Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Death of the Coiffure

Although I adore vintage and antique goodies, I am very "modern" in the sense that I have no romantic or idealized notions about living/wanting to live in the past. Life [particularly for women] was pretty awful up until the last half of the 20th century, and I have no desire to relive the difficulty and complications of the female world of bygone eras.



That said, I do have an affinity for fashion, jewelry, and hairstyles of the past. I often imagine being the acquaintance of some eccentric, wealthy figure who throws an annual masquerade ball -- I would then have the excuse to hire a master coiffurist to spend half a day turning my hair into a bejeweled hair sculpture, so intricate and voluminous that I would have stoop down to fit through doorways. Here are some delightful possibilities:













Does anyone else have these bizarre imaginings? I suppose I should be grateful it is just a fantasy and not a prerequisite for proper womanhood anymore. Really, thank goodness the coiffure is dead...but the occasional masquerade seems fun [and might remind us how far we've come?].
[All images from the NYPL Digital Archives]

19 comments:

Airam said...

The masquerade is a dying art form, I'm afraid... and it's such a shame, for what's more fun than attending a fabulous party where nobody knows who the others are, and everyone acts more freely since their identity is hidden? Perhaps I'll have to throw a christmas-masquerade... or even better, a February-masquerade, since February is the saddest, darkest month up here, I think.

Brigid said...

I'm totally with you. I appreciate the styles on an aesthetic level, but I would not go back in time just to wear them! If I were to attend a masquerade, I'd need a wig. I don't have any where near enough hair to fancy up that way!

[Tara] said...

airam -- people really should bring the masquerade back...it seems so sexy and mysterious. You should throw one! Invite me, LOL ;)

[Tara] said...

brigid -- I don't have enough hair either, but from what I understand, women used to use crazy attachments and hair pieces...but a wig might be easier, LOL!

Savvy Mode SG said...

i completely agree with you. imagine if we have to hand wash clothes, make butter, jam and bread from scratch....

lacouturiernyc said...

i'm on the same page as you - beautiful, yes, but i wouldnt sacrifice the now to go back for those vintage styles. a masquerade would be amazin tho. minus the wig.


xoxo
La C

[Tara] said...

savvy -- no kidding! we have it so easy in comparison!

lacouturier -- People need to have masquerades again...but, yes, no matter how beautiful those styles were, there is no way I would trade my wash-n-go hair and blue jeans!

Mrs.French said...

I like to appreciate this from afar...so, so beautiful! xo

michiko said...

I totally agree with you, I love vintage styles but I wouldn't go back and live in the time, no way lol
I'd love to attend masquerade though, it's a shame there aren't many fab parties like that anymore (especially in japan. japanese suck at parties)
Beautiful hair and hair accessories!

[Tara] said...

mrs french -- I know! I would love to have just one of these lovely hair pins!

michiko -- Thanks! I think people have become lazy with parties...and it is expensive ;)

Miss Karen said...

I love these pictures you posted! I'm always mesmerised by the old images of decadent beauty. The men and women always looked so perfect and really treated their external appearance as a work of art.

ana said...

looks like a lot of work! i can admire it from an esthetic point, but not enough to try it.

[Tara] said...

miss karen-- it seems every detail was so important. I can see how they felt very creative in this pursuit but also how it could become so stifling...

ana-- I agree...well, I would try it once at least!

Couture Carrie said...

Exquisite post! Love these antique pictures. What amazing hairpins and styles!

xoxox,
CC

[Tara] said...

carrie -- thanks! You just don't see beautiful hair accessories very much like these anymore.

mothersvea said...

I would love to try that once but I can't ever imagine to do that every day! even though it's very beautiful..

Grace said...

This is a wonderful, magical post. Those images you found are amazing.

[Tara] said...

grace -- thanks!! The NYPL has amazing images that I can get lost in for hours!

ambika said...

I need to track down repro hair nets. I love the look of them in 1940s photos.