The Ancient Egyptians had a fixation with personalhygiene and believed that having body hair was unhygienic. All men, woman andchildren shaved their heads bald. This was also considered necessary due toEgypt’s climate. They wore detailed wigs which were made out of natural humanhair that was then fixed onto a net and these wigs were designed specially tokeep their heads cool.
Although a shaved head was a sign of nobility, themajority of the Egyptians kept their heads covered. Both men and woman woreprominent eye makeup and a bright distinct rouge. The rouge was used to staintheir lips and cheeks. In Ancient Egypt, eye makeup had a long history and bothmen and women were using eye makeup from as early as 4000BC. They would use akohl black on their eyelids, eyelashes and eyebrows. They would also usedifference colours of greens and blues on their eyelids. The eye makeup wasmade up from Kohl which was obtained from galena. Galena is a blue/grey mineralthat is formed of sulphide.
Galena deposits were found in the Eastern Dessert.The green colouring of the eye makeup was achieved by the use greenpigment called malachite. Malachite is a carbonate mineral.
Thepowders used to create the eye makeup were mixed with water to form a paste.The rouge make-ups where sourced from a variety of pigments, Red ochre whichwas made from naturally tinted clay- hydrated iron oxide. Beads on the ends oftheir wigs were an accessory used by the Egyptians during those times. The baseof the Egyptian wig was a fibre-netting skullcap, with strands of human hair,wool, flax palm fibres attached. They used a styling gel on both the long andshort hair. They tried to curl their hair with tongs and even plaited it tolengthen the hair.
The wigs that the Egyptians wore were made up of human hairwhich often supplemented by plant fibre or from the wool from a sheep. For 3000years, all the clothes worn by Egyptians were linen made flax gowns. The fabricsuited the hot climate because it was cooling. Clothes were very simple inshape with minimal cutting of cloth. Men wore schenti cloth wrapped around thehips which hung with folds in the front. Woman wore a kalasiris, a sheath likedress, often with detachable sleeves.
The silhouette was influenced by two keyfactors: the fineness and the finish of the linen and by wearing decorativecollars and belts. These accessories were rich in colour and texture. ManyEgyptians would go barefoot and some would would wear leather sandals on theirfeet and coordinating anklets. The most popular material used was linen. Thiswas easily sourced and could be altered in many ways. Footwear was made fromvegetable materials also papyrus was also occasionally used. Egyptians used asmuch of the natural resources from their area as they could. Early on theydiscovered the strength of flax plant for making linen cloth.
Cotton was alsoused and was imported from India. Footwear was sourced from the surroundingareas and the materials came from things like palm leaf, flax plant and grass.Egyptions and their trade partners sailed the Nile River to trade their goodswith Africa, Afghanistan, Punt and Nubia. They traded gold, papyrus, linen andgrain and received ivory, copper, iron, oils and ebony. The Egyptian QueenNefertiti, whose name translates “a beautiful woman has come”, is famed for herpolitical influence and great beauty. Nefertiti’s clothing trademarks includedistinctive tall, straight-sided and dark topped crown worn exclusively by her.More than 3,500 years have passed and Queen Nefertiti and ancient Egyptcontinues to inspire today’s designers.
“Egyptomania” gripped fashion design ofthe Art Deco era, from scarab jewellery to flowing, draped dresses, exoticembroidery, pyramid and lotus-flower motifs, There was even a mummy wrap dressin the 1920s, an idea interpreted afresh in the skin tight bandage dresses ofthe 2000s. Jewellery was worn head to toe by wealthy men and woman. Even theirpets wore colourful pieces. They featured pieces from the natural world includinggreen palm leaves, white lotus flowers and yellow mandrake fruits. Thesemi-precious stones included green and red jasper, amethyst, turquoise andquartz.
Glass and glazed composite were used to imitate the precious stones.Upper-class men and women considered wigs as an essential part of theirwardrobe. The quality of linen this would show how rich the person was. Wearinga wig signalled a person’s rank in society, this was to also differentiate therich from the poor.