Fake Hair

Once upon a time, fake hair looked real. This period did not last long. Around the turn of the century—I’m talking 1990s here, not 1890s—hairdressers had begun to deploy those now-ubiquitous fake hair extensions, but they always worked with a certain amount of subtlety and restraint. Realness was paramount. Wigginess was verboten. Women relied on extensions—strips of hair that often originate on the scalp of a cash-strapped lady in a developing country—to subtly augment their ‘dos. These delicate rafts of hair, in shades matching the woman’s own, were cunningly glued to either side of the head, enhancing the existing follicle count. A light bouncy ’70s tressiness was the goal. Think Charlie!, as in the perfume hawked by Shelley Hack.

Cut to now. Women are boldly sporting more mega-tons of fake hair than Lady Bunny. Instead of Charlie!, it’s more about Charles II. That’s right, I’m getting historical on your asses, because today’s shoulder length mega-tresses have only one precedent: the man-wigs of 17th-century Europe. Instead of trying to look merely healthy—just naturally lustrous—women now strive to look as much as possible like a bewigged aristo of yore. Every gal is coiffed with the powerful pompous abundance of the Sun King. Grab your periwigs, girls, because the Duke of Marlborough is totally back!

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