[Ed. note: Vintage Vixen is a new addition to the content family. In this section, you will find articles from Vixen’s print days that are trendsetting and still the definition of sexy.]
Stacks? So passe. Finger wave? Not so much. And don’t even mention the Jheri curl. The ‘80s left a host of dated hairstyles in its wake, yet somehow, the weave endured, despite the “horse tail” jokes, men who desired the real thing, and academics who suggested it was a sign of wanting to be white. Weaves survived to become a multi-billion-dollar business around the globe. Modern weaves originated when one creative Ohio housewife, Christina Jenkins, invented and then patented an alternative to wigs in 1950. Throughout the 1960’s these bulky hair pieces were generally worn by chemotherapy patients and people with alopecia, a skin disease that causes hair loss. But by the 80’s, weaves beat out the once booming wig industry as the leading hair embellish-er. Today, large numbers of black women wear some kind of extensions, with some boldly changing looks the way others switch handbags. Weaves have a history as strong as the techniques used to put them in- whether sewn, braided, bonded, or glued. Lets take a look back on some weave trends throughout the years. —Ayana Byrd (VIBE Vixen, Spring 2005)
Big AND BAD: The 80’s
In the decade that ushered in the Gumby, asymmetric cuts, and hair bands, big bold weaves were a natural fit. For ladies who wanted to conjure a little Vanity 6, weaves provided what genetics may have denied them. Two bundles of hair and the right-technician and any look became possible. These weaves were teased and voluminous, often with an S-Curl wave. Back then you always knew when a woman had a weave. It was impossible to find a black woman in Hollywood without one. Janet traded her innocent press and curl Different Strokes look for “Miss Jackson if you’re nasty” weave. She was joined by legions, including Robin Givens, Lisa Bonet (whose hair seemed like it was a different length in almost every episode of A Different World) and Tisha Campbell and her crew of “wannabes” in School Daze. And with waist length tresses on supermodels like Iman and Naomi Campbell, the pages of magazines were soon filled with weaves, too.
Let’s Chill: The ’90’s
As the last decade of the millennium rolled in, the volume of big hair was turned down a few notches. Away went the industrial strength mousse and sprays, and stacks died a quiet death. Even Patti LaBelle clipped her follicular wings. yet in the face of Halle Berry and Toni Braxton- style short cuts, the weave showed its staying power. Straighter, sleeker looks took over where big hair left off. By the end of the decade, more than 1.3 million pounds of human hair were imported into the U.S. annually. Ironically just when it seemed almost believable that women could have grown the hair they were swinging, people to started come out the closet. With women like Tyra Banks and Toni Braxton professing about their weaves women overcame the fear of knowing someone knew about their hair.
A MultiCulti Hair Odyssey: The ’00’s
Schools, housing, and radio may still be segregated, but as we move farther into the new century, the hair weave industry is living Dr. King’s dream. Whether it was teens in the suburbs who wanted a little more bounce in their bobs or Britney Spears onstage with an extra bundle of blond, white women have literally attached themselves to the style like never before. As this rainbow coalition of the willing keeps the technique alive, black women have started to look beyond the lengthy, straight styles that have long been weave favorite. Once the hoopla from Erykah Badu’s dreadlock extensions died down, women in Harlem, Oakland, London, and Paris began experimenting with weaves of kinky hair.
Who knows what the future of weave may hold but if you believe it than you can weave it!