The French Pouf

"Rose" Bertin, Courtesy of Wikipedia
“Rose” Bertin, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Mademoiselle Marie-Jeanne Bertin, or as she was called at court, “Rose,” gained fame as dressmaker and became known for creating complicated headdresses. These headdresses, also known as “poufs,” were called such because the hair was raised with pads, wool, false hairpieces, and pomade. Bertin’s rise to fame began in a millinery shop where through a stroke of fate she met the Princess of Conti and became responsible to create the trousseau for the richest heiress in France, the Duchess of Chartres. The Duchess then introduced her to Marie Antoinette, and before long Bertin became the Queen’s stylist and dressmaker.

Working with Léonard Autié, the Queen’s hairdresser, Bertin and Autié created some memorable teetering and towering poufs. Among the poufs designed were the pouf aux sentiments, pouf à la circonstance, pouf à l’inoculation, à loge d’opéra, and pouf à la Belle-Poule. Continue reading

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

Various Hairstyles of the 1860s

During the Victorian Era, Henri de Bysterveld, a French hairdresser and editor of the Gazette of Hair, published several books and elevated hairdressing to an art form. He created his hairstyles from antiquity,  from hairstyles fashionable during the 1600 and 1700s, and from his travels—places such as Germany, Spain, and Belgium. He also introduced ornaments, such as flowers, pearls, or jewels, into his styles and was regularly praised for his ability to create headdresses that mixed well with a woman’s face shape and complexion. Additionally, he became adept at creating wigs and false hair pieces, which he regularly incorporated. His abilities became so well regarded and his hairstyles so well known, he was praised throughout Europe.

By the 1860s, as women began visiting hairdressers, those who knew of his creations requested a Bysterveld hairstyle. Some of his more complex and popular coiffures were published in books. The following styles are some he published and made popular in the 1860s. Continue reading

Hairstyles with Bonnets in 1864

Hairstyles with Bonnets: Apartment Headdress, Author's Collection
Apartment Headdress, Author’s Collection

During the 1860s, Henri de Bysterveld, a French hairdresser and editor of the Gazette of Hair, published several books and elevated hairdressing to an art form. His hairstyles relied on Greek, Roman, and Louis XIII to Louis XVI times for inspiration. Bysterveld often used ornamentation, such as feathers, flowers, or jewels, and it was claimed he was a magician when it came to hair, as he offered innumerable ways to arrange a woman’s hair appropriate to her face and complexion. Some of his more complex and popular coiffures were published in books. Some styles that Bysterveld created, relied on kerchiefs, caps, or bonnets and the following are some of those styles.

The Apartment Headdress, as it was known, was, according to Bysterveld, “equally suitable for a brown or fair complexion and for every age, when the physiognomy allows it.” It was achieved by separating the hair from the forehead so as to form a “Mary Stuard without separation.” Behind the catogan, a chignon was formed with a fork comb that was fixed to a piece of hair and turned before being locked firmly into place. A fanchon, which was French for kerchief, was placed over the head to ornament the style. Continue reading

Evening Hairstyles of the 1860s

Evening hairstyles of the 1860s by Bysterveld, Author's Collection
Typical Bysterveld Hairstyle, Author’s Collection

During the 1860s, Henri de Bysterveld, a hairdresser and editor of the Gazette of Hair, published several books and elevated hairdressing to an art form. His inspiration relied on antiquity (the Greeks and the Romans) and the 1600 and 1700s. People claimed he was a magician when it came to styling hair, and they reported that he offered innumerable ways to arrange a woman’s hair and did so to suit her face shape and skin tone.

Some of his more dramatic, complex, and popular creations, adorned with feathers, flowers, or jewels, were compiled and published in 1864 in his book, Album de Coiffures Historiques. The following styles were designated as evening hairstyles of the 1860s and come from his book. 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

Georgian Headdresses of the 1770 and 1780s

French Headdresses and Fashions (between 1774 and 1780) and a Woman with a Pleated Fan, Author's Collection
Women in the Forefront Adorned in Lavish Hat and Pouf, Author’s Collection

Between 1770 and 1780 extreme hairstyles and tall headdress were in vogue in France, and these extraordinary super-structures made a distinct fashion statement that is still talked of today. This was because the French considered their hair and its accompanying headdress to be one of the most important articles in a woman’s toilet and they went to extremes to ensure this fashion stood out.

Hairstyles or headdresses, known as poufs, became increasingly large as hair was placed over pads and cushions, sometimes with wire supporting the overall creation. In addition, the hairstyles were pomaded, curled, frizzed, powdered, and secured in placed with large pins. The high dos were also laced with large eye-popping curls that were placed on either side of the head, as well as curls that often went from bottom to top. Usually, at least one curl was placed vertically or horizontally behind the ears, and sometimes chignons or plaits were added into these headdresses. Continue reading