My job as a hair stylist is to help women find the perfect hair for their lifestyle. One of the ways I do this, almost without thinking, is to put everything in perspective from the standpoint of time. Before I can determine where we are going with a style, I have to think about where we have been. So for this, I’d like to switch on the disco ball time machine and quickly travel back through the hair revolution of the past 100 years. If you want, dial up Vogue by Madonna on your iPod for a bit of inspiration: Greta Garbo and Monroe, Deitrich and DiMaggio….
For centuries, women were consigned to having long, heavy tresses, but from 1920 onward, women have freed themselves from this burden, to the point where women now can do anything they want with their hair, as long as they are happy with it. The first milestone was the bob in the 1920’s. It was the flapper era, a time when the attitude was “the devil may care,” and Louise Brooks was its “It Girl.” Her iconic cut still is worn today by heavy-hitter influencers like American Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour, and not only because it is short, straight and edgy, but because it is also androgynous, empowering women to feel strong and take charge of their own lives.
Then came the Crash of 1929, leading into the Great Depression of the 1930’s. This was when the old adage, “the harder the times, the softer the hair,” really came to fruition. Women started to escape the difficulties in their own lives by taking sanctuary in the cinema, where screen sirens such as Greta Garbo and Jean Harlow prowled, growing out their bobs into soft, face-framing curls.
From the frying pan into the fire, we then went into the 1940’s and World War II. Women didn’t have time or money to go to the salon, so their hair began to grow, but goddesses like Rita Hayworth in Gilda and Veronica Lake kept it soft and sultry with heartbreaker waves, a trend that enabled the transformations of Norma Jean into Marilyn and Betty Joan Perske into Lauren Bacall. By the 50’s, women were back in business and back to the salon, cutting their hair again, but for a sexy, seductress effect. Think Elizabeth Taylor in Butterfield 8 (Only Liz could play a prostitute and still look like a million!) and the brick house bombshells that were Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida.
|Veronica Lake, Sophia Loren, Liz Taylor, Gina Lollobrigida|
They came on so strong that no man could resist! All of these women had so much influence on those who came after them, and still do today, so we will continue our journey, then come back to the future in my next blog. For now, fade out Madonna: They had style, they had grace, Rita Hayworth gave good face. Lauren, Katherine, Lana too, Bette Davis, we love you!