Mrs Reginald (Daisy) Fellowes – socialite, heiress to the Singer (sewing machine) fortune, and editor of Harper’s Bazaar Paris – was a noted fashionable figure frequently found in the pages of Vogue magazine. One of the magazine’s fashion editors, Bettina Ballard, called her “the most elegant and most talked-about woman in Paris.” She was the embodiment of ’30s chic but also bold in her tastes and her attitude, daring to pull off even the most extreme surrealist fashion statements by designer Elsa Schiaparelli. (Think monkey fur, lobster dress, and shoe hat – even Schiap’s Shocking Pink was created for her!)
In this 1935 photograph taken by Horst P. Horst for Vogue (who often used Tungsten lighting to heighten an image’s dramatic contrast and shadowy quality), Daisy dons a satin Mandarin dress by Schiap and an eerie and fantastic lacquered wig by Antoine de Paris.
Born Antoni Cierplikowski (1884-1976) in Poland, Antoine moved to Paris and became the celebrity hair stylist of the 1920s and ’30s. His clients included Josephine Baker, Claudette Colbert, Marlena Dietrich, Greta Garbo, and Elsa Schiaparelli. He eventuality set up 67 salons in places as far afield as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, London, and Melbourne.
Antoine is credited with trends such as the bob, tinting grey hair blue, and the white/blonde streaked forelock, but what I find most intriguing are these shellacked wigs worn as hats. 1. Just wow! It’s easy to see why Antoine became a “favorite of the Surrealists — Man Ray, Salvador Dali & Cocteau in particular — and his work certainly complemented the oneiric fillip the Surrealists managed to inveigle into every early 20th Century art-form & medium.” 2.
Man Ray took this photograph of Elsa wearing a lacquered Antoine wig around 1933.
“Antoine made me some fabulous wigs for evening and even pour le sport. I wore them in white, in silver, in red for the snow of St. Moritz, and would feel utterly unconscious of the stir they created. Antoine was…certainly the most progressive and the most enterprising coiffeur of these times. I wore these wigs with the plainest of dresses so that they became a part of the dress and not an oddity.” 3. ~ Elsa Schiaparelli
In her essay, “The Arc of Modernity: 1930s Couture from Paris to Shanghai,” from the exhibition’s accompanying book, Elegance in an Age of Crisis, from Yale University Press, Patrica Mears discusses the trend for reflective materials, even for hair, quoting the historian Anne Hollander.
“White gold and platinum came into vogue for jewelry and for hair, draped lamé and sequined satin offered rivulets of light to the eye as they flowed and slithered over the shifting flanks and thighs of Garbo, Dietrich, Harlow, and Lombard.” 4.
Given the appeal of hi-gloss and shine, it’s not surprising then to see Antoine’s lacquered treatment of hair and wigs.
Until next time, join us in conversation on Twitter with #1930sFashion.
1. Mary Louise Roberts, “Samson and Delilah Revisited: The Politics of Women’s Fashion in 1920s France,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 3 (Jun., 1993): pp. 657-684.
2. deep space daguerreotype
3. Andrew Bolton and Harold Koda, Schiaparelli & Prada: Impossible Conversations, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012: page 50.
4. Anne Hollander, Seeing Through Clothes, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1993: p. 343.