13 June 2024

Coiffure Legendaire: from the Medieval Dispersion to the Renaissance

With the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was ruled by ecclesiastical powers, whom influenced very much, the hairstyles of the time.

Long perfumed hair, had strong erotic connotations of a sensual woman and because of that, women of the 9th and 10th centuries, hid their hair under long veils and removed their eyebrows and forehead hair, which left the illusion of having no hair.

Years later, the hair loss of Isabella of Bavaria started the ‘hennin look’, which was a pointed and large hood to hide hair while styling the face. In those days, Joan of Arc introduced the ‘coupe à l’écuelle’ also known as ‘caracalla’, a type of cut which was done by placing a pot or a similar utensil on the head and trimming excess hair, pageboy style. Men wore their hair long, and in plain sight, since it was a symbol of manliness and freedom, in contrast to the widely known Clerical Tonsure, that represented the precious head of the chief-apostle Peter.

With the Renaissance, the worship of personal beauty, as one of the values of the Classical period returned. The beautiful and exquisite Renaissance hairstyles were inspired by the Italian painters of the time: Botticelli, Giotto, Mantegna, Tintoretto, Michaelangelo, Raphael, Da Vinci… from where arose the arabesques, the refined hairstyles and floating hair ornamentation based on grids, crowns and jewels so in vogue at the time.

Blonde returned with fury in his Venetian mode, Donna Angelicata. The feminine ideal of beauty sung by the poets of the 16th century was a blonde angel. Women lightened the tone of hair with ashes of vines, coal, lime, licorice, wood sheet… They even stayed out in the sun, to get a more intense blonde.


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