Superstar Cher created a revival of wigs a few years ago when she sashayed across the television screens of the nation, changing wigs and costumes at least six times during an hour-long show to portray everything from a nubile young girl to a New Orleans vamp.
With each change, she showed us how one woman can be anything and everything. The lesson wasn’t lost. While most men in the audience were getting her message, so were a lot of women. Wig sales picked up and at department stores around the country, more and more young women were purchasing new heads of hair to match a Saturday night disco dress or gray flannel business suit. There has always been a market for wigs, but most of that market has been confined to older women to cover their gray or thinning hair.
Wigs have often been thought of as unnatural and, yes, tacky, because the wigs most people noticed were of the cheap and poorly designed variety. That has changed and the wig collection of designer Andre Douglas is seen as a welcome addition to the fashion world.
“Wigs are no longer used to cover up hair, but are important accessories to complement that personal look. People are dressing up and getting elaborate again,” Douglas told ROUTES. “And the wigs are doing things the hair won’t do. My wigs are designed not to cover up the hair, but to provide fashion regardless of styles.”
Douglas, who has been named one of the Outstanding Young Men of America in the 80s, has just introduced his new wig collection of ten natural styles, including Fantasy, a totally unique and revolutionary hair look and concept designed especially for black women, which is attracting customers of many nationalities and hair textures.
“I always think of wigs as a fashion accessory,” he noted, setting himself apart from those wig designers who create mops to be worn every day. “It takes too much time to prepare the hair in an elaborate style,” he continued. “That’s why my wigs provide a supplement. Nobody has a lot of time and money to go to the beauty parlor every time they want to go out.”
Fantasy, Douglas said, took him several months to design since he had to develop a special curl and style that would be universally flattering.
Laverne Powlis, author of The Black Woman’s Beauty Book, considered no wardrobe complete without a good quality wig. She called it an accessory that’s versatile, fun, and carefree that allows women to change their look whenever they want to.
Women who share Powlis’s outlook find them ideal for vacations, when time is at a premium, and indispensable during the summer when dinner can be scheduled for a short hour after a wet and sandy day at the beach.
“At one time, wigs were a fad, especially the synthetic ones,” Douglas reminded. Then women began using them because they were fashionable, not just a novelty. Now wigs have become a novelty for men.
Douglas said he sells a lot of wigs to men, like his dreadlocked Rasta wig. The Rasta look gained popularity recently and Douglas’s wig was a welcome item on the beauty shelf because, as he put it, “the wig doesn’t look untidy and it is pretty since the Rastafarian style is not considered attractive to those who don’t understand the meaning.”
Douglas went on to explain that most of the men who buy his wigs are show people, people in theatre, but many guys who go to discos are buying them because they want to look different.
“Previously,” Douglas remarked, “men wore wigs or rugs as they were called when Howard Cosell wore them, when they had no hair of their own. But now,” he said, “the wig for men is a fun thing.”
Douglas, who has designed wigs for many Broadway musicals, including Ain’t Misbehavin’, Bubbling Brown Sugar, and Eubie, has also designed special styles for such stars as Patti LaBelle, Shirley Bassey, Cissy Houston and Chaka Kahn. His new wig collection meets all the criteria for a super wig.
They’re lightweight, only one-and-a half to two-and-a-half ounces, and have a special elastic side adjustment that leaves absolutely no bump or ridge. They are made of a material that looks and feels like luxurious, pampered natural hair. All of the wigs come in fifteen fashion shades and cost between $30 and $40. They’re available at fine stores everywhere.