British Hairdressers’ Academy First Hairdressing Contest and Ball of 1866

Various hairstyles from the “La Mode Illustrée” of 1864. Public domain.

The British Hairdressers’ Academy first hairdressing contest and ball of 1866 was scheduled after the academy was established on 2 November 1865 at 71 Davies Street. That is when British hairdressers unanimously passed a resolution to extend membership to any coiffeur (now more commonly called a hairdresser or hairstylist) of any nation. Employers were admitted as honorary members with a payment of one guinea annually and journeymen were charged an entrance fee of a half-a-crown, plus a subscription of one shilling per month. At the time of this resolution, the following was also mentioned:

“The committee appointed now appeal to the employers to forward their names and subscriptions for enrolment, and to their fellow workmen to aid them by their immediate subscriptions, … The cheering result of their first soirée encourages the committee to hope for the general support not only of the trade, but of perfumers, florists, brush and comb makers, &c., who are so intimately connected with the trade, to whom, also will be extended the privileges of membership. … The committee venture to hope that they will receive sufficient funds to warrant them in taking chambers in a respectable locality.”[1]

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Tie-wig, Bob-wig, and Bag-Wig of the 1700s

Tie-wig, Bob-wig, and Bag-Wig of the 1700s
A Gentleman’s Wig, Public Domain

Of all the fashions of the 1700s, perhaps the wig most resembles “character of that period, embodying the artificiality, the mixture of dignity and affectation, and the pompous conventionality.”[1] The wig did not suddenly appear over night but rather grew into popularity until at one point wigs were so fashionable, if you wore your own hair you tried to make it appear as if it were a wig. During Louis XIV’s reign big flowing wigs were popular, but towards the end of Louis XV’s reign in 1774, smaller wigs became fashionable, until even they disappeared.

Many of the wigs gentlemen wore were created from real human hair, and it was common for fashionable beaus to keep their wig looking perfect by carrying in their side pocket, “a tortoiseshell wig-comb … for constant use.”[2] It also became common for people to sell their hair to earn extra money. In fact, at one point, real hair became worth so much, people who had long flowing locks were sometimes threatened or attacked for their hair. 

In the 1700s, all sorts of wigs came in and out of fashion. Among the fashionable wigs of the times were three: the tie-wig, also known as the Ramillies (sometimes spelled Ramilies) wig, the bob-wig, and the bag-wig. Continue reading

Hairstyles of 1870

Parisian Hairstyles of 1870, Author's Collection
Parisian Hairstyles of 1870, Author’s Collection

According to Peterson’s Magazine, hairstyles of 1870 were “not [any] less high upon the summit of the head than they were [the previous] … year; quite the contrary, only the chignon has disappeared.” Although the hairstyles might have been the same size in height, the back of 1870 hairdos were flatter and consisted of curls, plaits, or twists located at the neck. In fact, the back was often so low hairnets became fashionable once again, and in particular, “the variety [of nets] called ‘invisible’ … once more [were] called into requisition.”

Ornamentation of the 1870 hairstyles occurred at the front with bows universally worn at the time so that “no lady appears to fancy that her toilet is complete without one.” The bows often matched a woman’s dress and were made from wide ribbon with two loops, and arranged precisely as Alsatian women wore them. Sometimes the four-looped bows were narrower, but women found these four-looped bows “neither so pretty, nor so stylish-looking [as the more fashionable and wider two-looped bows].” Continue reading

Georgian Headdresses of the 1780 and 1790s

Georgian headdresses, Lambelle Headdress, Author's Collection
Lamballe Headdress, Author’s Collection

By the mid 1780s, the towering Georgian headdresses that had been so popular in the earlier decade were slowly being replaced by less lofty creations. It was also during this time that hairstyles became wider and loaded with curls. The front portion of the hair was often styled away from the face and the top portion of the hair was either crimped, frizzed, or curled. The lower portion of the hair was usually arranged in cascading ringlets or large curls that sometimes flowed to the waist and added a note of carelessness to the overall arrangement. Marie Antoinette’s friend and confidante was princess Marie Thérèse of Savoy. She was better known as the princesse de Lamballe. She wore a style similar to the Lamballe Headdress created by the French hairdresser Henri de Bysterveld, illustrated to the right. Continue reading