"Fashion is out of fashion," says Paris hairdresser Bruno Dessange, quoting Cocteau. "Fashion doesn't exist any more," he adds.

Dessange, who opened a twin of his New York salon in Georgetown recently, likes the current freedom of fashion choice in clothes and applies it to hair as well. "If a woman came to me with long hair and asked me if she should cut it short, I would say 'no' if I thought she was more at ease with long hair."

But, in fact, he is cutting more hair short this year, just as designers, who say there is no preferred silhouette, have tilted to a longer and lean look. And his haircuts are often freer, looser.

"We have arrived in the matriarchal epoch. Men, in advertising, are sold like women. Michael Jackson and Boy George have established a look that is neither man nor woman. And a woman now takes care of her own life. Her hair follows from this idea, self-assured, strong, sophisticated. Women are free in the head," he says. "Women work like men; they take care of themselves like men."

Dessange, who does the hair of Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Donald Sutherland and others, wears a black and white costume with big graphics he has created for other stylists in his shops to wear as well. The Georgetown shop is all white like a laboratory, with mirrors that stop halfway up the wall -- "I don't want the stylists to spend their time looking at themselves more than the clients," he laughs.

Dessange, whose real name is Bruno Pettini, is partner with Jacques Dessange (from whom he adopted his surname) in 15 salons in Paris, 200 in France plus an immensely successful school where all those who work in the shops are trained. He collaborated on models' hair for the Calvin Klein show, and for Thierry Mugler, Anne-Marie Beretta, Azzedine Alaia and others in Paris.

But for private clients, he says, "I have to notice everything -- a woman's earrings, her dress, her makeup, her shoes, her voice. They give clues to a woman's personality. The true role of a hairstylist today is that of a psychologist."