La Poulette

Tastes like chicken.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hairy monsters

My route to work is a 20 minute walk, which makes its way through a chic little square filled with trendy restaurants and bars, meanders through the heart of the Bruxellois Congolese community and ends in the dull Euro quarter, home to the EU institutions. Within this kilometer of a route one passes everything from hip designer stores to filthy, old-fashioned shoe-repairmen, to what seems to be the official congregation area of the local drug dealers (I naively took them for a bunch of friendly dudes who spend most of their day just hanging out at first). I enjoy all of these features, but I have to count the numerous African hairdressers and beauticians that dot the Congolese area as my favourite. These make up for their shabby interior with ambitious titles (Institut de Beaute Nefratiti) and never seem to suffer from a shortage of customers. Indeed, the men's barber that goes by the alluring name of Espace Ambiance looks more like a jolly neighborhood pub and one where the beer has been replaced by scissors and pomade at that. But what I have a particular soft spot for is their unique attempt at promoting their services through bizarre window displays. The Body Shop was the first beauty company to advertise its products solely by these means - when it comes to the domain of beauty services however, these establishments are hot on its heels. My personal favourite has the entire length of the window display decorated with decapitated plastic heads, sporting various style of African braids on distinctly Caucasian faces. Which is almost acceptable until you notice the men's section. It starts with this:

Two-tone hair anyone?

... gets progressively more bizarre ...

He's a model and he's looking good.

... Until you reach the clincher:

Pink beard braids are so 2005.

If designers continue to take their inspiration from the street, my heart goes out to all the fashion victim men out there. But remember where you heard it first anyway.


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