Dec 28, 2014

Tallulah Gets a Haircut

August 1923 Actress Tallulah Bankhead, star of the play The Dancers,
wearing black dress and pearls, looking away from camera. Via Conde Nast

It is 1923 London. Tallulah Bankhead has been cast in a ten-month run of The Dancers.  A number of female fans dubbed the “Gallery Girls” flocked to her every performance and wanted to emulate the larger-than-life star known for referring to everyone as “dahhling”.1.  In the middle of one of the performances Bankhead surprises her co-star (and playright) Sir Gerald Du Maurier by cutting her hair into a bob. A surprising response...many of her fans sheared their own hair during the performance, tossing their locks onto the stage.2.

2. Frances Osborne, The Bolter, Knopf (June 2, 2009), page 135.

Dec 13, 2014

Beard Balls and other holiday treats

It's the winter holiday season and there is nothing quite like a parade of bobbles, especially for your beard and bouffant.

Nov 25, 2014

Hairy Alphabet

In 2008 British born designer Craig Ward designed Hairy Alphabet, a font set using strands of hair. Each letter was created with randomness, using the natural tendencies of hair to arrange itself organically and chaotically. 
He allowed the hair "to fall into shapes on his scanner naturally, only tweaking letters slightly to achieve an "incidental look", before scanning them in at a high resolution. One clump fell into a perfect circle, inspiring him to adapt his usual process of starting an alphabet with the letters 'A', 'B' and 'C', to building it up from the letter 'O'.

Oct 26, 2014

Comer Cottrell & the Do-it-yourself Jheri Curl

Earlier this month Comer Coltrell passed away. His legacy? Creating the Curly Kit, a do-it-yourself Jheri curl kit.

The Jheri curl, a permanent for African-American hair developed by the hairdresser and chemist Jheri Redding, was at the height of its popularity in the late 1970s, but it required spending tons of money going to the hair salon, buying the moisturizing products, and getting touch-ups. At $8 a box, the Curly Kit was a winner. Forbes magazine in 1981 called the Curly Kit “the biggest single product ever to hit the black cosmetics market.”

Comer Cottrell started Pro-Line Corporation in 1970 but it didn't find success until his 1980 over-the-counter product hit the market. “We looked at the curl process,” Cottrell told the Dallas Observer in 1996, “and saw it really was a simple process and people could do it themselves. It was no secret.”

Comer Cottrell, right, confers with adman Jerry Metcalf in 1977.  Los Angeles Times 

But like so many fashion trends, the success of the Jheri curl (and its derivatives) would not endure. By the mid-1980s, amidst complaints of it staining clothing and furniture and rumors that it caused Michael Jackson's hair to catch on fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial in 1984, it became easy fodder for jokes and comedians.

Comer Cottrell passed on October 3rd.

For related reading, check out Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America by Ayana Byrd and Lori L. Tharps.

Bonus: Michael Jackson getting his hair styled for the cover of Thriller (1982).

The Hair Craft Project | Artprize

Art Fag City has some harsh words for Sonya Clark's winning submission to this year's Artprize.
I do not approve of the Grand jury’s decision to split the grand prize with Sonya Clark’s “The Haircraft Project.” This was an entirely formulaic piece. A series of hairdressers were asked to style Clark’s hair. They were then photographed in such a way that they were merely a blurry presence behind their creation. After the shot was taken, they were asked to translate their hairstyle onto stretched canvas. The photographs were terrible. The work on stretched canvas inevitably ended up in the center. It tells us nothing we didn’t know already about women’s hair.
Granted, this might not be the strongest work Clark's done but I'm not sure it's as bad as the generally negative Paddy Johnson would have you. Shamefully, I haven't yet written a post on Sonya Clark's extensive body of hair-centric work, but don't you worry....coming soon!

Jun 30, 2014

Hair and urban infrastructure

  Toa Oil Company Refinery, 2014. Detail.

Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki used matted human hair to create some of his recent works. Commissioned by the Kawasaki City Museum and the Open Museum Project for the exhibition (and the artist's on-going project) Out of Disorder, Iwasaki's miniatures of Kawaski's industrial landscape were made from hair, textile fibers, and dust and inspired by the land razed by WWII air raids, a devastation to Japan with which little can compare.

In order to recreate the nine oil refineries, power plants, natural gas generators, and gantry cranes, the artist sourced images from Google Earth because the physical buildings were inaccessible. Buildings were selected for their location and perspective. "He held an impression of Kawasaki as the industrial backbone of Japan that supported the country in its years of economic growth and manufacturing boom...These landscapes exude post-war determination. Iwasaki also admitted that he was conscious of the iconic Japanese photographer Daido Moriyama's works when creating these gritty pieces. Moriyama's grainy, black and white shots of urban Japan portray a similar era as the one to which these smoky chimneys and metallic towers, representing a sweaty, manual, and industrial Japan belong."1


 Showa Shell Sekiyu refinery, 2014

With the frailty of materials at the fore, each diorama seems a melancholic poem to the vestige of Japan's earlier strength, yet their morbid palate of greys also evoke the soot, smoke and fog of Victorian England, the destructive visual leveling of volcanic ash, a post-apocalyptic scene, and shades of grey of the dying and decay of the body itself.

TAKAHIRO IWASAKI was born in Hiroshima Japan and studied MA Fine Art at Edinburgh College of Art in 2005. Out of Disorder ran Feb 15 - Mar 30, 2014.

Higashi-Ohgishima LNG terminal and Ohgishima thermal power plant 2.

But let us linger on nostalgia only briefly, for how can we not be reminded of the more recent urban devastation of Detroit?
there is only so much that the past can offer a nostalgic consciousness, which has nothing to offer but the guarantee of its spectatorship, of looking and watching—the docile view...the nostalgic wants to extinguish the world so that it can be perfected imaginatively. This has traditionally been the special enterprise of art. 3.

 Graffiti decorates the ruins of the Packard Automotive Plant, a 35 acre site where luxury cars were manufactured until the 1950s on May 2, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. Photo by Ann Hermes-Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

 In this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo, pedestrians walk by the abandoned Packard plant in Detroit.
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

 The abandoned Detroit Public Schools book depository

The abandoned Fisher Body Plant. 4.

2. Image captions from 
3. Nostalgia by Ricky D’Ambrose  / 
4. Detroit photos /

Jun 21, 2014

Brooklyn Beach Hair

Brooklyn beaches are so cool that your hair even knows your not in Long Island, the Jersey Shore, Florida, or California anymore.

"Natural sea salt gives you volume, and a dose of jojoba oil keeps the salt from being overly drying."

It's certainly not the ingredients that give this hair tonic its Brooklyn flavor, but that isn't going to stop some marketer from promoting Brooklyn Beach Hair as an obtainable look. There is a feeding frenzy over Brooklyn's cool factor right now. According to the New York Daily News, Brooklyn has become one of the nation's 30 most popular girls' names, moving from #912 in the nation to #28 in 2013. Of course of the 41 states where Brooklyn is now the most popular girl's name beginning with B, New York is not among them. We know what's up. Our garbage still stinks.

May 13, 2014

Wigs on Broadway

How a wig gets its theatrical debut! Late last week, The New York Times ran a story: The Big Wigs of Broadway. It featured pictures of wigs from the the top Tony contenders, including Aladdin, The Cripple of Inishmaan, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Of Mice and Men.
"Hand-tied wigs of human hair, the norm on Broadway, are time consuming to assemble. It took the designer Mia M. Neal about 80 hours to make an Afro for “A Raisin in the Sun.” Wigs can cost over $5,000 each."
Their special feature lists the play, wig designer, the cost, the wearer, and a short description.  Check out a few of them below or head over to the Times' website to see them all.

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!