Some few of the headdresses of ancient Rome are, no doubt, both natural and beautiful, but the then woman of fashion believed in piled-up formalism as fervently as did the early Georgian ladies. One of the earliest of these great Roman ladies wears a very fine example of what was called a few years ago the "Shore-ditch fringe" - a head-dress no longer to be found even in Shoreditch.
It is composed of a transverse parting from ear to ear, with all the front hair formed into a rounded mass of small frizzy curls. To such a head did Chevalier sing his odes - such was the fascinating style alike of Mrs. 'enery' Awkins and of Domitia, the wife of Domitian in a.d. 56. (Fig. 4.)
Another great Roman lady wears three rows of isolated little curls across the top of the head, with a radiating fringe of pufflike curls framing the face, adding one of those trailing locks, vulgarly called a "follow me" in the 'seventies, upon each shoulder. Such a coiffure was chosen by Agrippina the Elder, when she posed before the sculptor who was to immor-lise her features.
In the head of Crispina, the wife of the Emperor Corn-modus, we find evidence of the wave. This lady a complex simplicity by wearing a strand of very much crimped hair from the forehead to the nape of the neck, a large plaited knot of hair on the nape of the neck, with hair at the top and sides of the head worn in big horizontal waves. There is something of the Cleo de Merode in this rather fascinating coiffure, and the two little "kissing curls" should also be noted. (Fig. 6.)
Fig. 6. The favourite style of coiffure of Crispina. wife of the Roman Emperor Commodus. an example of complex simplicity that is very becoming and most modern in effect
Fig. 7. The mode adopted by Claudia Olympia at the beginning of the second century A.d., which shows artifice carried to excess. It foreshadows the chignon of later date. The forehead curls resemble those of the 17th century
The coiffure of Claudia Olympia at the begining of the second century, perhaps thirty years later, shows artifice carried to excess, not only in its three rows of formal curls with the central curls predominating, but in the extraordinary winding arrangement of the plaited back hair. It bears some relation to the chignon of later date, in its full and neat effect, though the fulness appears more at the side than the back. The little curls pasted down on the forehead are similar to those in vogue in the seventeenth century. (Fig. 7.)
Another lady of later date, Nero's unfortunate mother, Agrippina, wears her hair in a fashion which seems prophetic of Mr. George Washington and the Georgian bag wig, except that the rows of side curls are continued right over the head. (Fig. 8.)
There is a delightful lapse from formality in the pretty, natural curls tied over the head and bound in the neck of a contemporary "Diana." Here the artist, too, availed himself of the same licence as did Romney when he painted the divine Emma as a Bacchante, or spirit of youth, in the intervals of presenting us with poudre ladies. The same form of head-dress is seen in a portrait of Angelica Kauffmann. (Fig. 9.)
We should note a decadent age is not always and entirely artificial, for the head from the buried Roman city of Herculaneum we here illustrate is a beautiful and natural arrangement, though this may, of course, represent an artist's model and not the fashion current at the time. (Fig. 10.) Doubtless the beauties of ancient Greece and Rome acted on the advice given by Ovid: "Everyone should consult his or her mirror, and choose the style of head-dress that suits their physiognomy best." Diana, who wore her locks in a simple coil at the back of the head, was suitably coiffed, and many a classic head was dressed thus.
To quote Ovid once more: "We cannot all wear our hair in the same style, because our figures and the contours of our heads and features are diverse. It suits some to have their hair fluffy; others appear best with it smooth and severe-koking. Others, to render themselves more beautiful, must curl it, and form it in tendrils and wavelets all over their heads."
In another article we shall follow the history of the curl to a later date, and note its further variations.
To be continued.
From a statue of Diana, such as may be seen later in
Fig. 9. A delightful and natural classic head-dress a portrait of Angelica Kauffmann
Fig. 8. 'agrippina, mother of Nero, wore her hair thus, a fashion somewhat prophetic of the Georgian bag wig
Fig. 10. This simple coiffure is found on a head from the buried city of Herculaneum, and probably represents an artist's model, not the fashion then current