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Hairstyles and Fashion

The way a society deals with hair speaks volumes about its structures, its wealth, and its values. How is hair arranged? Is it left long or cut short? How often is it washed? Do men and women treat their hair differently and what does this tell us about gender?
This stimulating book contains articles written by the Paris hairstylist Emile Long between December 1910 and December 1920 for an English trade journal. Long's purpose in writing was to keep English coiffeurs informed about the goings-on in the world of fashion and hairdressing in France, and especially in Paris. In doing so he has provided us with a personal cultural history of the world's most fashionable city in a period that stretches from the end of the Belle Epoque, through the First World War, and into the opening year of the Roaring Twenties. His investigation of hairstyles and fashion inevitably leads him to a fascinating discussion of important historical issues: the 'true' nature of Woman; the genesis and democratization of fashion; and popular attitudes towards hygiene. With his engaging literary style Long invites us to think about consumer habits and technology, notions of fashion and cleanliness, and changing ideals of femininity and the social order.
Students and scholars of history, fashion and French society will enjoy these rich and revealing accounts of what hair means to identity and culture.
Product Details

Promotional Information

Also available in hardback, 9781859732175 GBP50.00 (April, 1999)

About the Author

Steven Zdatny West Virginia University


'The evolution of fashion is driven by "some internal logic of mind and eye" rather than by sex or functional considerations [for Steven Zdatny]. It is a proposition which readers may test for themselves, both in Zdatny's sharp, stimulating introduction and in the main business of this engaging, handsomely illustrated book: the pensees of Emile Long, a Parisian coiffeur de dames ... Tut-tutting, sniffily pompous and snobbish, Emile Long ... lights up the social history of his times.' TLS 'Since January, when the Washington Post persuaded him to untangle the significance of Paula Jones's sleek hair makeover, Steven Zdatny has reigned as this country's most quoted expert on 'the aesthetics and politics of hair'.' Lingua Franca 'At first sight a study of fashionable hairdressing might seem an unlikely topic for academic attention. However, as Steven Zdatny's collection illustrates, even a hairstyle can offer valuable historical insights, especially since this aspect of material culture comes already loaded with symbolism and cultural meaning. ' French History 'This book leads us to discoveries of Belle Epoque trends, and immerses us in a strikingly interesting world.' New Zealand Journal of French Studies

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