Mirror, Mirror: On Halloween, 'the wig makes the character'

MBFW Spring 2014 - Herve Leger
Nicki Minaj attends the Herve Leger collection on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York. ( Amy Sussman/Invision/AP)

Finding the perfect wig for your Halloween costume can be the difference between a trick or a treat.

Especially this year when our celebrities du jour - many of whom do scary things all year long - are so creative when it comes to coifs.

Think Nicki Minaj's ombré, white-to-pink tresses; singer Miguel's dark pompadour; and the signature Afro of Philly's own Questlove Thompson that isn't complete without a perfect power-to-the-people pick.

"The wig makes the character," said Lois Arnold, owner of Lois A. Wigs on South Fourth Street. "It's the wig that makes the costume."

In the hair business since 1969, Arnold has had several salons in West Philly, including Nefertiti Itno-J Salon & Spa. As a stylist, she has worked with old-school Philadelphia artists including Patti LaBelle and Teddy Pendergrass. She regularly worked on Gladys Knight, too.

When Arnold started selling wigs five years ago, she wanted mainly to help cancer patients who had lost their hair to chemo treatments. But she quickly realized that Halloween would be her serious moneymaker.

"I just love helping people be who they want to be," said Arnold, whose wigs sell for $18 to several thousand. "Even if it's just for one night."

People typically spend less than $100 for Halloween wigs, cutting and styling included.

Hard-core Halloween shoppers, Arnold said, start looking for the right wig in August - that's when she got her first Liberace customer.

This season, she says, Liberace surfaced as one of her more requested looks, thanks to this year's HBO biopic starring Michael Douglas, as did Miley "the-girl-with-the-finger" Cyrus. Expect more than a handful of Kate Middletons and Katy Perrys to land on your doorstep, too.

Miguel

When Arnold first saw the suave singer's hair on NBC's The Voice, something told her he'd be a popular costume choice. She was right. Styling this look is easy, said Arnold, who cuts a bit from the sides, fluffs up the top, and voilà. The only other thing any Miguel impersonator needs is a shiny, fitted suit.

Nicki Minaj

In the last few years, Arnold said, Minaj has been among popular, if not the most popular, wigs she sells. The ombré style comes in blue-and-white and red-and-black, Arnold said, but pink is most favored.

NeNe Leakes

One of America's most recognizable Housewives has a wicked personality and a signature hairdo. "This look," said Arnold, who trims this wig, "is all about style, too."

Miley Cyrus

This twerkerette look is part pompadour, part tight, tapered ends, and a full load of attitude. Once you've got the hair down, you need to wear only a little, very little, leather. Oh, and don't forget to dress your dude à la Beetlejuice.

Kim Kardashian

For most of her reality-TV career, Kim Kardashian has done the sultry, shoulder-length brunet look. That was until early last week, when she emerged from her post-baby hideaway noticeably thinner, and wearing an $8 million engagement ring and way-blond hair. So fans who want to go all Kim K. on Halloween can choose from Kimmy I pre-engagement, or post-engagement Kimmy II.

Beyoncé

After starting the year swinging her trademark long, blond mane, Beyoncé surprised fans this summer with an Instagram photo of herself with a close cut. That lasted about a day. At the moment, she seems to have settled in on a white-blond bob that we saw a lot during her recent Italian vacation with hubby Jay Z.


ewellington@phillynews.com

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@ewellingtonphl