jeudi 8 décembre 2011
Pouf....................so hair raising!
Pottering around today I found an old text book about Marie Antoinette that I had found at a summer brocante tucked away on a shelf. So, as I am supposed to be resting, I slumped back under the quilt for a read - and became more and more engrossed in all the details of her life and what an amazingly decadent time it was for the aristocracy living in Paris in the 18th century.
From the 1760s it became " de rigeur" for ladies to "pouf" ( raise) their hair as high as possible. Marie Antoinette took this trend to the hilt, often undergoing elaborate hairdressing rituals that lifted her hair to a height of three feet!! These amazing constructions were strengthened with wire, linen padding, horsehair , pomade and flour.
She was also famous for the amazing embellishments that decorated her huge hair. Jewels, silk ribbons, plumes, birds, glass-beaded flowers - and even the incredible "Belle Poule," a model of a French warship of that name! The Queen's most famous coif was the "innoculation" pouf that she wore to publicize her success in persuading the King to be vaccinated against smallpox!
She employed a flamboyant, tiny man ,Jean Francois Autier Leonard, ( above) to style her tresses. He was an arrogant man and short-tempered, often throwing tantrums and hissy fits when something upset him. Leonard performed some "hair-raising" feats with her coif. Soon, women all over France were asking their stylists to arrange their hair "a la reine" ......like the queen.
One of the ladies at court had a huge concoction upon her head that included a gilded bird cage with a live, chirping bird inside!
As the fashion went on ladies suffered from hair loss, eyestrain and headaches due to the constant teasing and styling of their locks. Many had to travel with their heads hanging out of their carriage windows as they were too tall to fit inside!
Another problem were the fleas and lice that inhabited these huge styles and during the latter part of the 18th century fashionable ladies carried a long thin stick for scratching their scalps.
At night their amazing styles were wrapped with linen gauze like a huge ice cream cone to try and keep the shape and many slept propped up with pillows. With the use of flour as a stiffener it is not surprising to hear that vermin took to many a ladies hair as she slept searching for a meal!!
Can you imagine if these styles were " de rigeur" today? Mice?......Lice?......not really very nice!!