The Evolution of the Wig
Posted on 26 January 2017
On rainy afternoons here in Portland, it is always relaxing to snuggle up by a fire with a hot cup of coffee and dive into a large stack of vintage Vogue and Harper's Bazaar magazines. Can you relate?
On this particular afternoon, amidst the gorgeous fashion editorials and human interest pieces, the ads jumped off the page in a fascinating way.
After the third or fourth issue, a common theme could be traced: skin care, makeup, weight loss, and... WIGS!
When you read about the history of wigs, the evolution moves from the Egyptians to other ancient civilizations, and on to King Louis XIII who was presumably bald. Various hair pieces and elaborate wigs were popular among French and other European royalty into the 18th century, becoming a part of the British court system that still exists today. Black women have used wigs throughout the entire 20th century, but other wig styles dropped in popularity at the beginning of the 20th century, with many people opting for natural hair styles.
That was until 1968, when there was a huge rise in wig sales. Mass produced acrylic wigs burst on the scene for the first time and quickly oversold their handmade predecessor. These wigs arrived at the perfect time, offering a cheaper, washable accessory that was up to the challenge of keeping up with the quickly changing styles of the time.
This wig boom was evident in the advertisements of the time, showing off the endless possibilities for these fun and exciting tresses.
Kanekalon acrylic wig ad featured in Vogue, March 1, 1971
I can see the appeal of these affordable accessories! You could change your look in an instant, going from waist-length braids to a mod pixie in minutes without committing to a big cut.
You could pick out and order your favorite styles right out of the magazine!
Various Mail-In Wig Advertisements
Who was the ultimate hair chameleon? The one and only Diana Ross.
From au naturale, to brilliant bouffant wigs, Diana Ross is the queen of hair.
Since the 1980's, the wig itself seems to have completely dropped out of modern advertisements. Hair extensions and their ability to quickly turn a short bob into luscious locks have taken their place, offering a more natural look.
I can't wait to see the next stage of hair adornment, and perhaps a resurgence of these creative and fun accessories! Which wig would you want?
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