Hairstyles and Fashion: A Hairdresser's History of Paris, 1910-1920

Hairstyles and Fashion: A Hairdresser's History of Paris, 1910-1920

Hairstyles and Fashion: A Hairdresser's History of Paris, 1910-1920

Hairstyles and Fashion: A Hairdresser's History of Paris, 1910-1920

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

Now a word about ornaments for the hair, which, like everything else, are continually changing. One of the happiest ideas of the season has come from our colleague, Monsieur Perrin, who has to his credit so many Trade inventions. His system is to attach to the rigid bandeaux of the nape, much in vogue at this moment, two strands of hair to encircle the coiffure. These two strands are mounted squarely and attached to the shaped or decorated bandeaux by means of M. Perrin's ‘Marie-Louise’ barrette. It would be difficult to over-estimate the services which can be rendered by this accessory: half postiche, half ornament. Firstly, it avoids thicknesses, which are always inconvenient and disagreeable in a relatively small headdress, as is preferred at the present time by our fashionable clients. It also constitutes a novelty, and that is usually sufficient for ladies to adopt it, for novelties are very rare – as rare as they are lucrative.

Another innovation that may be mentioned is the revival of aigrettes and high feathers in the ornamentation of theatre coiffures. I would not like my readers to think that this style is general, nor even possible for all ladies, because of the decided movement against large hats and ornaments, but [such ornaments are] now worn on Fridays by many very fashionable ladies in their own boxes at the Cpera, where, of course, they annoy nobody.

Finally, I may add that one has never before seen in Paris such pretty or such rich hair ornaments as are now conspicuous. That is accounted for by the fact that the artist-designers, collaborating with the leading ladies hairdressers and certain brodeurs d'art [embroiderers], have produced some elaborate designs, which are sold at prices as high as 300 francs each. the best Parisian women workers are making the designs of the artists on skins and leathers of all shades, on the richest stuffs, with golden threads and multicoloured silks and with precious stones, costly pearls, and fine spangles. the brodeuses in question are devoting as much as a month's work to a single ornament. the jewellers and shellworkers are likewise devising remarkable productions for the ornamentation of the feminine head.

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