Beauty requires sacrifice. It was this phrase that guided girls in the 18th century, allowing hairdressers to erect complex structures up to one and a half meters high on their heads! Not only noble ladies' own hair was used, but also ribbons, jewelry, flowers, fruits, fabrics. Novate.ru decided to figure out what sacrifices the lady of that time had to make in order to keep these works of art on their heads for as long as possible.
1. A bit of history
Looking at the hairstyles of the girls of the 18th century, I want to say: "Bigger, higher, richer!" On the heads of young people, huge, complex structures were erected, representing ships, palaces, hunting scenes. Wealthy ladies could afford to build incredible bird compositions and even mini-gardens with artificial trees on their heads. At the same time, the famous A-la Belle Poule appeared - a tall ladies' hairstyle created from her own and artificial hair, including the model of the famous frigate. The creation of such a masterpiece could take a whole day, and the girl had to walk with such a design for several days, and sometimes even a week. However, the frigate was not the most grandiose structure. A mill was spinning on the head of a certain Duchess of Lozen, a hunter was hunting ducks, and a miller was leading a donkey. This is how the female head came to be used as a miniature theatrical performance.
There is an opinion that this trend owes its appearance to the favorite of Louis XV, Marie-Jeanette Becu, Countess of Dubarry. However, the young Dauphine Marie Antoinette also did not stand aside, especially after she became queen. She spent most of her time with her personal hairdresser, Leonard, discussing and inventing new hairstyles. Thanks to their joint "creativity" the world saw such masterpieces of hairdressing art as "explosion of sensitivity", "secret passion", "voluptuous" and others.
The height of the hairstyle made the queen ride in a convertible carriage or with her head stuck out the window. During such trips, a special route was created for Marie Antoinette so that low arches would not be encountered along the way. Seeing how much the queen was suffering, Leonard invented a special mechanism that allows the hair to fold and unfold.
Interesting fact: The popularity of one and a half meter hairstyles forced the director of the opera in Paris to ban entry to the stalls. This decision was made after several tragic cases, when the hair of noble ladies caught fire from the side chandeliers.
Given the popularity of original hairstyles, it is not surprising that the art of hairdressing has become very important. The king even ordered the opening of several hairdressing academies in order to increase the number of specialists who could make various compositions from hair. However, the more popular high hairstyles gained, the more the ladies had to suffer.
2. Half asleep in a chair
Considering how long it took hairdressers to construct structures from hair and the first objects that came to hand, noble ladies could not allow them to disintegrate in a few hours. Accordingly, the usual beds with soft featherbeds and pillows had to be exchanged for an armchair or sofa. And so that the head under the enormous weight of the hairstyle did not lean on the chest during sleep, the base of the neck was propped up with a special stand.
3. Pillow from the chest
If you think that before the chest served exclusively for storing beautiful and valuable things, then we hasten to surprise you: the chest was also used as a sleeping place. Small chests were always taken with them on the road or used instead of a pillow on the bed. One of these unique specimens has survived to this day - now it is on display in the Hermitage. On the one hand, this kind of "bedding" looks strange. But on the other hand, let's judge logically - if the girls slept on feather pillows, in the morning there would be nothing left of their exclusive hairstyle, on the creation of which they spent almost all day. But the hard surface of the chest did not allow the strands to fall out of the hair.
There is an opinion that such a find was borrowed from the East: the Chinese until a certain time slept on stone or porcelain pillows, and the Japanese preferred wooden kimakura.
4. Rigid half headrest
Instead of a casket, wooden headrests could be used. They were placed under the neck so that the hair was suspended. Products were created to order from the most wealthy ladies. To make this kind of pillow more comfortable, it was upholstered with velvet, and sometimes even decorated with pearls and precious stones. The decor was needed in order to demonstrate the high status of the owner.
5. Sleeping in the closet
When Peter the Great traveled to Holland, he noticed that the locals slept in a closet to protect themselves from rats. He liked this idea, and he invited his subjects to do the same as the Dutch. However, the Russian people did not appreciate the innovation, preferring to sleep on soft feather beds. The only exceptions were noble ladies, who decided that sleeping in a closet would not allow their hairstyles to deteriorate overnight. However, after riding in carriages in which the girls had to kneel in order to keep the masterpiece of hairdressing on their heads, sleeping in the closet seemed to be a real bliss.
6. Protection from mice
In the 70s of the 18th century, hairdressers discovered new means for themselves - flour and starch. They were actively used to consolidate the created compositions so that hairstyles do not deteriorate under the influence of external negative factors. However, given the fact that the girls were forced to walk with such a design for more than one day (and sometimes even more than one week), mice got into their hairstyles, which were very attracted to flour. Waking up in the morning, and finding a rodent in their hair, the ladies fainted or threw a tantrum.
To kill two birds with one stone - both to keep the hairdo and to protect from mice, helped the creation of a special wire frame-cap, which was called a wagon. If ladies could not sleep on their heads with such a cap, it was replaced with a collar, which helped keep the head suspended and contained bait for mice. The rodents, satiated with delicious food, retreated, and the frigates and artificial gardens “mounted” in the hair, remained safe and sound.
7. Means "for growth" of hair from charlatans
Along with the popularization of hairdressing, the number of charlatans who promise luxurious shiny hair to noble ladies is increasing. Their methods were extreme, to put it mildly. Some "experts" advised their clients to rub the ashes of burnt rats into the hair roots. And in France, a recipe has been preserved, which was written by one of the charlatans to the royal maid of honor. It read as follows: dry several dozen bees, crush them in a mortar, insist on alcohol, and then make masks from the resulting mixture. Such a tincture was supposed to stop hair loss, which was very important for noble ladies who literally began to go bald due to wearing heavy airtight structures.
No less interesting information is presented in the article Why vet. the collar is called Elizabethan and 5 more interesting facts from the history of fashion