Mar 6, 2019

Hair: An Illustrated History / Book Review

I was recently invited to review a new book about hair by Susan Vincent.

Hair: An Illustrated History (Bloomsbury Visual Arts 2018) is lavishly illustrated and well researched. Susan Vincent focuses on how, over the past 500 years, hair practices have participated in the creation of social identities and fashionable ideals for both men and women. The book appears at a time when there is a growing body of scholarship on a variety of hairy topics. Since many books on hair are compendiums of essays, Vincent’s book stands out.

The introduction begins by looking at how visual codes of hair color, texture, and style have been used to judge character, personality, health, and overall acceptability. Following an enjoyable introduction, Vincent delves into the themes of the book and does a fine job of maintaining a lively tone throughout. While the author states clearly that her book centers on “the key ways that [hair] has been managed over the last five hundred years,” its research is mostly limited to those of European descent.

To read my full review, please visit Fashion Historia.

Left: Advertisement for Edwards’ Harlene, c.1890s. ‘Mama, shall I have beautiful long hair like you when I grow up?’ asks the girl, as she learns the lesson in the performance of femininity while watching her mother wield a hairbrush. Welcome Library, EPH154:20. Photo: Courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London.

Right: An early nineteenth-century male hairdresser attending a woman. Comb and scissors, the tools of his trade, are to hand in his coat pocket. The high points of his starched shirt, the seals hanging from his waist, and his fitted pantaloons, fixed with a strap beneath the instep, show him to be a modish fellow who pursues the latest fashions. Colored engraving, no date (early nineteenth century). Wellcome Library, ICV2046L. Photo: Courtesy of the Wellcome Library, London.

Mar 4, 2019

Laura Laine

Laura Laine is a Finnish fashion illustrator who has worked with ShowStudio, Vogue Japan, Vogue Germany, Pantene, Zara, and H&M.

She frequently illustrates women with prominent strands of long hair. Her interest in hair, however, derives little from realistic hairstyles. As Laine explains in a recent interview with Buro247, her intention is to use hair “as this voluminous element in the composition." It weaves into the clothing, billows around the head, and moves in engaging ways around the body. See for yourself.

This Rodarte SS16 illustration was part of ShowStudio’s 2015 A Beautiful Darkness exhibition.

This specially commissioned illustration, called It's Only a Game, was created for ShowStudio’s 2011 Illustrating McQueen project. 
It paid homage to a selection of fashion designer Alexander McQueen's most pivotal designs.

The sinuous and effusive strands lead one to associate Laine’s work with whimsy and delight. But the distorted and twisted lines also have a darkness that are reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley and Harry Clarke. The long hair donning the women in Laine's illustrations is not just a compositional and stylistic device; it is a signature element of her work.

Left: Fall 2014 - Marni for ShowStudio | Right: Illustration from in Espoo Museum of Modern Art’s For Fashion’s Sake May 3 – September 3, 2017

Both illustrations are from an editorial for Muse Mag circa 2011.