28th November 1999
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Making heads turn

By Laila Nasry
A comb, a pair of scissors, a bottle of gel and illusions of their imagination and soul unfold. The contestants snipped and twisted and tucked, transforming a simple head of hair into something outrageous and exquisite. In a place where each turn of the head promises an unbelievable sight, a young lady had the creativity, talent and most importantly, the ability to turn heads and win. 

"It must have been my husband's luck," smiled Romany de Mel. "Normally he never comes for my hair shows, but he turned up at this one.

Anusha fonseka representing Ramani Fernando Salons in the 'Evining hairstyle' categoryHe was there from morning and he was thrilled when I won," said the new Sri Lankan champion of "Hair Asia Pacific '99" which was held on November 22 and 23 at the Sri Lanka Exhibition and Convention Centre. Romany was placed first in the evening hairstyles category and second runner-up and fourth runner-up in the bridal make-up and ladies' haircut categories. "Last year Ruwani from our salon won. This year too, Ramzi (President of the Sri Lanka Association of Hairdressers and Beauticians, the organizers) had told Ramani (Fernando) about the competition and she asked me to take part." Romany wasn't nervous. 

Having taken part in the "Asia Competition"(a hair show that was held abroad) before, she had the experience she needed. "I didn't rehearse much. I work in the salon so there was no time to practise." Her preparation for the three categories started just a month ahead. She tried out her evening hairstyle just twice on the model as was the case with bridal make-up. The ladies haircut remained a picture in her head until the day of the competition. "The day before I coloured the model's hair. I had a picture of the haircut I was going to do. But I couldn't try it and the first time I did, it was on stage at the competition."

Not just the hairdresser but the models too play a big role. And Romany was quick to compliment her models. 

"They were professional and really helpful. Professionalism counts," she stressed. According to her needs she chose her three models -Devina, Geraldine and Sherani. "For a bridal you need a pretty model and for the other two categories you need models who can hold their own on stage," she explained. Romany has been a hairdresser at the Ramani Fernando Salon for 10 years. "My parents didn't mind me entering this profession. Both my brother and sister too work for Ramani. And they were all very supportive of my choice." She started her career just after school back in 1989. 

"It was Ramani who taught me everything and brought me to this standard and I'm really thankful to her." Her high standards and good work have not gone unnoticed, and have been recognized by Ramani herself. Presently Romany is the Manager of Ramani Fernando's Elibank Road branch in Colombo 4.

Romany de MelHowever life is not easy for Romany. Like any other working mother it saddens her to leave her two-year-old at home and come to work. "It's a very hard life," she confesses. "I leave my baby with my parents during the day and miss out on all my baby's fun. But I've got to work," she says but something in her voice tells you that she also enjoys her work immensely. And winning a competition like this makes it all the more rewarding and special. Romany has left the future to take its own course having made no plans for the years to come. "I haven't thought of opening a salon on my own," she says. "Opening a salon is not easy. You have to work really hard. And now doesn't seem to be the right time for it." However working abroad has not altogether slipped her mind. "If I get a break at a really top salon abroad I might just take it up."

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