|A Brief History of Hairdressing|
It is said that hairdressers have always walked among kings and commoners alike, so diverse was the role of the first hairdressers. Early barbers doubled as dentists and surgeons - their red and white striped pole represented their practice of bloodletting. Men would gather in barbers' salons to receive a shave, discuss world affairs and exchange daily news.
In ancient Greece and Rome barbers were revered for their skill and the clean-shaven look was very much to be desired. Barbarians had scruffy beards that could be grabbed by the enemy thus bringing about their downfall; and Alexander the Great apparently ordered his men to shave so that they did not suffer such ignominy. In 1096 French barbers joined together to form an official association of barber-surgeons following a degree by an archbishop outlawing beards.
This was the beginning of a period of growing respect for barbers. Because medicine was developing as a separate field, barbers were given a certain academic status of their own as 'surgeons of the short robe' and received teaching in special schools set up for their instruction. In London, the Worshipful Company of Barbers was founded in 1308. Within 200 years, barbers were being accepted into the University of Paris and they enjoyed their professional and academic status until well into the eighteenth century.
But what about women during all this time? While their men folk were visiting barbers, their hair was being dressed in the home and being kept neat and tidy by braiding and twisting and often kept in place under some form of headgear. The seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in France saw the age of the elaborate wig and both men and women sought the services of skilled wig-makers who designed ever more elaborate and expensive headwear.
By the turn of the nineteenth century, this taste for sophisticated and highly structured wigs was on the decline, partly due to a tax on hair powder! Once again ladies and their maids took responsibility for their own hairdressing. And in the twentieth century, hairdressing salons arrived and women everywhere were happy to frequent them and let others wash, cut and dress their hair in the latest styles.
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|Last Updated on Sunday, 18 July 2010 16:28|