16 June 2021

Coiffure Legendaire: the Saddened Lord wig

Today at Estetica USA we discovered a real wig from a lord/judge dating back to 1750! It now rests on an enigmatic mannequin head made in Germany… the ‘Saddened Lord’!

Wigs were carried by the British judges for more than 300 years and never totally fell into disuse until not too long ago…This wig was made in France with horsehair with measures of 32 x 20 x 23 cm, while the mannequin head –made of wood– was designed by Müller Sebi more than a hundred years later (1860) in Germany. Both pieces are a fabulous set that rests in the Museum of History of Hairdressing of Raffel Pages in Barcelona, from an era in which wigs gave British judges that aspect between reverential and authoritarian as its hallmark for more than 300 years.

At the end of the 17th century, during the reign of Charles II, the use of wigs became commonplace among high society. Fashion came from the Court of King Louis XIV of France; in fact, ‘wig’ stands for ‘periwig’, which comes from the French ‘perruque’. When wigs were stopped during the reign of George III, the judges/lords continued taking them in the courts. The judges wore what became known as the ‘full bottomed wig’ – a wig that reached to mid back and now only used in certain ceremonial acts. From 1780, they adopted another type of shorter wig with a ponytail on the side of the neck. Since 2008 wigs were used in civil trials in England and Wales – average wigs then cost around $1,300 (the short) and $3,200 (model full bottomed wig).

The proposal to remove judges’ wigs came from the lord of Justice, Charles Phillips, in 2007. Phillips said that wigs perpetuated an image of the judges completely away from reality and wrapped in unnecessary tradition today. However, the judges of criminal cases advocated for its part continue wearing the wig, since they believe that these accesories –which continues with horsehair– serve to maintain the ‘dignity’ of the judgments and help them protect themselves when it comes to be recognized by defendants in pubs and shops.

More information: www.museumraffelpages.com

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