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Explore the Constellation

Tignon Laws


Creative expression through fashion allowed Black people to define their own identities. Some of these stylistic expressions challenged notions of social control and ran afoul of authorities. In 1786, the governor of New Orleans passed a law designed to stifle self-expression by forcing Black women to wear their hair in a wrap called a tignon. In response, Black women adopted beautiful scarves tied in complicated manners, beginning a distinctive fashion trend that became popular across the globe.