Commentary

'Bevel Classics,' A Hair-Raising Tale

Until recently, I’ve always enjoyed a courteous relationship with my hair. In exchange for a dutiful toweling-dry after a shower or swim, it would behave in a manner consistent with/respectful of Judeo-Christo-Islamic follicular norms. It would not kink. It would not feather. We had a mutual understanding.

Or at least I thought we did, until a recent visit to the barber-type person suggested otherwise. The visit commenced as it usually did: I took a seat, delivered my standard pre-cut line about “feeling a little woolly” and asked for the usual (i.e., make it so that I don’t have to think about my hair for at least 30 days). The barber went about his business and I went about mine. When he completed the task, I was about to deliver my standard post-cut line about “feeling eight pounds lighter”… until the hand-mirror-aided unveiling of the freshly mowed crown of my head revealed an inconvenient truth. Where there was once hair, now there was none - or, in a generous interpretation, far less.

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What the hell happened? And when? Shouldn’t I have received a text notification? As I am wont to do, I immediately started playing out worst-case scenarios (The Baldening of L., coming soon to your neighborhood movie house) and possible plans of counterattack (yarmulke!).

Then, six minutes later, I made peace with my imminent reality. My current age is not-young; not-young people tend to start losing their hair right around the time they become almost-old. Perhaps I could even spin this to my advantage. Those totally unnoticeable tinges of gray in and around the left side, right side, front, back and underside of my diminished mane? They signify hard-won wisdom, about life and love and the purchase of appliances. Ask anyone.

Still, in the days since my baldness doomsday clock started ticking, I haven’t been able to stop noticing that many guys do stuff with their hair. They part it and tease it and goop it stupid. Which is why I viewed it as a sign from above when I happened upon “Bevel Classics,” a new video series from Bevel, a maker of high-end groomingstuffs. Surely this would give me the guidance I’d need as I transition from one era of scalp-sistence to the next.

It didn’t, at least not in its first installment. But the series could well accomplish the impossible, at least for a historically coif-indifferent fellow like me: Make hair and the styling thereof legitimately interesting.

The central premise is so simple and natural that the real question is why no brand seized upon it sooner. Each of the five videos explores the origins of a hairstyle, starting with Fades. Renowned barbers bask in the spotlight throughout, explaining both the history and their role in shaping it. Clients weigh in with tributes along the way, one proudly admitting that he travels 1.5 hours each way to visit his longtime hairman (is it respectful to refer to a barber as a “hairman”? I suppose I’m about to find out) and another opining that “a great barber can hide a flaw” (oh yeah? WHAT ABOUT THE DESOLATE FRISBEE-SIZED HAIRSCAPE ON THE TOP OF MY BLIPPIN’ HEAD?).

Mostly, though, “Bevel Classics” sticks to conveying the history both breezily and, yes, stylishly (check out the elegant black-and-white hues and the piano trills that serve as a sonic backdrop). In the first episode, we learn a whole bunch about Fades, starting with their origin in the military (as a “high and tight”). In its second half, however, the video takes a turn, transitioning into an affirmation of the notion that a hairstyle can be an important component of one’s identity (“it always reminds me of home,” says one client). I wonder if Bevel expected the final product to delve this deep; either way, the company’s brand minders have to be thrilled.

I’m a touch concerned that the series is so hard to find - as of late Thursday afternoon, the series preview and first episode hadn’t made their way to YouTube - but that’s a minor quibble. Brands usually overload on the style side of the style/substance equation; the makers of “Bevel Classics” deserve a heap of credit for not letting one override the other.
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