Need a haircut ?

I stumbled onto this illustration while I was doing some research on telescopes for my book. A woman is having her wig shaped by a French hairdresser on a step ladder. And the husband looks on, through a telescope.

The image is dated 1771, so I'm venturing into the 18th century--which is less familiar territory for me. But I have a sneaking suspicion that this is not an especially accurate representation of Enlightenment style. Anyone care to weigh in? Or want to offer some web links for the real scoop on hair just before the French Revolution?

For those content to remain safely in the Old Regime,
I can't recommend Joan De Jean's The Essence of Style: How the French Invented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour highly enough. The title is a mouthful, but the book is a rousing (and well-researched) romp with the greatest Parisian trend-setters of all: the court of Louis XIV.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Holly, I am definitely not the expert on 18th century hair (although I am actually researching it right now for another book!) but it does look very much like the other pamphlets that mocked the poof styles. But there lies the problem – the pamphlets were designed to be caricatures. The artist is obviously poking fun with those ridiculously big scissors. I do know that hair was high enough to not be able to fit into a carriage (requiring ladies to sit on the floor).

    You can never fully trust the historical accuracy of any pamphlet or libel because they were produced to exaggerate viewpoints just like political cartoons are today.

    Here is some info on the pouf:

    You know who might be able to give you more specific hair info is Catherine Delors over at She wrote a really fabulous book that takes place late 18th century France.

    Oh and my email is Just email me about the guest post.


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