I have always found orthodontic headgear somewhat sinister, so when I first stumbled upon the cover A Magazine Curated by Iris van Herpen, featuring Hanne Gaby Odiele sporting a golden dental cheek retractor, I was immediately intrigued. The piece was created by menswear designer Lucie Vincini, who found inspiration from everything from modern orthodontic device to grills to the lip discs worn by Mursi women.
The way in which the piece positioned its wearer’s face, seemingly restricting speech or movement, the implied pain and unnatural grimace it forced its wearer’s face into, allowing a view of each tooth, struck me most strongly. The stark visual contrast between flesh and metal, the discomfort, reminded me most immediately of older, barbaric medical procedures, of the body being twisted and contorted. (And in searching for images, both editorial and historical, of retainers, retractors, and braces of all sorts, I was also reminded of the fetishistic implications of restriction…) Here is a small collection of images, loosely inspired by headgear, dentistry, and the notion of morphing and restricting the face, that I compiled along the way.
1. A Magazine No.217 cover
2. Dental model illustrating nerves
3. Dental model illustrating skull with baby teeth before adult teeth grow in
4. Editorial by photographer Marvin Grech, featuring mask by Furne One
5. Inspiration for gold cheek retractor, via Lucie Vincini’s website
6. Vintage dentistry photograph
7. Headpiece by Maiko Takeda
8. Pornographic photo via tumblr
9. Model, suposedly demonstrating Ancient Egyptian dental practice
10. Vincini editorial shot