Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years – Richard Corson

9780720610932

In his preface, Richard Corson writes, “My original intention was to make this a book of illustrations of hair styles, to be used as a practical guide in producing historical plays… but the fascinating information that kept turning up during the course of research proved irresistible, and the book has grown.” He wasn’t kidding. At 736 pages, the book presents a massive amount of information, starting with the ancient Egyptians who favoured “large and well ventilated” wigs that often indicated rank. The simple illustrations depict common styles and those worn by prominent figures throughout history, like Julius Caesar, William Lyon Mackenzie, Ethel Barrymore, and Annie Lennox (in what other context would these names appear in the same sentence?). Since the book was originally published in 1965, the information for 1965–2000 is supplemental, but equally interesting. The illustrations include the hair style that resulted in an Ohio student’s expulsion from school, and subsequent court case testing the right of a U.S. citizen to wear long hair—in 1966. Although at $110 the book may be a little pricey for the average reader, it is indeed fascinating and well worth the money if you are a history or hairstyle buff or looking to push the limits of retro!

Rating: ★★★★☆
-Michelle McChristie