Animal fiber is nothing new to fashion- from mink coats to lambswool sweaters. And while fur can be shocking due to its controversial standing, as a material, it isn’t exactly groundbreaking. In a contemporary fashion scene where we’ve managed to spin thread from mammals, bugs and wood, what is the next step? Is it possible to push the hunt for new materials further? The answer of course, is “always”. WGSN recently pointed out a very unlikely trend that has begun to emerge: the use of human hair!
Love it or hate it, it can’t be denied that the concept of using hair in fashion definitely makes us consider our comfort level with animal products, as well as ourselves. A dress made of silk (that comes from a tiny, wriggling worm!) is considered luxurious. Yet most people would cringe at the thought of a hair-dress, despite its familiarity and the fact that collecting it does not harm anyone. It is this mentality that inspires the work of accessory designer Kerry Howley.
Howley’s collection, Attraction/Aversion is an experiment in psychology. She has crafted stunningly elegant necklaces from human hair. Howley meditates on the idea that while on our heads, hair is a precious possession, something we “take pride in.” Yet once it is cut off, we gain an aversion to it.
The collection gives a new life and beauty to hair that has been disposed of; each piece takes on the appearance of delicate lace. The perfect symmetry within the patterns establishes familiarity, returning the wearer to the close relationship we feel with any part of our bodies. In the end, the material has been completely transformed from being perceived as waste to its former, more elevated status as a gorgeous accessory to complete a look.
Howley is available for commissions, and can do more than just jewelry! For more information or to contact the designer, visit www.kerryhowley.co.uk.