How a Charming Fashion Originated-fashion of Wearing the Cap-coiffures in the Reign of
The ladies of fashion at the beginning of the reign of the Sun King, Louis XIV. of France, wore their hair in frizzled curls upon the forehead, with very large curls on either side of the face (Fig. 1). In 1680 a revolution in head-dresses took place. At a Royal hunting party, the hat of the Duchess de Fontanges was blown off, and she employed her ribbon garter to confine her disordered locks, fastening it with a careless bow at the side.
The following day every lady's hair was undressed a la Fontanges. This ribbon tie with a bow at the side is a prototype of the present day fashion (Fig. 2). The style became the rage, and lasted for several years, but with alterations and additions, until, at length, it became an edifice of lace, ribbons, and hair, with the characteristic peak of lace mounted on brass wire, which, it is said, was two feet high.
Fig. I. In the reign of Louis XIV. the hair was worn with small curls over the forehead, with large curls either side of the face
In England it was fashionable in the reign of Queen Anne.
About this period, too, the cap began to be adopted for indoor wear, and prevailed for many years, through the poudre period and until the early Victorian epoch. The mob cap was very attractive until it became rather too voluminous, completely enveloping the head, and with wide strings tied under the chin.
After a period of simple fashions, during the reign of Madame de Maintenon, Louis Quatorze, tiring of her prim coifs, desired the great ladies to revert again to the display of former days. At the close of the great reign the high points of the Fontanges head-dress were still to be seen, but the structure had then become more elaborate. James II. continued the Caroline fashions, with small modifications, and it is not until we reach the epoch of Queen Anne that a really new form is apparent. It was then
Fig. 2. A style introduced by the Duchess de Fontanges. who used her ribbon garter to confine her disordered locks
Fig. 3. A formal arrangement of the front hair, with many puffs and trailing ringlets adopted in the reign of Queen Anne that the wearing of an upstanding cap began in England, and the head was differently arranged to suit this new departure. In the portraits of Anne and her favourites we find the new element of the cow-horn curl, a formal arrangement of the front locks which was combined with a multitude of puffs and bends and trailing ringlets
The reign of Anne, sometimes known as " the Augustan Age," brought many things to a grave and stately perfection in England, and the ideals of the time were essentially grandiose and courtly. Blenheim and Ramillies gave their names to the flowing perruques with which the glorious Marlborough rig. 5. Mrs. Masham, as friend of Queen Anne, copied her Majesty in the arrangement of her tresses adorned his handsome person, and we find in the head-dresses of the women of this epoch that sort of gracious blending of pomp and severity which harmonised with the rather pompous dignity of life and letters, and the discreet splendour of Anne's Court at St. James's.
The curl was not suppressed, nor was it given undue prominence. It was used rather as a flourish to a fairly serious composition, much as palms, flowers, and fruit were carved to embellish the architecture of the day.
In the coiffure of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, we find a curl distinctly suggesting the "coxcomb" of the mid-victorian small boy (Fig. 4). But, then, Sarah Jennings was an exceptional and extremely independent personality, and it is said she once cut off her beautiful hair to spite her husband. This may account for the presence of this curl upon her head, as it denotes a certain shortness of the hair employed-at any rate, she does not seem to have found imitators.
Fig. 6. An elaborate curl suggestive of a " cow-horn," as worn by Anne Oldfield. the celebrated actress
Mrs. Masham, another friend of Queen Anne, followed her Majesty closely in the arrangement of her tresses (Fig. 5). Anne Oldfield, the celebrated actress, gives us the cow-horn in its fullest perfection (Fig. 6). And upon the queen of William of Orange this fashion in some measure survives (Fig. 7).
The frontal arrangement, which has been aptly called the cow-horn curl, is quite peculiar to the early part of the eighteenth century, when it seems to have captivated popular taste. It probably originated as an imitation of the formal arrangement of the perruque, universally worn by better-class men from the time of Charles II., and gradually rose to a greater height over the forehead, taking many forms of symmetrical curves upon the brow. These tremendous wigs were extremely costly, and were periodically curled and even re-made as fashion changed. And we find that the feminine chevelure often echoed the masculine fashion in curls.
Powder was to be the next extravagance of fashion, and the wondrous headdresses of the poudre period will form the subject of another article.
At the magnificent Court of Louis XIV., which initiated so many extravagances, powder first came into fashion, and with powder and pomatum came by degrees what may be called the architecture of the hairdresser, which rioted into such ridiculous extravagance and artificialities as the world had never before seen upon the human head.
Even the splendid Sun King grew old, and the great ladies who surrounded him could not retain the freshness of youth, so a new freshness of white periwig and painted complexion, of powder, pomatum, and patches came into vogue.
The wigmakers had their hour of glory and renown in the day of the famous peruke. It was now the turn of the hairdresser to try his prentice hand. During the reign of Madame de Pompadour good taste in hair - dressing prevailed. It was afterwards that folly distinguished herself, and the heads of women grew to such enormous size that it was impossible for them to drive in a closed carriage without stooping or kneeling down.
What the pastrycook had done for cakes and dessert dishes the coiffeur-friseur was to do for the head - temples, hills, ships, mills, grottos, huge upstanding puffs and billows of hair built up on frames, and plastered into sculpturesque solidity, decorated with feathers, ribbons, jewels, or distorted into scenery for pasteboard figures. Nothing suggested hair, except the stray trailing curl which hung upon the necks of these victims of fashion.
To be continued.