Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Never before, like in the nineteenth century, was so demonstrated that the hair may be the outward expression of our thoughts. In the first half of the century, the literary movement, which later would become a way of thinking, was the Romanticism. This word is more related with a philosophical tendency than with a love feeling. It was the complete opposition to the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment; the other extreme of the logical rationalism of the 18th century. Romantic literature is fantastic, ideal, far from the everyday reality. The eighteenth century's rationalism believed in a world driven by mechanical laws into a universe what they thought was a smooth running machine; in an artificial life concentrated in cities; they felt that they were living in the best of all possible worlds. Romanticism discovers mystery everywhere; is irrational, conflicted and dubitative; it prefers the solitude, the melancholy of nostalgic feelings; it prefers the Nature and the release of social structures. The supreme authority will not more be the Reason, but, instead, the individual imagination. And the hair, in the first half of the century, was that way: disordered, dry, natural, with no artificial products, with no ostentation; an expression of the sense of individual freedom and a suggestion of "not-belonging" to anything previously uniformed. From the classical models of the Greek aesthetic, at the end of the 18th century, they jumped to an encounter with the medieval aesthetic. Romanticism accepts with more pleasure the mysteries of the obscurantism than the rationalist explanations of the Enlightenment. In the first years of the 19th century men wore this kind of "open-mind" hairstyle, and beards and moustaches were rarely seen.

George Bryan Brummell was a real "dandy" of the 19th century. He was born in London in 1778 and died at his 61 years of age in Caen, France. He was the dictator of men's fashion in the British Regency court and for all the English society. He established the use of men's tailored suits with W collar and ties, worn by everybody today. His complete style, his hair, his clothes, manners and behavior were copied by every Englishmen at that time. It was also copied his habit of bathing, cleaning his teeth and shaving every day. He used to bath his body in milk, like the Egyptian queen Cleopatra. He broke with all the eccentricity inherited from the former century and favorite a style of plain, sober and elegant colors. He used to say that he had the art of being "conspicuously inconspicuous". He delayed five hours dressing before leaving outside. He was a personal friend of the Prince of Wales, who later was the king George IV. Brummell made of his "dandyism" the profession of his life. Unfortunately he threw away a fortune, spending and gambling. Ruined, and leaving England with his creditors behind, he immigrated to France in 1837, where he was living until his death in 1840, impoverished and helped by a modest annual salary provided by his friends from England.

Women hairstyle was, at the times of the Napoleonic Empire, which coincided with the Georgian and the Regency in Great Britain, -the first decade of the century-, a neo-classic style inspired in the Ancient Greece hairstyles. This style was characterized by using curls on the forehead and above the ears, and the hair held with a knot or a chignon at the back of the neck; hairstyles were usually adorned with ribbons, head bands or diadems. Near 1820 they started to wear the hair parted in the center and pulled back smoothly toward the back. At this time every woman wore a hat or a bonnet in public places. Those hairstyles were also called "Jane Austen's hairstyles", because of the diffusion that her stories have had, like the famous "Pride and Prejudice" from 1813. 
Around 1835 women hairstyles became a little more elaborate and men started to use beard and moustaches again.

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