High Tops

Big hair of the ’80’s. Hair bands. Pompadours. Rapunzel. Marge Simpson. No matter how you spin it, hair is weighty with cultural and social significance. They’ve always been an indicator of power; the more of it you have, the more powerful you are. Why do you think male lions sport that gigantic mane of theirs? Or that Fabio gets all the ladies?

This season, runways are embracing powerful women in the workplace, the military and in sports. And although it hasn’t been spoken of in this way, hair is another catalyst for discussions on power. Back in the Queen Elizabethan days, big hair and giant hoop skirts were symbolic of immense wealth and high status. If you could afford to pay for huge amounts of luxurious fabrics, then for damn sure you had money! It’s not much different from those who like to flaunt their wealth (or make it seem like they are wealthy) with imports and designer jeans.

I looked to Studio Marisol for examples of big hair. You’re more likely to see these hairstyles on the runway than on regular people, but frankly, they’re way more fun to look at.

Okay, this chick’s hair isn’t big at all, but the dread-like braids give the romantic look a Rastafarian vibe.

With Fall collections struttin’ down the catwalk, it’s apparent that fur is comin’ back in a big way. A collab between Studio Marisol and CuldeSac introduce the idea of using real human hair as a raw material for socially conscious purposes. 

“Hair is a woman’s most powerful accessory.” – Frederic Fekkai

My cousin and I had a riveting conversation via google chat the other day about hair woes. I come from a family of long-haired divas, a common aesthetic amongst Asian/Pacific Islanders, and cutting our hair is a big deal. B had cut hers chin-length in January and is still waiting for it to grow out to a comfortable length. Although I’ve gotten more adventurous with my hair, I’m style wary of letting it get anywhere near scissors.

Truth be told, long hair does have it’s drawbacks, especially in this growing-out phase where the layers are less visible and it just looks and feels heavy. I usually end up pinning it back into a loose chignon twist with strands of hair framing my face quite nicely and nothing weighing on my shoulders (literally and figuratively).

In other words, I often dream about having short hair.

But how hard is it to literally cut yourself off from all that power? As a long-haired vet, it’s very hard. Perhaps the fantasy is also triggered by my current mood: heavy, weighed down, stuck. Whereas long hair implies the burden of power, short hair can mean freedom. However, I’m willing to compromise. Inspired by one of my favorite style bloggers and Vogue’s recent photoshoot with Amber Valletta, I’ve made the conscious decision to purchase a short-haired wig.

Hair does have transformative power. Even without the sets and the costumes, Amber would look like totally different people just based on her hair alone. For me, the power to transform is what makes fashion so alluring. We are in hard times which makes it difficult to escape realities of the day-to-day grind. My only way out is through my appearance. If I can just feel like someone else, or influence changes in my mood through the clothes I wear, then let’s hear it for playing dress-up! Hurrah!


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