Update: The exhibition has been extended through May 11. 

There’s a secret to many of those perfectly cinematic coifs: It’s Italian wigmaker Rocchetti & Rocchetti, whose hairpieces have graced the heads of such stars as Sophia Loren, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio.

Star Wigs — La Mano Italiana Crea,” an exhibition at the Italian Embassy that is open to the public through May 11, delves into this behind-the-scenes part of the movie business with a display of 30 wigs, some with costumes to match. The artifacts are being displayed as part of the Year of Italian Culture in the U.S.

Wig worn by Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge." (Courtesy of the Italian Embassy) Wig worn by Nicole Kidman in "Moulin Rouge." (Courtesy of the Italian Embassy)

Rocchetti & Rocchetti don’t just make wigs — they make characters. Hair can shape a role, as it did for Kirsten Dunst’s let-them-eat-cake Marie Antoinette, who wore a Rocchetti-designed, confectionary-inspired wig for Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film. The artifacts are accompanied by a digital collage of photographs from the “La Dolce Vita” era of Italian cinema, and a documentary, “Handmade Cinema,” by Laura Delli Colli.

 “Star Wigs — La Mano Italiana Crea,” on view at the Italian Embassy, 3000 Whitehaven St. NW, from May 3-11 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. by appointment. E-mail renato.miracco@esteri.it for appointments. 202-612-4407. Free.

Wig worn by Kirsten Dunst in "Marie Antoinette." (Courtesy of the Italian Embassy)

Wig worn by Elizabeth Taylor in "Cleopatra." (Courtesy of the Italian Embassy)