Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a Member »

Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.

The V&A Museum’s new Design a Wig tool (all screen shots by the author)

More so than the mulleted glam rockers of the 1980s or the beehive-wearing divas of the ’60s, 18th-century Europeans were the queens of Big Hair. It’s rare that a contemporary hairdresser gets to create something as elaborate as the sky-high sculptural wigs worn by Marie Antoinette and friends.

But now, with the Victoria & Albert Museum’s fantastic new “Design a Wig” game, we can all create masterpieces of 18th-century hair art. Instead of playing post-holiday email catchup, we recommend spending hours virtually creating Marie Antoinette–style hairdos.

The virtual wig design tool, inspired by the V&A’s extensive decorative arts collection, starts with an illustrated model with a short blond hairdo that resembles Donald Trump’s combover on a windy day. When you drag your mouse-comb over her head, clouds of poofy blond curls appear. After powdering and decorating your wig with bows, blossoms, feathers, sailboats, sail, flags, etc., you can show off your creation on social media, as Marie Antoinette surely would have were she alive today.

Powdering the wig

Obviously, it’s a lot easier making these wigs online than it was in real life 250 years ago. As the V&A’s site explains, hair was built up into wild confections with padding and hairpieces made from both human and horse manes, all stuck together with gooey paste made from pig fat. These unsightly parts were concealed by variously colored scented powders made from flour, which were blown on with bellows or applied with big puffs. As protection from powder clouds, the woman wore a big cone over her face. Women often spent all day with their hairdressers creating these ridiculous styles.

As evidenced below, I’ve had an extremely productive day designing extremely beautiful wigs.

Our Rorschach test–inspired wig design

Princess Leia’s cinnamon bun hairdo, Marie Antoinette-style

Go design a wig here.

The Latest

An Anarchist Illustrator Looks to Radical Histories to Fight Fascism

Anarchist illustrator N.O. Bonzo produces decentralized media in a highly bureaucratic cultural landscape. Their illustrations, murals, and literature emerge in unexpected places, from the streets of Portland, Oregon, to the far ends of Reddit and Twitter, addressing relations of labor and identity in the workplace and on the streets. Growth and care are central themes…

Carey Dunne

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering arts and culture. Her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Baffler, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.