Famous french hairstyles

Written by jennifer marlowe
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Famous french hairstyles
Credit the French for many popular hairstyles like the French twist and chignon. (shaping hair image by Kostyantyn Ivanyshen from Fotolia.com)

Study the history of world fashion and the impact of French style stands out. From Marie Antoinette to Bridget Bardot, the world emulates French coiffures. The origin of many haircuts and styles, like the bob, started in France. The bouffant, French twist and pompadour (named after Madame Pompadour) all started in France. While few women ask for Marie Antoinette's famous 3-foot-high "Belle Poule" style (complete with naval vessel), styles like the chignon continue to reign among the most classic hairstyles of all time.

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Marie Antoinette

Think of Marie Antoinette and, chances are, you envision really big hair. One of the more famous styles, called the "Belle Poule," involved weaving naval vessels into hair that reached 3 feet high. French women of means raised their hair with pomades and pads around 1760. Powdered wigs made of horsehair became popular during this Georgian period. Marie Antoinette took this trend to the hilt, often undergoing elaborate hairdressing rituals that lifted her hair several feet until the style reached towering proportions.

Bardot's French Twist

Flip through old magazines from the 1960s and images of French movie star Bridget Bardot surface. The legendary beauty wore her long, blonde hair down or teased high on top with a French twist in back. Bardot was defined, in part, by her sexy, somewhat unruly hair. Top fashion designers, like Vera Wang, continue to emulate Bardot's hairstyle on runways and advertisements. Start with volumizer spray when styling a Bridget Bardot French twist. Big rollers also add to the hair's fullness. Tease the hair high on the crown and use hairspray and pins to keep the hair lifted. Gather hair in back in a loose ponytail and twist. Hold the base of the ponytail firmly and fold the ponytail down onto itself until the tail is half the size. Twist the bended ponytail inward, until hidden, and pin in place.

The Bob

Credit the bob hairstyle to the French. From Joan of Arc to Coco Chanel, the bob gained a stronghold in the French countryside. Though women have worn short hair similar to the bob in centuries past, today's bob started during World War I. French nurses kept hair short for sanitary reasons and the trend gained momentum among French women. Irene Castle brought the style to the United States in the 1920s after spending years performing in Paris. Soon, the style was called the "Flapper Bob" because of its popularity among young women. Coco Chanel secured the bob hairstyle as a timeless classic by wearing the cut herself for decades.

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