The Musée des Arts Décoratifs presents a wonderful exhibition, "Des cheveux et des poils", exploring a new aspect of our relationship with the body. The playful journey offers a chance to discover the modes, claims, and clichés conveyed by hairiness, skillfully mixing learning and humor. In short, a stunning experience !
A wild scenography
The crazy scenography sets the tone from the start, with incredible hairstyle tutorials and a rock playlist amid paintings from different periods displaying the haircapades of our ancestors and no fewer than 600 objects, each more unusual than the next, including a multitude of combs, picks, and headdresses, from which today's scrunchies, clips, and barrettes inherit.
Instructive and LOL-worthy
The exhibition shows how hair and hairiness have been instrumentalized throughout history. The exhibition features a multitude of sexist ads for women's razors and all kinds of hairdressing tools, making it clear how inventive humans can be in controlling the much-hated female hair…as well as in hiding their emerging baldness and graying hair.
A focus on hair and hairiness trends
No room for complexes in this exhibition! We learn that even Caesar used wigs, just like the Egyptians, who used wigs and false beards abundantly. Throughout the centuries, hair and hairiness appear as markers of social status, as well as objects of fantasies, from beardless statues to paintings of milky Venus, to virile representations of hairy warriors, or bold representations of Empress Sissi with her hair down.
The last rooms of the exhibition take us on a journey through the history of hairstyling, from vintage salons to crazy creations, from sculptures by Marisol Suarez to star hairstylist Charlie Le Mindu's hairy creations (currently on display at the nearby Samaritaine), to fashion creations made of hair (by Martin Margiela, Alexander McQueen, Josephus Thimister...). The exhibition restores hair's reputation as a true fashion accessory, sometimes appearing as a political statement.
Even today, hair appears as a profound symbol, notably in the current struggle of Iranian women who lift the veil or the impressive and committed work of artist Laetitia Ky, presented in the exhibition as keys to the history of hairiness.
© Katrin Backes and © Nick Norman
Des cheveux et des poils at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs from April 5 to September 17. Admission: 14€.
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