It was during the Regency that powder went out of fashion, and with it the piled up creations of the barber. The energetic wave of new ideas which followed the French Revolution set entirely new fashions, and these were before long echoed
Fig. I. The " Merveilleuse " coiffure that was in vogue after the
French Revolution, when pseudo-greek ideals were to the fore in every department of fashion in monarchical England and elsewhere. The Greek or, rather, pseudo-greek ideals were set up, and the aristocratic tradition of powder came to a sudden end after almost a hundred years of cultivation. After the reign of terror in France there was a sudden burst of gaiety, a reaction from the gloom of the Revolution. The "In-croyables" and the "Merveilleuses," who had been suppressed for a time, again displayed themselves, and for some years there were no more Parisians. All the women became Greek and Roman. The Merveilleuses wore gowns without waists, bound round, the bosom by a girdle, short in front, to let the foot be seen, and slightly trained at the back.
Some of the bolder leaders of fashion wore diaphanous tunics of transparent lawn, slit down the sides from the hips. These ladies, who followed the fashions of Athens, also borrowed their headdresses from Greek statues, and wore their hair crisply curled and confined in a net, with tresses and plaits in which jewels were inserted. Blonde wigs, dressed in the same fashion, were also very much favoured. (Fig. i.)
Then what was characterised as the guillotine style of hairdressing became popular, and the hair was combed up at the back and brought forward on the forehead in a tumbled mass of curls. Then suddenly the "Titus" mode came into fashion, and to follow this women cut off their tresses, leaving the head close cropped at the back, and allowing a few-long, dishevelled locks hanging on the brow.
David's portrait of Josephine (Fig. 2), and that of Madame Recamier, by Gerard (Fig. 3), show these two ladies, in the garb of ancient Rome, reclining upon couches. In 1804 the "Titus" style ceased to be fashionable, and women who had shaved their natural locks were forced to have recourse to borrowed fronts and plaits to make up their Etruscan chignons. The belles of the Empire at the time of Napoleon's campaign wore their hair piled into a helmet shape on the top of
Fig, 4. Lady Blessington, from the painting by Sir Thomas
Lawrence. This picture shows severe simplicity and a total suppression of the curl the head, with side and forehead curls falling negligently round the face. It was then that the turban headdress began to be adopted, and it was not until the Restoration period in France that coiffures became really charming again.
The narrow, high-waisted gown demanded a new style of hairdressing, so the natural curl bunched at the crown or temples or straying negligently down the shoulder accompanied a new smoothness over the brow. Alike in architecture, furniture, and dress, severity was the keynote of the day. And, in the early part of the nineteenth century, fashions also tended to be austere.
Lawrence's portraits of the beautiful
Fig 5. The Marchioness of Westminster as portrayed by Sir
Thomas Lawrence. This shows the most popular mode of hair dressing in vogue at the time of the Battle of Waterloo women of this epoch give a good idea of the new simplicity of coiffure. His portrait of the great Lady Blessington (Fig. 4) shows the total suppression of the curl, but she dared more than was common. His charming picture of the Marchioness of Westminster (Fig. 5) gives a juster idea of the prevailing fashions at the time of the Battle of Waterloo. Here we find little bunches of curls high up on the temples and a knot of some size upon the crown. This pretty fashion was destined to develop very highly, because the new headwear, the bonnet, made it necessary to dress the head upon these lines.
When one recalls the high crowns and wide enfolding brims of the old "coalscuttle" bonnet, one sees that the hair must go into the crown and nestle within seen on Etruscan vases. This style was very popular and widely
Fig. 6. A coiffure of the Regency, 1807, based upon the models adopted the brim, framing the face. The many extravagant styles which marked the first half of the nineteenth century all fit into this unchanging matrix of crown and brim.
What the Regency made of the Greek ideals is well exemplified by some of the contemporary fashion plates, of which one representing the year 1807, is illustrated (Fig. 6). These heads remind one of the Etruscan vases, and the portraits of the period are sufficient evidence that they really represented a style which was widely followed, although the wearers did not generally own the severely classic profiles which the fashion artist has drawn.