I recently opened my online shop, The MCB Shop (*crowd roars*), and I’m very proud of it- naturally. The shop features vintage accoutrements, homeware accessories, and lifestyle must-haves. In designing spaces, I am inspired by an artist’s work. My interior designing and styling process always leads with the art and the client’s needs. The same approach applies when I am I designing for the lifestyle. In The MCB Shop, one of the designs you’ll find is my turban. I am ABSOLUTELY in love with this for several reasons. A) It’s lined in satin and protects the hair from breakage, B) it’s comfortable and stylish while requiring no tying or twisting and C) it has significant cultural and historical importance for me. The turban was influenced by the tignon, a type of headscarf, a large piece of material tied or wrapped around the head to form a kind of turban that somewhat resembles the West African gélé. It was worn by Creole women in Louisiana beginning in the Spanish colonial period.
This headdress was the result of sumptuary laws passed in 1785 under the administration of Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró. Called the tignon laws, they prescribed and enforced appropriate public dress for female gens de couleur in colonial society. At this time in Louisiana history, women of color vied with white women in beauty, dress and manners. Many of them had become the placées (openly kept mistresses) of white, French, and Spanish Creole men. This incurred the jealousy and anger of their wives, mothers, sisters, daughters and fiancées. One complaint was that white men pursuing flirtations or liaisons sometimes mistook upper-class white women for light-skinned mixed-race women and accosted them in an improper manner.
To prevent this, Governor Miró decreed that women of color and black women, slave or free, should cover their hair and heads with a knotted headdress and refrain from “excessive attention to dress” to maintain class distinctions. But the women who were targets of this decree were inventive and imaginative. They decorated tignons with their jewels and ribbons, and used the finest available materials to wrap their hair. In doing this, they effectively demolished the degrading nature the tignon laws were intended to inflict.
There are many paintings and artwork depicting Creole women of color and West African women in tignons, but two of my favorites that provided stimulus for my turban designs are Dimitri Fouquet’s Marie LaVeau and Jacques Amans’ Creole in a Red Turban as shown above.
Visit The MCB Shop to order your very own tignon.