V50: 18th Century Hair of Tall Ships

One of the iconic images we first associate with fashion of the 18th century is the Hair Ship, the tiny galleon perched atop a massive coif of curls.

Where did this come from?

In the 1770s, women went berzerk for the creations of Rose Bertin and Leonard – the stylist and hair dresser to Marie Antoinette.  The most outlandish of Leonard’s intricate hairstylings featured little vignettes happening throughout the hair – you may be familiar with bird cages in the hair, little villages perhaps.  The bigger, more narrative, more complex the headdress, the better.

Leonard’s poufs were also a way for ladies to celebrate or commemorate current events.  In the case of Marie Antoinette’s ship, she was celebrating the victory of the French frigate Belle Poule over the British, in 1778.

No doubt more hair ships followed, as Marie Antoinette’s styles were copied religiously, but the Queen never wore her pouf a la Belle Poule again … that was so 1778.

Source: Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution
This book is fabulous.  I highly recommend it!


    • Lauren R

      February 20, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      Love it! Is the ship lightweight? I haven't tried a ship-in-the-hair yet either, but I'm thinking a couple big, strong alligator clips should keep it secure, if it's lightweight enough.

      To the craft store!

    • Isis

      February 21, 2012 at 7:24 PM

      A woman in my 18th century society had a ship in her hair a couple of years ago. Very impressive, but I have no idea how she did it.

  • KittyKatt

    February 20, 2012 at 12:39 AM

    I read what was available on Amazon of the teaser for the book describing Marie Antoinette's engagement and eventual marriage and their relation to fashion and poltics. Fascinating stuff! I have never fancied myself a follower of 18th century couturie, but now I'm tempted to take a detour and do some more research…

    • Lauren R

      February 20, 2012 at 9:58 PM

      I had my doubts about the book, too, but it's really engrossing. I think you will like it, even if 18th c. costuming isn't your main focus.

    • Lauren R

      February 20, 2012 at 9:57 PM

      YES! Oh that is so awesome. The craft store totally has little horses to add into the hair, as well as tiny ships 🙂

      And how great would it be to put a model car in your hair? I think that would be HILARIOUS

  • Kristin

    February 21, 2012 at 12:52 AM

    Weeeeelllllll, in my circle I couldn't get away with it, but it would be pretty cool!

    I collect (well, used to collect) model horses, so I already have a variety of them in my possession–I just need to find a stable and some astro turf and I'll be all set!

  • Unknown

    May 25, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    I was wandering if there is a painting of a woman with a bird cage in her hair? I just read 'Queen of fashion' but I didn't find something about bird cages in the hair. Where have you read it?
    Thank you for a lovely blog!



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