Bust of a Flavian Woman (profile and back view, detail), late 1st century A.D., Roman. Marble. The J. Paul Getty Museum.

Styles and Status: Roman Women and the Art of Hair



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Classicist Kelly Olson discusses distinctive hairstyles that defined a woman's status and identity in ancient Rome. Looking at Roman portraiture and art, including examples from the Getty Villa's collection, Olson examines the intricate coiffures of the cultured upper-class and the simpler "natural" styles of the everyday woman. She explores how Roman women used hair dyes, wigs and hairpieces, and hair ornaments to create hairstyles that communicated social status, influence and power.


Kelly Olson holds a PhD from the University of Chicago, and is currently an associate professor in the department of classical studies at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. Her research focuses on Roman society, sexuality, and appearance, as well as fashion history more generally. She is the author of Dress and the Roman Woman: Self-Presentation and Society and Masculinity and Dress in Roman Antiquity.

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