hold Hairspray by Bed Head (available at salons and beauty-supply stores). Apply liberally. Then, take a flat iron and "bake it into the hair," Banowetz directs. That's what he does to "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest's much-talked-about strategically messed-up hair.
For a softer look, use basic gel. Banowetz also recommends something like Graham Webb's Hair Putty Texturizer. "If you don't have versatility, it's not going to last."
Just how long will this look last? Don't be surprised if trendsetters outgrow the Mohawk by the first freeze. Even a devoted punker like Kolles lets his hair grow in on the sides for winter. Otherwise, his noggin gets awfully cold.
© 2003, Saint Paul Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.).
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.