By Steven Zdatny
The way a society deals with hair speaks volumes about its structures, its wealth, and its values. How is hair arranged? Is it left long or cut short? How often is it washed? Do men and women treat their hair differently and what does this tell us about gender?This stimulating book contains articles written by the Paris hairstylist Emile Long between December 1910 and December 1920 for an English trade journal. Long's purpose in writing was to keep English coiffeurs informed about the goings-on in the world of fashion and hairdressing in France, and especially in Paris. In doing so he has provided us with a personal cultural history of the world's most fashionable city in a period that stretches from the end of the Belle Epoque, through the First World War, and into the opening year of the Roaring Twenties. His investigation of hairstyles and fashion inevitably leads him to a fascinating discussion of important historical issues: the 'true' nature of Woman; the genesis and democratization of fashion; and popular attitudes towards hygiene. With his engaging literary style Long invites us to think about consumer habits and technology, notions of fashion and cleanliness, and changing ideals of femininity and the social order.Students and scholars of history, fashion and French society will enjoy these rich and revealing accounts of what hair means to identity and culture.