Musée des Arts Décoratifs’ newest exhibition explores our relationship with our hairy bits

Step into the fascinating world of hair at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs’ newest exhibition, running from 5 April to 17 September 2023.

Named ‘Des Cheveux et Des Poils’, the showcase explores the intricate relationship between human hair, fashion, and self-expression. Just like clothing, jewelry, and accessories, hair has played a pivotal role in constructing appearances for centuries, blurring the lines between fashion and body representation.

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It has been associated with various meanings, from the devilish to the animalistic. Throughout history, both unkempt and excessive hair were often deemed unruly, requiring meticulous taming and concealment to conform to societal norms.

This shows that hair is more than just a bodily material; it’s a canvas for transformation. It can be stretched, cut, colored, adorned, hidden, or displayed, serving as a vital element in reflecting one’s fashion sense, beliefs, and even defiance.

The history of hairdressing — from the Middle Ages to the modern era — encompasses a multitude of themes, each revealing the social and cultural codes of their time. Famous hairstyles like Fontanges, Titus, boyish cuts, Iroquois styles, and more, have captured the imagination of contemporaries and become iconic fashion phenomena.

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This exhibition delves into various aspects of hair, from combed and adorned hair to wigs, hairpieces, and baldness, as well as the art of coloring. It also explores the social expectations around facial hair, from clean-shaven faces to beards, mustaches, and eyebrows, and body hair in all the hidden bits as well as the practice of hair removal — showcasing perhaps that the human body will always be subject to politics. 107, rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris.

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Top image: Musée des Arts Décoratif

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