Friday, February 13, 2004

Russian Prisoner's lose locks

Moscow Centre for Prison Reform deputy director Lyudmila Alpern said: "If you go into a detention centre with long, beautiful hair, there's very little chance you'll come out with it intact.

"They say to the women they have to cut hair for hygiene, because of lice, but that's not true. Wardens cut the hair because they want to have a bit of business on the side."

However, Simon Forbes, the celebrity hairdresser who invented the extension technique, said women were left in the dark about the origin of their extensions and would be horrified if they understood "the gravity of the situation in terms of supply of the product".

He said he used only artificial monofibres for his extensions. They can transform crop-haired tomboys into Botticelli Venuses in a matter of minutes.

But the growing number of women with extensions made from human hair may unwittingly be carrying a dark secret.

The trend, popularised by the likes of Victoria Beckham, Kylie Minogue and Elle Macpherson, means salons are struggling to meet demand from women who are delighted to pay for longer and thicker hair without having to wait for it to grow.

But Beckham's hairdresser, Feleny Georghiou said: "Although the hair is from Russia, it's not actually from prisoners."

An investigation has found the trend may originate in Russia's notorious prisons. To meet the demand in the West for the extensions, convicts in Russia are having their heads illegally shaved. Hair is also taken from children and mental patients.

The freshly shorn locks may then be then sent to salons, where they are glued onto the existing hair of their wealthy clients. Beckham has admitted: "My extensions come from Russian prisoners, so I've got Russian cell-block H on my head."

By Chop Chop 13 Feb 04