geometric buzz cuts and colorful hair tattoos inspired by 90s punk culture
Hairstylist Janine Ker remakes retro trends with razors and rainbows.
i-D Hair Week is an exploration of how our hairstyles start conversations about identity, culture and the times we live in.
Southern California artist-turned-hairstylist Janine Ker specializes in candy-colored hair tattoos and carvings. On a short brunette bob, for example, she stenciled on retro cassette tapes, and added rainbow dots to rose-gold hair. For a client with a bleached buzz cut, Janine dyed sections of her hair orange, lavender, turquoise, and pink, and then carved each into geometric shapes. On another, she painted on bright tropical flowers, and then meticulously cut around each petal and leaf. "Hair tattoos and carvings work best for someone who isn't afraid to make a bold statement," Janine explains. "It says, 'My hair is mine!'"
Janine has been making a statement with hair since the third grade, when she got her first pixie cut. It was the late 1980s, and her aunt had just gotten one too. "I remember getting teased about it from the mean girls at school," she says, "but I think that helped me have the courage to stubbornly follow my own style early on." In high school, Janine chose haircutting as her senior project, and taught herself how to do it by reading a book. "I spent the next 12 years cutting my own hair and anyone's who would let me," she says. "It wasn't until I was 30 years old that I decided to leave my career in human services and begin my hair career."
Janine currently works at Salon Aguayo in Pasadena, and her work there is still largely informed by her past. "I tend to be very nostalgic," she says, "and my work is a way to express that." She pulls inspiration from 1960s to 1990s fashion, punk and garage music, vintage fabrics and patterns, and old nature encyclopedias. "Pretty much an amalgamation of my high school bedroom," she says. Last year, Janine came across a 1970s-era photo of a Euro-punk with a shaved head, and decided to put her own twist on that style. She made the look more feminine, used cuter colors, and added in her own experience with the punk revival of the 90s. "It's the sophistication of old techniques," she explains. "When today's salon stylists take on 90s punk or garage hair colors, it equals rainbow or unicorn hair."
Janine herself has a black, early 60s Beatles-cut, which she is trying to grow out into a pixie, like the one she had when she was younger. "I am fascinated with that time of my life because I think it is us at our rawest, most impressionable, yet most defined self," she explains. "It's who we [are] before the calluses start to form."
Text Zio Baritaux
Photography Janine Ker