Hair raiser

  • Article by: CHRISTY DESMITH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 8, 2008 - 11:17 PM
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Varsity Big Hair Event: Ingrid Holm, Kara Knutson, Hanna Puckett, Micka Olin.

Photo: Matt Miranda, Star Tribune

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When the subject of big hair arises, the 1980s are sure to come up. So we weren't surprised to find guests channeling the era at Big Hair Mania, a fashion show and fundraiser for Minnesota AIDS Project at the Varsity Theater last Friday.

Sophisticated, sassy Gisela Varelas used her vintage crimping iron to achieve a rippled, cascading up-do. Even kids who weren't yet born in the '80s made an effort: Courtney Erickson, an 18-year-old cosmetology student, name-checked Pat Benatar when asked about her spiky mullet. Her friend Natalie Hanley, 15, took her cues from the 1985 movie "Desperately Seeking Susan."

For those who'd left home minus mountainous mops, a crack team of stylists from Hair Color Xperts (HCX) in Dinkytown offered $10 do-overs. The theater's lobby was littered with men and women eager to get their locks ratted, fluffed and sprayed to dizzying heights.

Denise Hart, Tammy Lynch, Merri Madson, Julie Swenson and Angie Zajac -- moms from Champlin and Andover -- came to see their teenage daughters model big-hair fashions as part of the event's official entertainment. But once they spotted the hard-working folks from HCX, they couldn't help but go under the Aqua Net. Of this group, Swenson and Zajac received the most colossal coiffures. They said they were reminded of the "rat-rat-spray-spray" routines of their youth.

As for the fashion show portion of the evening: The usual daily effort to suppress frizz and alfalfa sprouts gave way to enormous afros, faux-hawks the size of a Smart Car, Marge Simpson-esque beehives and wigs with wingspans to rival Michael Phelps.

Most impressive was the gravity-defying Bride of Frankenstein look created by Spalon Montage on model Kara Knutson. We also admired the sheer enormity of hairstyles created by Jungle Red and Miyagi salons.

Of course, the event raised more than just tresses and tufts -- upwards of $20,000 for the Minnesota AIDS Project.

Christy DeSmith is a Minneapolis writer.

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