Artist creates Victorian mourning dress from hair extensions

WORN by Karin Jones
WORN by Karin Jones

An artist has created a Victorian mourning dress from braided artificial hair extensions for an installation at Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. The piece celebrates the start of Black History Month which runs through February and was created by Karin Jones.

Jones – a Vancouver resident – has also littered the scene with cotton balls that contain her own hair.

The original plan was to create a piece using real hair extensions, but when she discovered how much money the real hair was, she decided to use false hair extensions to practice braiding. It was then she realised that the false hair was specifically designed for braiding and so looked better on the dress.

In a recent interview with Vancouver Sun, she said: ““The synthetic stuff is a celebration of African hair styles. It seemed more like a symbol of pride in African heritage rather than this covering up using straight hair extensions.”

According to Karin Jones, it was the African female form – and the Victorian gentlemen’s obsession with it – that formed the basis of the bustle. She says that the Hottentot Venus (Sarah (Saartjie) Baartman) was brought to Britain and paraded as a marketing spectacle because she “had a big butt” and so Europeans were fascinated with her. Because of this, Victorian women wore clothing that drew attention to the derrière.

For more information on the exhibition, visit the Royal Ontario Museum website here: ROM Black History Month exhibition

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