A car has been arranged. It’s en route to our cover shoot. But it’s not for an A-list actress, a super model, or even a Grammy winner; it’s for a wig. The cover star in question might have suddenly dyed her hair dark brown, but, for today at least, she’s going bleach blonde.
We’ll level with you - this isn’t the first time that a celebrity’s donned a wig for a swift 24 hour hair overhaul. They’re the A lister’s secret weapon (even Andy Warhol wore one) , the unspoken go-to for instantly transforming that bright orange pixie crop you got for an indie film role, into perfume campaign friendly glossy brunette locks. But, like the old ‘who me? Boob job? cover up, stars weren’t always so happy to admit they had a little help in the hair department.
And then, sometime, this year, wigs seriously came out of the closet.
Everyone from Rihanna and Zendaya, to Katy Perry and even Queen Bey (whose wig collection is reportedly worthy $1 million) unashamedly started rocking a faux ‘do. Take Rita Ora, who on one Tuesday In September had a bleach blonde pixie crop, and on the Wednesday? She’d miraculously acquired waist length Hollywood waves.
She knows we know, and guess what? She doesn’t care. And then there’s Kylie Jenner. Breaking Instagram one red boxer braid wig at a time, she’s even done a video tour of her wig wardrobe for goodness sake.
Adele’s so attached to her wigs she even names them, revealing on her house tour with US TV presenter Anderson Cooper, ‘This is June…this is Jackie’.
And whoever thought Ariana’s signature high pony was all her own, well let’s just say, we want whatever hair supplements she’s taking. As hair legend Sam McKnight says in his new book Hair by Sam McKnight, ‘Wigs are the new hats.’ So how did wigs shake off their stigma and get an A-list overhaul? For those still in shock that maybe even ‘Becky with the good hair’ bought it online, lets go back to the beginning. Time for a history lesson.
Like the other crucial pillars of civilized culture, it all began with the Egyptians. Chic, sleek and somewhat similar to Kim Kardashian’s LOB, Cleopatra’s crew made wigs look good. Fast forward to pre-revolution France where ‘bigwigs’ (literally people so rich they could afford ridiculously big wigs, who knew?) carried small silver mallets to scare away the mice that had group hangs in their elaborate coifs.
Why did wigs even exist at all? Syphilis, of course. Causing everyone’s hair to fall out, including King Louis XIV’s, a powdered wig covered all sins. STIs you’ve done it again. Across the pond, the Brits were at it too. Rocking a red wig to cover those pesky greys, Elizabeth I supposedly lopped off the Earl Of Essex’s head for sneaking a peek at her without it on.
Skip a few hundred years to the hippy 60s and women’s lib taking charge. ‘Fussy hairstyles became less accepted’ says Parsons School Of Design lecturer and beauty historian Rachel Weingarten, ‘Hair became longer and looser to reflect society’s changing beauty ideals and the anti-war Flower Power generation’ and lo, it was hair today, gone tomorrow. Literally.
Until now. ‘It’s like it happened overnight’, says Kylie’s go-to wig pro Tokyo Stylez, ‘At one point it was shameful to admit you had a wig on. Now ladies will take it off in front of you and swing it round like a new pair of shoes.’ Sassy. According to Weingarten it goes like this, ‘Once hair extensions became commonplace, women weren’t afraid to admit to wearing wigs and so a trend began.’
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No longer a subject of embarrassment, wigs were suddenly our new source of #beautyinspo. With almost 800,000 tagged posts on Instagram and 83,000 YouTube results for ‘kylie jenner wig’, it’s clear, for beauty obsessed centennials, wigs are kinda cool.
Forget the Tina Turner fancy dress shop affair - wigs have hit a whole new gen. ‘I got my first wig when I was sixteen, it was blue because I wanted to look like Katy Perry,’ says blogger and Insta star Lupe Sujey Cuevas who openly dons multi-coloured wigs and asks her followers to comment on their favourite look. ‘Wearing wigs gives me a chance to be someone other than myself and that feeling of being a different character makes me so happy.’
It’s all about the instant transformation. ‘Wigs are like a one night stand for your hair,’ says the man behind Alexa’s effortlessly cool ‘do George Northwood, ‘They’re perfect if you want to do something dramatic without the commitment.’ Why spend hours on a drastic hair dye when a wig can achieve the same look in minutes? And without the hair regret. Do the maths people.
How to work your own Insta-worthy wig? ‘Buying straight off the shelf is just no good,’ says hairdresser and pro wig fitter Carl Bembridge. ‘Get yourself some real hair (synthetic is a no go) from CrownCouture – it makes a gorgeous wig that’s super thick and swishy. Then take it to your hairdresser and get them to dye it to suit your skin tone.’ Think more high street, less Halloween.
Because these days it’s not about hiding your ‘enhancements’ and waiting for the inevitable exposé, it’s about taking ownership and wearing your wig loud and proud. It’s about changing your hair as often as you change your outfit.
Just because you can.
Would you work a wig? Maybe it's time to embrace your inner Kylie...