Apr 15, 2014

Hair: Fashion and Fantasy ~ a book

There are some fun image in this new coffee table book Hair: Fashion and Fantasy by Vogue hair stylist Laurent Philippon (Thames & Hudson, October 2013). For me, it's got more surface and style than depth and history, but it sure makes good eye candy!

Photo: Christophe Kutner

“You could rewrite the history of human society with the story of hair,” says author Laurent Philippon. The book looks at hair trends from African tribal fashions to today’s runways and includes texts from contemporary figures Daphne Guinness and Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, photographer David LaChapelle, and hairstylists Laurent Philippon, Orlando Pita, and Julien d’Ys, with 
a few offbeat commentaries -- Yannick d’Is on working with Avedon, Veruschka on Ara Gallant, Patti Wilson 
on the Afro, Amanda Lepore on transsexual glamour...

There are celebrations of legendary fashion moments, such as Kate Moss’s first ever photoshoot, together with burlesque heroine Dita von Teese writing on Hollywood glamour, a street-level view of London’s Seventies punk scene, Vidal Sassoon in one of his last interviews, and beauty editor Kathy Phillips on blondes.

 Photo: Richard Burbridge

 Photo of Daphne Guinness by François Nars

Photo: Ben Hassett

 Hair by Antoine.

 Photo of Kristen by Philip Riches

Photo: Ben Hassett

Photo: Patrick Demarchelier

 Photo: Marc Segal

Photo: David Marvier, 2011. 

Photo: Herlinde Koelbl, 2007.

Apr 14, 2014

The Laquered Look

The socialite, heiress to the Singer (sewing machine) fortune, and editor of Harper's Bazaar Paris, Mrs Reginald (Daisy) Fellowes was a noted fashionable figure frequently found in the pages of Vogue magazine. One of their fashion editors, Bettina Ballard, called her “the most elegant and most talked-about woman in Paris.” She was the embodiment of '30s chic but also bold in her tastes and her attitude, daring to pull off even the most extreme surrealist fashion statements by designer Elsa Schiaparelli. (Think monkey fur, lobster dress, and shoe hat - even Schiap's Shocking Pink was created for her!)

In this 1935 photograph taken by Horst P. Horst for Vogue (who often used Tungsten lighting to heighten an image's dramatic contrast and shadowy quality), Daisy dons a satin Mandarin dress by Schiap and an eerie and fantastic lacquered wig by Antoine de Paris.

Born Antoni Cierplikowski (1884-1976) in Poland, Antoine moved to Paris and became the celebrity hair stylist of the 1920s and '30s. His clients included Josephine Baker, Claudette Colbert, Marlena Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Elsa Schiaparelli. He eventuality set up 67 salons in places as far afield as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, London, and Melbourne.

Josephine Baker in a wig by Antoine de Paris.
Photo by: George Hoyningen-Huene, 1934, Vogue.

He is credited with trends such as the bob, tinting grey hair blue, and the white/blonde streaked forelock, but what I find most intriguing are these shellacked wigs worn as hats. 1. Just wow! It's easy to see why Antoine became a "favorite of the Surrealists -- Man Ray, Salvador Dali & Cocteau in particular -- and his work certainly complemented the oneiric fillip the Surrealists managed to inveigle into every early 20th Century art-form & medium." 2.

Clockwise from top left: Wig by Antoine of Paris, 1937. Photo by Brassaï / Cécile Sorel's wig for a performance by the
Photo by Brassai / Françoise Rosay, 1932. /  Photo of
Arletty by Madame D'Ora (Dora Kallmus), 1932.

Man Ray took this photograph of Elsa wearing a lacquered Antoine wig around 1933.
"Antoine made me some fabulous wigs for evening and even pour le sport. I wore them in white, in silver, in red for the snow of St. Moritz, and would feel utterly unconscious of the stir they created. Antoine was…certainly the most progressive and the most enterprising coiffeur of these times. I wore these wigs with the plainest of dresses so that they became a part of the dress and not an oddity." 3.  ~ Elsa Schiaparelli

Wigs by Antoine from 1932. "Spinelly" style on the right

Wig by Antoine de Paris / coat by Sarah Lipska / photo by Paweł Kurzawski

1. Mary Louise Roberts, "Samson and Delilah Revisited: The Politics of Women's Fashion in 1920s France," The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 3 (Jun., 1993), pp. 657-684.
2. deep space daguerreotype
3. Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda, Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012, page 50.

Mar 29, 2014

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: The North Korean Hair Rumor

Hair styles are such a symbol of cultural conformity and nonconformity. Just like fashion, we use hair-dos to fit it or stand out. We Americans relish the freedoms we enjoy to do whatever we like with our looks, even when its tasteless to the point of offensive. So the internet rumor that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was forcing male university students in the capital to sport the same 1/2 shaved style as Dear Leader Jr. understandably went viral. It speaks to our supreme distaste for the idea of communism's cultural control.

While the mass buzz cuts may be a rumor, according to the New York Times North Korea did wage war against long hair in 2005.
"... the government waged war against men with long hair, calling them unhygienic anti-socialist fools and directing them to wear their hair "socialist style." It derided shabbily coifed men as "blind followers of bourgeois lifestyle." The country's state-run Central TV even identified violators by name and address, exposing them to jeers from other citizens.

The hair campaign, dubbed "Let's trim our hair according to socialist lifestyle," required that hair be kept no longer than 5 centimeters (2 inches). Older men received a small exemption to allow comb-overs.

The campaign claimed long hair hampers brain activity by taking oxygen away from nerves in the head. It didn't explain why women were allowed to grow long hair."
Sheesh, who knew? Glad I cut my hair off, hopefully I'll get smarter now!

Mar 22, 2014

One Single Strand of Elvis Presley Hair

One single strand of Elvis Presley's hair is on sale today!
(Well was on sale as it was on English time)


But one single stand, mounted in the middle of a gold record, was up for auction in Northumberland. And it came with a significant letter of authenticity.

Apparently a man named Thomas Morgan was friends with the crooner's hairdresser, Homer Gilleland. Homer would go on tour with Elvis, bagging and saving his hair clippings. Seems like there should be thousands of these framed mementos out there, if the hairdresser had a whole bag bagged. (and yes, there are. "As he worked with Elvis off and on up through the 1970s, Gilleland kept locks of Presley's hair, attaching them to business cards and ultimately giving large collections to friends.")

Julien's Auctions, June 2012. Winning bid: $4,160

As it turns out, today was not the only time Elvis fans had the chance to own the hair of their favorite rock star. There have been a number of offerings, but in 2009, a clump of the Rock and Roll singer's hair fetched $15,000 at a Chicago auction. The hair clipping, which belonged to the late Gary Pepper who ran an Elvis fan club and was a friend, was believed to have been trimmed from Elvis Presley’s head when he joined the Army in 1958.

And if you're asking yourself if Elvis is the only famous singer whose hair people covet, well you'd be correct to think there must be. Justin Beiber, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and Keith Richards have all had their locks up for sale.

There is such a long history of fetishizing hair and other body parts, and it makes you see the ceremony around religious reliquaries as being in the same camp of hero- and celebrity-worship. The times have changed but folks' behavior and the song remains the same.

So how much did Elvis' precious single strand sell for in the end?    ..... drumroll ....    about $250.

Feb 17, 2014

Good Luck Olympic Moustache

Yesterday in Sochi, Czech snowboarder Eva Samkova won gold in the snowboardcross competition sporting a faux moustache in the colors of the Czech flag for luck. Guess it worked!

 Photo by Cameron Spencer

Feb 13, 2014

Buddah Hairwork

This 17th-century textile depicts Buddha in a state of nirvana. It incorporates embroidered human hair - black to represent the hair on Buddha laying on his side and gray to render the withered sal tree. The work measures 170.6 centimeters high and 84.2 centimeters wide.

The textile panel was created in 1678 by a Buddhist priest and artist named Kunen, who collected hair from devotees who felt that their donation would help them in making merit and reaching paradise in death. "The phenomenon of embroidering devotional works using human hair seems to be a peculiarly Japanese response to image making, probably beginning in the thirteenth century and usually associated with the Pure Land tradition."1.

I could not find any additional information about the artist Kunen, but the press release states that he created 72 textile works, some using the hair of at least 10,000 people! Only eight of his works survive. This piece was found in 2007 at the Joganji temple in Kyoto's Kamigyo Ward. It has been on view since February 8 in the Kyoto district office of the Jodoshu, or “Pure Land” sect, located in Higashiyama Ward. Admission is free.

While not abundant, there certainly are many examples of Buddhist artwork which incorporate human hair. Most of these are in the Pure Land tradition. "Using the hair of devotees to represent sacred figures was a dramatic way to collapse the distinction between devotee and deity, to show the merging with the sacred for which devotees longed, in this life or after death."2.

LEFT: Mandala of the Two Worlds. Kamakura period, ca. 1300; silk floss and human hair embroidery on silk; hanging scroll. Taisanji, Kobe.
RIGHT: Raigo: Descent of the Amida Buddha. Muromachi period, 1400s; silk and human hair embroidery mounted as a hanging scroll. Cleveland Museum of Art.

The use of human hair in these Japanese Pure Land embroideries likely began around the 13th century and then became more commonplace in the Muromachi period (1333-1573). They generally fall into two categories - those of predominantly figurative images and those that emphasize the written word.3. Above left is an embroidered shoji Mandala of the Two Worlds, a devotional textile in which human hair was worked into all the black sacred syllables that signify deities. Above right is a scroll representing the welcoming descent (raigo), the most ubiquitous of Japanese Pure Land images, here showing the Amida triad "offering the lotus throne on which the believer will be transported to salvation."4.

"When devotees donated hair to be worked into these powerful images, another layer of meaning is added. Since hair often suggests wild, untamed, sexual energy, its use in embroideries can be seen as an attempt to control or transform that 'negative' power, to turn negative into positive, to make the imperfect into the perfect. Hair, signifying the human body, undergoes a purifying metamorphosis when used in these embroideries to depict the hair and garments, or the names, of sacred figures. The distinction between buddha and believer collapses and they become one."5.

1. Elizabeth Ten Grotenhuis, Japanese Mandalas: Representations of Sacred Geography, University of Hawaii Press, 1999, page 95.
2. Ibid.
3. Elizabeth Ten Grotenhuis, Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia, in Handbook of Oriental Studies, BRILL, 2010, page 884.
4. Ibid, page 877.5. Ibid, page 891.