The Hair Makes The Man
Hair culture has had its fair share of immortalizing: What would a picture of the early-eighties punk scene be without a snap of the colored Mohawks lining the streets of the East Village? Or the stringy bed head of the grunge heroes of the nineties? Add to that the endless reporting of runway trends and the touting of the latest treatments and products, and of-the-moment manes are a topic of constant conversation. Illustrator Silvia Prada is joining the discussion with her exhibit The New Modern Hair, opening at the Pacific Design Center tonight in L.A. Based on her book, The New Modern Hair: A Styling Chart, Prada, along with curator Joakim Andreasson, delves into the way that hair—specifically, men’s hair—and its social cues have shaped the male persona and, in turn, pop culture over time. “Hair has had such an impact on style and culture that it deserves its own body of work,” the artist says of the exhibit—which includes portraits that pay homage to vintage barbershop images, and are juxtaposed with geometric compositions, pop artifacts, and Prada’s signature black-and-white illustrations for context.
Heavily influenced by the time she spent in her father’s barbershop while growing up in León, Spain, Prada’s attraction to the production of the male identity took shape at a young age. “I started to pay attention to the subtle stylistic changes that would completely change the confidence and the allure of a man,” she says of the transformations she witnessed; from Prada’s assessment, male styling can be just as telling as its female counterpart. “Hair doesn’t necessarily define the man, but like any visual aspects of identity, it communicates lifestyle, demographic aspects, and aspirations”—not to mention brand loyalty. Those tousled, cropped mops at Louis Vuitton’s men’s show today just wouldn’t have worked on the Mugler runway, which favored superslick, brushed-back coifs, and vice versa.
The New Modern Hair runs from January 18 to February 26 at the Pacific Design Center, Blue Building, Second Floor, B255, 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA.