Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bob blogs

Within the last week, there have been a number of newspaper articles and on-line blogs about the bob. Apparently, as some are claiming, the hairstyle worn by Louise Brooks and numerous others in the early decades of the 20th century is celebrating its 100th anniversary. According to "What's the Story with . . . the Bob," an article in today's British Herald newspaper, the cut wascreated in 1909 by Polish-born French hair stylist  Antoine de Paris. I hadn't known that. Fashion historian Christy Pascoe once told me that the American dancer Irene Castle deserves the credit - as she helped popularize short hair for women during the teens. During the 1920's, the popular screen star Colleen Moore (see link) sported a bob. It was part of her look, and it looked great on her.

Louise Brooks, of course, wore her hair short most all of her life. From the time she was a little girl, as images of the actress show, Brooks sported a bob - or Buster Brown type cut. It was not an uncommon cut for little girls. Years later, the famous stylist Sydney Guilaroff claimed to have given Brooks her signature look. "He gave her that trademark hairstyle (which became known as a shingle) at the grand cost of $1.50, which, he states in his autobiography ' was quite expensive for those days.' " That according to a 1996 article by Robert Osborne in the Hollywood Reporter.

I mention all of this because of the numerous recent articles and blogs about the bob - which also mention Louise Brooks. In "The Bob is 100 years Old," LOOK (from England) proclaimed "One of the first celebs to make the bob truly her own was actress Louise Brooks, who sported the style in '20s. Since then, the style has evolved through the ages - the latest reinvention of which has to be Victoria Beckham's Pob!"  A google news search on "Louise Brooks" will turn up additional results. Articles mentioning the bob and the actress recently ran in the Courier Mailfrom Australia and the Telegraph in England. Brooks is mentioned and prominently pictured in both pieces. Also, there is an excellent article in the Independent. And again, Brooks is prominent. 

And thus is history written.

There are many who claim the bob as a Louise Brooks invention. She didn't create the cut, and really can't be credited with helping popularize it. Certainly, in her day, she was identified with the bob - in all of its stylistic varieties. I have come across numerous instances of articles from the 1920's remarking on the appearance of the actress, especially her trademark hairstyle. And today - ever since the late 1980's - that look has come to be identified almost exclusively with the actress.

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