The Enlightenment was the Golden Age of hair. Hair dominated fashion as never before or since, with more men and women than ever donning elaborate wigs and hairdos. Such unprecedentedly extravagant styling naturally increased the demand for professional hairdressers, who in turn created a new range of hair-care products and a new literature of hair-care advice.
This volume offers a record of their marketing success, mindful that the ultimate product of this culture of consumption was the consumer. Literary and visual arts celebrated the ambitious coifs of the period, but they also lampooned the most fashionable in society. By exploring paintings, prints, plays, poems, novels, treatises, and advice manuals, the contributors to this volume show how hair in this period expanded beyond the fashionable and the superstitious, and became newly understood as material, inspiring empirical research and powering applications such as in the woollen goods industry.
The essays in this volume—covering religion and ritualized Belief, self and society, fashion and adornment, production and practice, health and hygiene, gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, class and social status, and cultural representations—explore hair’s many meanings and its importance during the Enlightenment period.