Hairstyles of the 1860s by Henri de Bysterveld

As nineteenth century women began visiting hairdressers, those who knew of Henri de Bysterveld began requesting his creations and his various hairstyles of the 1860s. Bysterveld was a French hairdresser and editor of the Gazette of Hair who published several books and elevated hairdressing to an art form. He created his hairstyles from antiquity, from styles 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 styles 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 into his hairstyles. His abilities became so well regarded and his hairstyles so well known, he was praised throughout Europe.

Cartoon parodying what was required to dress a woman’s hair in the eighteenth century. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Some of Bysterveld’s more complex and popular coiffures were published in books. Eight of these that he published and made popular in the 1860s are shown below. For instance, weddings were just as popular in the Victorian Era as they are today, and brides wanted to look their best. Bysterveld was willing to make that happen and he created several bridal hairstyles of the 1860s. The first of these he called the Young Bride Headdress. It was extremely simple and one he recommended for a young bride with a fair complexion. To achieve this look, Bysterveld parted the hair in the center and then created a part that ran from ear to ear about eight centimeters (which is about three inches) from the forehead. The forehead portion of the hair was tightly curled while the remainder was raised to the temples in Mary Stuart fashion and formed into what Bysterveld called “3 hammer curls.” In the rear a small catogan was secured in place and then a diadem of blossoms from an orange tree and veil, crowned the bridal creation.

Hairstyles of the 1860s - Young Bride Headdress, Author's Collection

Young Bride Headdress. Author’s collection.

The next bride’s headdress is known as the Berthe Headdress. It too was suggested for fair complected women and for young brides. However, this style could also be worn at “certain assemblies,” which could be achieved by “deck[ing] it out with flowers in relation to the trimmings of the gown.” It involved a small Mary Stuart at the temples, a plait on the forehead, and a few small curls that fell underneath the plait or braid. The remainder of the hair, along with another plait were arranged behind the ears at the rear of the head. A diadem or crown of orange blossoms and a sheer veil finished off the coiffure.

Berthe Headdress, Author's Collection

Berthe Headdress. Author’s collection.

The last bridal hairstyles of the 1860s was the Siren Headdress. It was a brand new style for 1864 and supposedly created for someone fair or brown in complexion. It suited young brides but was claimed to be adaptable for “balls or grand evening parties in changing the flowers.” To execute this style, locks were separated at the temples and a false braid or plait introduced. Curls were made on the forehead and a diadem plait situated behind the curls. The hair was raised at the temples over the plait. Another plait was also introduced to fall below the hair at the neck. To one side a bunch of flowers were added, both in front and behind the plait, and then the veil was positioned as shown in the illustration below.

Hairstyles of the 1860s - Siren Headdress, Author's Collection

Siren Headdress. Author’s collection.

Besides bridal creations, Bysterveld also created numerous headdresses or hairstyles of the 1860s considered to be from antiquity. One of these was the Apollo Headdress. It was considered “a bold style,” suitable for fair complexions and for “young and pretty women, who can wear [their] hair tucked up in a light manner.” The hair was separated ten centimeters (which is almost four inches) from the forehead and ran from ear to ear, with the remainder of the hair tucked up in what Bysterveld called “Chinese.” This was tied at the neck and formed a catogan chignon with a few wispy ends tightly curled and emerging from the back. The hair at the temples was raised up to form a “Mary Stuart” and tied or secured at strategic points on the top of the head so as to form what Bysterveld christened, “the knot of Apollo.”

Hairstyles of the 1860s - Apollo Headdress, Author's Collection

Apollo Headdress. Author’s collection.

Another antiquity style was the Octavia, which was supposedly the hairstyle worn by the niece of the Emperor Augustus and was according to Bysterveld, “quite in the fashion of the day and may be worn either by a person of a fair or brown complexion, for the theatre or grand evening parties.” It was executed by separating the hair eight centimeters from the forehead. Then, using either short hair or false hair, the hair was arranged into small cannon curls sideways across the forehead. In the back, the hair was curled into eight or ten large corkscrews and the entire style was finished with a gold band placed behind the small cannon curls.

Hairstyles of the 1860s - Octavia, Author's Collection

Octavia. Author’s collection.

Besides antiquity styles, Bysterveld also recreated styles popular in France between the 1600 and 1700s. One of these was titled the Maintenon Headdress, said to be a “most graceful style” and to “perfectly suit a fair complexion.” It was based on styles worn during the time of Louis XIV, but modified by Bysterveld to fit modern times — that being the 1860s. Very short hair was used at the front and pomatum, also known as pommade or pomade, was used at the end of the curls so as retain points and have the hair stand upright. Three large curls were placed on either side at the front and formed to roll one over the top of the other, across the width of the head. Drum curls flowed onto the shoulders and a precious gold diadem was used as decoration and centered atop the head.

Maintenon Headdress, Author's Collection

Maintenon Headdress. Author’s collection.

Beside the Maintenon, there was also a hairstyle titled “Louis XVI Headdress.” Bysterveld believed this hairstyle was suited for “disguise when it is powdered, by that reason it may also serve for the theatre and evening parties. It [is becoming to all ladies] … of a fair complexion, but when powdered it preferably suits a brown one.” To achieve this look, the hair was separated into ten centimeter sections at the front, running from ear to ear, and with the use of false hair, placed underneath the real hair, a “Dubarry” was formed. At the rear of the head a catogan chignon was placed and on either side of it a curl. Ornamentation included a bunch of roses and ribbons.

Hairstyles of the 1860s - Louis XVI Headdress, Author's Collection

Louis XVI Headdress. Author’s collection.

Another of the hairstyles of the 1860s created by Bysterveld was known as the Lambelle and was worn by the Princesse de Lamballe. She was the charming friend of Marie Antoinette and married the Prince de Lambelle. This hairstyle was grand and imposing and formed with powder and pomatum. The hair was separated about ten centimeters from the front with a part running from ear to ear. False hair or some padded form was placed underneath the hair so as to create one side higher than the other. The front hair was then deftly mixed in with the false piece so as to be unnoticeable. Wavy curves of hair were drawn backwards from the face and formed into large hammer curls at the tips. At the rear, a large catogan chignon was achieved. As the hairstyle was over the top, so was the ornamentation. It consisted of a large rose and flower garland that was strewn across the front underneath a satin bonnet that had ribbons draping from it and falling to the shoulders behind.

Hairstyles of the 1860s - Lambelle Headdress, Author's Collection

Lambelle Headdress. Author’s collection.


  • Henri de Bysterveld, Album de Coiffures Historiques, (Paris), 1864
  • Lacroix, A., Paris Guide

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