Home beauty France’s hairiest exhibition explores history’s hirsute trends

France’s hairiest exhibition explores history’s hirsute trends

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France’s hairiest exhibition explores history’s hirsute trends

I never thought I would hear Tom Selleck’s mustache discussed in the same breath as a royal wig made of pubic hair, but the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris is full of surprises.

Both are part of the museum’s exhibition “Des Cheveux et des Poils,” which translates to “Hair and Body Hair” (or fur) — the museum’s latest attempt to explore the relationship between the human body and fashion (recent shows have interrogated footwear, the rules of attire and undergarments).

Boasting 600 works dating from the 15th century to today, the show, in the museum’s words, “demonstrates how hairstyles and the grooming of human hair have contributed to the construction of appearances for centuries.”

A fair share of the unusual is on display, including a full body suit that resembles a blond Wookie and several wigs shaped like animals. While Selleck’s mustache remains attached to his upper lip, the display dedicated to his facial hair includes footage from “Magnum, P.I.” Elsewhere, the aforementioned royal wig — worn by Britain’s Charles II and supposedly made of hair from his mistresses’ nether regions — is represented by an empty stand, with the original believed to have been destroyed.

Despite bordering on the bizarre, the exhibition uses these pieces to explain how hair has long been exploited by fashion and used to express identity. Hair, wherever it may be, has been a tool of both self-expression and oppression, of protest and societal progress.

A collection of the unusual

For Rachael Gibson, a journalist who runs the popular Instagram account The Hair Historian, the exhibition is a welcome opportunity to examine beauty trends in an academic way that is usually only reserved for fashion.

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