Hairstyle Appreciation Day: Celebrate it at Leila's Hair Museum

Celebrate Hairstyle Appreciation Day. Mrs. Donald Cohoon;Leila Cohoon of Leila's Hair Museum
Getty Images/Time & Life Pictures
As you celebrate Hairstyle Appreciation Day today (you are observing it, right?) keep this fact in mind: at the end of every hair cut in salons, beauty parlors and barbershops around the world, potentially great works of art are swept away in the trash.

That's the way Leila Cahoon sees it anyway. A semi-retired cosmetologist in Independence, Missouri, Cahoon is also the owner and namesake of Leila's Hair Museum. Her collection of more than 2,000 objects woven from human hair is considered the largest collection of its kind in the world. (She also has some things made of horse hair, but that's a whole 'nother conversation.)

Hair art became popular and fashionable during the Victorian period when Queen Victoria, mourning the death of Prince Albert, wore a bracelet made of his hair. Following their queen's lead, women began making earrings, watch fobs and brooches from their own hair or from that of their loved ones. Hair collection jars, also on display at the museum, were common on proper ladies' dressing tables.

A number of the exhibits at Leila's Hair Museum are mourning wreaths made from hair of the deceased, including children.

Yep, it is indeed kind of creepy and kind of sad if you love a bald person.

But other weavings are celebratory -- wreaths made from the hair of everyone who attended the wedding celebration of one couple.

Leila's museum has a section of famous hair, from Marilyn Monroe to Abraham Lincoln to John Lennon and Michael Jackson. Leila also says she has hair from Mary, Mother of Jesus, but many visitors find the provenance of that exhibit just a bit sketchy.

Leila is in the process of writing a book and teaches classes about the nearly lost art of hair weaving. Her little museum is also the U.S. headquarters for the Victorian Hairwork Society. The Society's annual gathering is celebrated with a formal Hair Ball.

So before your stylist sweeps your freshly sheared locks into the trash bin, sweep them up in a baggy and go home and create a great piece of art for the one you love. They may, or may not, thank you for it.

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