Hairstyles are an important part of the ever changing fashion silhouette, so we added wigs to all the mannequins in the Fashion Timeline exhibit.
White paper was used to construct the wigs so they would complete the period look while not distracting from the garment on display. Each wig began as a coil of twisted white paper. Once untwisted it was flexible yet maintained its manipulated form and the linear texture mimicked flowing tresses.
The paper was cut into strips and curled around pencils, wooden dowels, knitting needles, anything that provided the correct width. It was then fixed to a wig cap with hot glue.
The caps were made with Fosshape, a synthetic felt that can be cut, sewn, and shaped into a fairly rigid form with heat. Building wigs on caps requires a bit more work than simply taping the paper curls directly to the mannequin, but it allows the wigs to easily be removed and reused without damaging the mannequin or the wig. Before making the wigs we gathered research. This included images from period fashion plates, portraits, and advertisements.
Each style presented it’s own set of challenges. Some were built up by gluing curl upon curl, others were layered then styled and trimmed the same way an actual haircut would be.
The wigs had to capture the essence of each era and also add visual impact.
The paper hairdos have been generating lots of comments. Do you have a favorite?
Joanne Arnett Curatorial Assistant