Fashion has always been a highly subjective industry. Trends that are deemed ludicrous at first become common only two years later—take skinny jeans, for instance, or closing the top button of your shirt. Alix Bizet, a French student graduating at the Design Academy Eindhoven in The Netherlands, designs clothes made of human hair. The question is whether her fashions are a soon-to-be-accepted phenomenon or a bridge too far. One thing's for sure: her Chewbacca-like attire is striking to say the least.
Hair Matters is a graduation project, in which she collected and examined human hair from African American hairdressers to create jackets and hats. Why? Because it’s a sustainable solution, an animal-friendly alternative to fur, and an embracement of our cultural an ethnic differences. The Creators Project called Bizet to ask how her furry collection is coming along:
The Creators Project: Why human hair?
Alix Bizet: Because it’s controversial. The fact that you’re asking me this question right now indicates that, in general, people find it a little weird and perhaps even a bit gross to wear human hair. I want eliminate that taboo, because we forget it's so easy to collect human hair. I’m not saying you need to salvage every hair from the shower or bathroom sink, but just think of all the hair we waste after we’ve been to the hairdresser, or the amount you suck up from the bedroom with the vacuum cleaner.
You don’t think it’s a bit crude to wear other people’s hair?
Our aversion to hair, and especially hair that isn’t standard, says a lot about our society. If you buy a tube of shampoo, it is always based on the Western hair type. You rarely see a woman with an afro in a L'Oreal commercial. The media bombard us with the "normal" straight hair type. All other hair types are often referred to as 'special.' I want my project to be a first step in embracing diversity. If we can learn to love out-of-the-ordinary hair types, then our acceptance of other external characteristics will soon follow. Consider my project a weapon against racism.
What type of hair are the coats made of?
Frizzy hair. Eventually I want to design clothes with every hair type, but I started collecting frizzy hair from afro-salons. I soon came to realize that afro-hairdressers are fairly scarce in Eindhoven. So I had to use most of my own hair for the first prototype.
To produce the garments I first separate the hair. All tangles have to be combed out. Then I examine the structure and color of the hair. For instance, gray hair [requires] a different weaving method, because it’s very vulnerable. During the weaving process, I got some help from a professional tailor. He helped me develop a special weaving technique I could use during my graduation at the Design Academy.
What’s your opinion on wearing fur?
I’m not against wearing fur, but I am against slaughtering animals solely for their fur, and unfortunately that is the most common way we obtain fur. Human hair is a perfect alternative. Two meters of hair-textile costs about hundred euros. A lot cheaper than ‘real’ fur, I can tell you.
Do you think people are actually going to wear your clothes?
Who knows, the hair caps are very popular with my fellow students. Before I consider designing other garments I want to examine every type of hair there is. The jackets also need some more work, so don’t expect them to appear on the cat-walk just yet. But, of course, that would be dream. In the near future I hope to work together with a renowned fashion designer who is willing to showcase my clothes at Fashion Week. But at this point, I am very happy that I’ve mastered the special weaving technique that’ll allow me to put human hair on the fashion radar. Just imagine that men will be able to buy a suit made from their own chest hair.
You can view more of Alix Bizet’s work on her website.
A version of this article originally appeared on The Creators Project Netherlands.