The Way We Were (1910-1920)March 1, 2007 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
The Dawn of the Advertising Age
From developments in salon furniture to happenings in the French fashion world, The American Hairdresser covered the major changes in the beauty biz between 1910 and 1920.
One hundred years ago, this magazine was called The American Hairdresser. Today, it's known as American Salon, but its mission is much the same as it was then: to keep hairdressers up to date on the latest and greatest innovations in the industry.
Between 1910 and 1920, salons and haircare companies in the United States were growing exponentially. At the same time, hundreds of never-seen-before products and hair accessories were hitting the market. All of these changes were documented in the magazine's pages. In particular, one notices the amount of coverage given to salon furniture. New adjustable chairs, mirrored styling stations and portable manicure tables were regularly advertised. Shampoo tables, upright gadgets that looked like music stands, were popular purchases in the early part of the decade. By the end of the decade, these stands were being replaced by sink basins.
Similar to today, the pages of the magazine were filled with advertisements for schools of all kinds. The Louisville School of Electrolysis and Dermatology promised an education that was "the best in the world at any price." The school offered instruction by mail on everything from skin diseases to salon management. In an era when more and more clients were beginning to demand educated professionals, schools such as these offered know-how and a "handsome, engraved sheet of parchment to hang on the wall."
Andrew's Famous Steel Rod Furniture was designed for use in massage, manicure and hairdressing parlors. Its claim to fame was the fact that it was clean and hygenic.
Of course, magazine editors were also trying to cultivate beauty professionals who had knowledge of trends and style. It was in this era that this magazine first gave significant attention to fashion trends. In 1911, the magazine published an article on the various uses of scarves. The piece instructed hairdressers on the latest ways to style hair using scarves, and on how to cover bad hairdos with them as well. Articles devoted to Paris fashion were also common during this era. It is here that we can see the integral connection between the burgeoning beauty industry and its finicky big sister, the fashion world.
Halliwell & Company's improved electric hair dryer, which revolved to the right and left
A state-of-the-art barber chair from Barker Specialties.
Deirdre Clemente is pursuing a Ph.D. in history at Carnegie-Mellon University. She specializes in American cultural history and the interplay between fashion and social change. For more information on her work, visit her Web site, deirdreclemente.com.
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