Strong as a horse

Conditioned ‘virgin’ hair used for violin bows helps make beautiful music


1:46 am | Friday, November 29th, 2013

THE WOMEN of Unilever Philippines’ personal care, VP Gina Lorenzana and head
of PR Apples Aberin

It was a night that wowed the audience, when the country first heard how the strands of women’s hair could make such sweet music. Shortly after, the world took notice.

While the idea of outfitting a violin bow with human hair is not entirely new, Unilever’s Cream Silk team pushed the limits by making the ensemble play a 40-minute concert to a live audience. For one night, the 10-women string ensemble became a part of the 42-piece ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra led by Maestro Gerard Salonga.

The point of the exercise was to demonstrate the power of strong hair and to deliver the message that, yes, its new variant, Cream Silk Hair Fall Defense, does work. The extra long strands of “virgin” human hair—called such because they have never been treated—were harvested from hundreds of women all over Asia.

Singapore-based archetier Paul Goh was the one who fashioned them into violin bows following the finest French tradition of bowmaking. Except for this batch, the  renowned bowmaker did something he has never done in his career—he conditioned and strengthened the hair with Cream Silk Hair Fall Defense.

A hank of horse hair is normally fitted into violin bows. The strong and coarse strands withstand the constant friction needed to make music. To put the fragile human hair in its place seemed ridiculous at first, said Unilever Philippines’ VP for personal care Gina Lorenzana.

ARCHETIER Paul Goh working on strands of human hair

“But that’s how creative ideas are. Creativity is looking at two very unconnected things and creating magic by combining them. Beauty is now epitomized in terms of strength. [Through the Cream Silk Hair Sonata] we see how strength can actually be demonstrated in a beautiful way.

“Usually demonstrations are unsexy. This is the first time we have been able to make it beautiful and inspiring. I’m proud the idea came from the Philippines. Great ideas, if you can bring them to life, become powerful,” Lorenzana said.

The string quartet of Cream Silk Hair Sonata is currently touring the metropolis, including Cebu and Davao. A sample of the violin bow will be on display for people to see and touch. Lorenzana said it is important for people to witness and listen to the music in person.

THE STRING quartet of Cream Silk Hair Sonata

According to Apples Aberin, Unilever Philippines’ head PR for personal care, the human hair violin bows far exceeded their expectations. She said she had ordered extra bows—as backups in case the current ones didn’t hold up—but was pleasantly surprised when the concert concluded without a glitch.

“The whole idea became enjoyable to everyone while delivering a message at the same time. You hit all birds with one stone. The brand team of Cream Silk was fantastic,” Aberin said.

The Cream Silk Hair Sonata is the first to use human hair in Asia and the world’s first human hair symphony, she said. Their pitch is a little higher than the regular bow so Salonga had to make some adjustments to make the music cohesive. Since the concert was conducted at the NBC Tent at the Fort, the Unilever team had to cover the venue in cloth and install black carpets to create sound absorption similar to that of a concert hall.

“We had to take all these things into consideration because Gerard (Salonga) is very particular about standards,” Aberin said.

Prior to the actual concert, the bows first underwent 240 hours of play. Since human hair is smoother than that of a horse’s, there was less traction—another challenge for the violinists

THE HUMANhair goes through the “torture” test

who initially found the sound difficult to control. When Salonga learned the concert was about testing the strength of human hair, he purposely chose difficult pieces to play.

The three-part musical production tells the journey of a struggling violinist who discovers her strength as she transforms into a confident woman. It is a unique and inspiring sonata, told in a performance that displays the strength of human hair.

“It’s not just about the novelty. We are actually seeing results. Cream Silk is a conditioner that matches up with any brand. For generations we have been consistent about communicating beautiful hair,” Lorenzana said.

Tags: ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra , beauty , fashion , Maestro Gerard Salonga , Unilever’s Cream Silk , Virgin Hair

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