Historical Images

Hairstyles and Techniques

When the First World War ended in 1918 the world was set for many changes. Apart from political and geographical change, people’s attitudes and beliefs were also at a crossroads. Women wanted equal rights, and were determined to show they were not second class citizens and should have the same freedoms as men. Until this point, women traditionally wore long hair but as a show of rebellion and demand for change ” the flapper” was born.

When renowned Ballroom Dancer Irene Castle cut her hair short into a ”Bob” she triggered a hair revolution that would change the face of female hair styling forever.

The Bob

The Bob started as a non-gender hair cut for children. Girls would wear their hair with big bow and the ”boy’s version had to incorporate a much smaller bow, if at all, but the cut was exactly the same. The origins of the hair cut came from Austria and arrived in the United Kingdom in 1910, up until this point women still had their hair styled rather than cut, with the emphasis on crimping, curling and dyeing.

In 1909, from these humble origins Parisian hairdresser Antoine de Paris developed what became know today as the first recognised innovative cut.

Antoine was the first hairdresser to attempt the Bob on the women, in 1911 he bobbed the hair of actress Eve Lavalliere for the firm role in which she had to play the part of an 18-year-old, she was 45 at the time. His idea was to make her head look smaller with bangs (fringe) across her forehead.

However, the world at this time was not ready for the bob and in 1911 it caused a sensation, but with the end of the war i 1918, and the successful suffragette campaign giving women a voice in parliament and more equal rights in the work place, times where about to change.

Bobbed haircuts continued to dominate ladies hair fashion although taking on several different guises and individual styles like the Castle Bob named after Irene Castle who wore this style for convenience and unwittingly triggered a revolution that would shape 20th century hair fashion. This convenient cut was simply a ” blunt cut, level with the bottom of the ears all around the head. It was wore either with bangs or with the hair brushed off the forehead”.

By the 1920’s the shingle Bob become an even shorter version and cut closer to the head, with observers claiming it was hard to distinguish between boys and girls. This was ”tapered into a v- shape at the nape of the neck with either waves or split curls at the sides”. Film star Louise Brookes was one of the first to show this sharp sleek look.

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