Paula Jones's About-Face
By Robin Givhan
Her braces are gone. She has smoothed the frizzy mane of curls that once reached to such dazzling heights. Her makeup is now subtle and based on natural, not neon, hues. Her clothing is inspired by the boardroom instead of the secretarial pool. She has embraced the markers of dignity, refinement and power.
"I had been very aware of the horrible things the White House was saying about her. The main thing we looked at was what could we do to do away with all those things," says her California-based spokeswoman, Susan Carpenter-McMillan.
"She is not white trash," she says. "She is not a big-haired floozy."
Each of the changes that Jones, 31, has made in her appearance is modest by most measures. But the sum effect has been dramatic. She is proof that there is potent politics in a haircut and a well-chosen shade of lipstick.
"She has become something of a stalking horse for bigger causes; people want her to be less an object of derision," says Steven Zdatny, a historian at West Virginia University who has written about the aesthetics and politics of hair.
"It's amazing how quickly people recognize [social] class in hair," he says. "There's a haircut that belongs on Wall Street and a different one that belongs in Hollywood."
Jones's chemically fried locks belonged in a mall, in a diner, in a revival of "Grease" but not in a Washington law office, which is where she is expected to be tomorrow when Clinton gives a deposition to her attorneys, if things go as scheduled.
All of the visual speed bumps and potholes in Jones's appearance have been smoothed and patched. She has forsaken the big floppy bows that seemed to sprout from the jungle that was her hair. The fuchsia-lacquered lips have become a sober semi-matte sienna. Her nose even looks straighter, less aquiline.
The new Jones is sleeker, softer and sexier than she was in 1994, when she first made public her charges of sexual harassment against Clinton. "She did it all," observes Cynde Watson, national makeup artist for Bobbi Brown Essentials. "She maxed out her capacity for beauty."
The new look "says confident, polished and very sure of herself," Watson says. "She's showing her smarts."
The metamorphosis took place under the guidance of Carpenter-McMillan, who took up Jones's cause in July. She immediately went to the heart of the image problem: the hair. "I talked to her as a friend," Carpenter-McMillan says. "I don't know that anyone had ever talked to her about her hair."
A call went out to Los Angeles hairstylist Daniel DiCriscio. "I call myself a creator of looks," he says.
His resume: He worked about eight years for celebrity hairstylist Jose Eber. (Eber did Elizabeth Taylor's teased bouffant.) DiCriscio has been an independent stylist for about a year. He works out of "an undisclosed studio" that has no telephone listing and no name. He isn't even listed with the California Board of Cosmetology. "I took Faye Resnick blond for her Playboy shoot," he says. He styled Pamela Lee's platinum Rapunzel locks for the cover of this month's George magazine.
And he took the frizz out of Jones's hair.
"I have been working with her about five months and we were taking it slowly," he says. "I removed the perm there's a procedure you can do. It had to be taken out. It just wasn't pretty."
He softened the hair around her face, trading the frantic curls for sleek layers.
"There was a color adjustment," he continues. "It's a couple shades lighter. It's pretty much lightish brown with natural golden highlights. In pictures and photos it picks up red a lot, but there's not that much red."
As a result, her hair became more telegenic.
"Curly hair on TV can look very frizzy. It can look very unsophisticated," notes celebrity hairstylist Frederic Fekkai. "Dark hair is always harsher.
"Hair can make you look cheap or unsophisticated or neglectful or sloppy," he adds. "All of a sudden if you address texture, shape and style . . . you look more polished and credible. It's all in the appearance, unfortunately. But that's the way it is."
DiCriscio assisted with an update on makeup, choosing warm shades of brown and emphasizing the eyes. His work makes Jones look like a new person and she reportedly is thrilled. "I think she has a Sophia Loren look," Carpenter-McMillan says.
Let's not get carried away.
Some have wondered if Jones had plastic surgery. A nose job, perhaps?
"She has not had a nose job!" Carpenter-McMillan says. "She has not had plastic surgery at all. We couldn't afford it."
She has, however, gotten some new clothes. Enough with the dowdy short skirts, cheesy dresses, horrific accessories. A few trips to Nordstrom and Macy's and a couple of suits later . . . goodbye, Paula. Hello, Ms. Jones.
"One of the things I said to her is if your skirt is too long they'll criticize you. If it's too short they'll criticize you," Carpenter-McMillan says. "So we'll put you in pants."
The hidden messages of appearance particularly hairstyles have stymied a host of public women from first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark. Theirs have been subtle changes. Rare is the eye-popping metamorphosis such as Jones's.
"She's going from a woman feeling wronged to becoming a cat's-paw of political forces. She's got to look different," Zdatny says. "It may do no good in Little Rock, but it's good for Washington."
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company