The History of Wigs
In ancient Egypt wigs were worn by men and women on top of their natural hair. As hygiene became a consideration it was quite normal to shave the entire head and wear a wig! Many of these first styles were the immaculate wedge shapes recreated so well in the film, 'Cleopatra'. Later, vertical rows of separate curls also became popular.
Over the centuries the wearing of wigs has fluctuated in popularity.
It was reported that Elizabeth I had more than 80 wigs. In the late sixteenth century the wig became a symbol of power and professionals - lawyers, doctors, judges and clergymen - wore them as a symbol of their status.
Wigs reached their most extravagant during the late seventeenth century with musical boxes, ornaments and even singing birds intertwined with the hair.
The French Revolution saw the decline of the wig and the change to more natural hair. By 1800 it was estimated that only one hundred and fifty thousand wig-wearers were left in Britain .
The Incorporated Guild of Hairdressers, Wigmakers and Perfumiers was founded in 1882 to meet and promote the improvement of the social position and general welfare of its members.
Hairpieces or 'postiches' made a dramatic comeback in the 1960s. The advent of artificial fibres made it possible to mass produce wigs and pieces so that every woman could change her hairstyle in minutes. Sadly for the wigmakers, the meteoric rise in their trade was halted by Vidal Sassoon's cut and blow-dry.
Nowadays wigs and hairpieces are generally used to create exotic evening and fantasy designs to show off the hairdressers' skills, rather than worn by the general public. Wigs are still used extensively in TV commercials and films to help create character parts.