Why big hair is back!
Forget shoes and bags, we're already wearing our greatest accessory, writes Deirdre Reynolds
Bursting at the seams with to-die-for frocks and highway robbery heels, Sex and the City's glossy posse certainly haven't fallen victim to recession dressing in the chick flick of the summer.
With a gargantuan $10m wardrobe budget, eccentric stylist Patricia Field had no need to rummage through Fifth Avenue's bargain bins for the fashion-forward film.
From boom to bust and Prada to Penneys however, fans of the movie aren't quite so lucky.
But too broke to splash out in open-wallet surgery style, Ireland's crafty recessionistas have found another way to emulate SATC's perennially glam gal pals.
And forget the €500 designer shoes made famous by Manolo-loving sex columnist Carrie -- it seems a girl's greatest accessory is already attached to her. From Marie Antoinette's four-foot wigs to the cat-fighting cast of Dynasty, big hair has always been code for big attitude throughout history.
And bad news for the ozone layer -- the bouffant is back, say hairdressers here.
"Big hair is a sign of the times," says Stephanie Kocielski, artistic director of John Paul Mitchell Systems.
"Many women are resisting fashion purchases right now, so the only area where they can change their look is their hair -- and the bolder, the better."
SATC 2 might leave us lusting after Carrie's J'Adore Dior T-shirt or sparkling Kiosque clutch, but highlights are a hell of a lot cheaper, reckons hair honcho Stephen Kelly.
"A lot of women are recycling the outfits that they bought over the past five years during the boom time," says Stephen, who is the artistic director of Dublin's exclusive Zeba Hair Salon.
"But while they're not buying anything new, they are investing in having their hair done. We're busier than ever in the salon -- especially at the weekend.
"I've noticed that women are much more aware of following hair trends this year. Getting a new do is a cheap way to vamp up an old outfit."
Inspired by JLo's humungous beehive, Rihanna's Jedward-esque quiff and Angelina Jolie's voluptuous mane, cash-strapped-but-image-conscious girls are defying the downturn by letting loose on their locks.
"It's the hair equivalent of power dressing," explains Stephen. "Women are overcompensating for the fact that they might not be able to afford the designer shoes any more. In some ways, it's very anti-recession.
"There's a big hair story around for summer," he adds,
"Think really big, sexy, tousled curls -- the type of style Catherine Deneuve had in the '60s.
"Salons are seeing a return to the era when a woman would have her hair 'dressed' rather than just blow-dried for a special occasion."
Unlike back then though, these days it's possible to go from flat to flamboyant without backcombing your barnet to bits.
After taking the States by storm, a new €12 hair insert called Bumpits has just arrived to Claire's Accessories here -- and sexy Saturdays singer Una Healy has already been spied cheating her way to lofty locks with one.
In 21 years in the hair-dressing industry, Zeba's Stephen Kelly has seen countless celebrity copycat trends come and go.
"The '90s was all about The Rachel," he recalls, "the bouncy, layered style worn by Jennifer Aniston in Friends.
"Then about five years ago, The Pob -- Posh Spice's bob -- was done to death.
"Now girls are asking for Dita Von Teese's glamorous '40s-style hair."
Meanwhile, the country might still be in the chokehold of a recession -- but Ireland's Lipstick Economy is thriving.
Unable to afford the designer dresses and It bags of the tacktastic noughties, skint stylistas are instead splashing out on inexpensive indulgences like new lippie.
Dubbed the "lipstick effect" after 9/11 -- when American women reacted to uncertain times by scaling back on designer spends but splurging on cheaper luxuries -- cosmetic counters here are ironically cashing in on the recession. Sales of cosmetics surged by 20pc on last year at Yves Saint Laurent and by 15pc at Dior.
"Making a little change to your make-up is a cheap and cheerful way to create a whole new look, " says award-winning Irish make-up artist Aisling Eyre.
"Without having to invest in a brand new wardrobe, something as simple as switching to a different shade of lipstick can update your appearance.
"In the current economic climate, I'm constantly being asked about which products last longer," adds Aisling.
"My biggest tip is to switch from lip gloss to lipstick, which has more staying power and doesn't need to be topped up every two hours.
"Look towards the latest cosmetic trends on the red carpet for inspiration."