Rodolphe Dogniaux: l’après-midi d’un peigne

Contemporary designer Rodolphe Dogniaux of Design Matin studied at the École Sainte-Geneviève in Paris, the National School of Applied Arts and Crafts, and the National School of Industrial Creation. After making a career as a freelance designer, he is trying to design the hamburger of the future and re-evaluate the French chestnut. (Sometimes, you just don’t ask why.)

In 2012, he was inspired by the Art Nouveau combs at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris. Once back home, he laid various jewelry elements on his work table and made some stunning pieces. They are untitled. Enjoy the psychedelic swirls, colored beads, and refrigerator magnets.

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For more scholarly research, please see our Research Library and these books:


Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective

500 Pendants & Lockets: Contemporary Interpretations of Classic Adornments

1000 Rings: Inspiring Adornments for the Hand (500 Series)
Posted in Contemporary Hair Comb, Rodolphe Dogniaux | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

AMNH Collection: Mangbetu Ivory Combs of the Belgian Congo

Ivory hair combs for the American Museum of Natural History were collected on a cultural expedition by Herbert Lang and James P. Chapin from 1909 to 1915.


James Chapin and a child, name unknown

They were made by the Mangbetu people, who lived in Panga and Medge, small villages in King Leopold II’s Congo Free State, which became the Belgian Congo in 1908. The Mangbetu were known for Lipombo’, the art of elongating heads, as this comb shows.

This comb features a grey crowned crane.

The Mangbetu were featured prominently in early photographs distributed to show Europeans how well people were doing under Leopold’s rule. The photographs, taken against false backgrounds and made into postcards, were propaganda to sell the mass quantities of ivory and rubber brought in on Belgian cargo ships. They also hid the fact that Leopold had turned the entire country into a slave labor camp, which killed 10,000,000 people.

Lang and Chapin’s field notes state that combs were made by men and often worn by women in the hollow of their hair dress, which can be seen from the back.

However, ivory hairpins are the most visible ornament in Mangbetu hair styles. These were collected from the Lang and Chapin expedition:

This lot of 17 hairpins sold at Sotheby’s for 8,400€ on September 7, 2013,

and this is how they were worn:


First picture: Warrior, Poko region, Congo, 1945

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If you would like to buy a contemporary Mangbetu wood comb, I am confident in recommending


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For more scholarly research please examine the AMNH Collection and these books


King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

African Reflections: Mangbetu Art

In and Out of Focus: Images from Central Africa, 1885-1960

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Victorian Hair Pins

Whether the hairstyle was divided into three or more parts, some short, others long; or, the hair was complexly braided at the back, Victorian women adorned their chignons with tortoiseshell combs and pins.

On top of the pins were fantastic gold creations of griffins with ruby eyes, silver so delicately woven it looked like lace, and diamonds. Sometimes the tortoiseshell was carved into flowers and intricate designs, allowing the different colors of the natural material to shade the art like a painter would use his or her brush. Other times, they were capped with gold and silver crowns.

This pin hails from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Two carved gold rings on top of a cap are set with diamonds, a sapphire and a ruby.

Carved gold tops decorate the fleur-de-lis shape of this dark tortoiseshell hair pin.

Just as silver is delicately woven into lace with diamond dots in this hair pin,

so The Creative Museum‘s hair pin has a circular foliage-like silver design.

More complex caps could set off jewels, such as in this hair pin with aquamarines

and these griffins with ruby eyes.

Or, the setting could be invisible to set off a delicate spray of pearls.

Any way you look at them, jeweled Victorian tortoiseshell hair pins were made in an astonishing array of variations.

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If you would like to buy an antique Victorian hair pin, I am confident in recommending these active E-Bay listings:





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For more scholarly research, please see our Resource Library and these books:


Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria

The Comb: Its History and Development

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design
Posted in Auction, E-Bay, English Hair Comb, Victorian Hair Comb, Victorian Hair Combs | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Presentation at the Creative Museum

I was honored to do it. Credit really goes to Catherine and Joel Olliveaud. This is my collection.

Cheers…

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For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and these books:


The Comb: Its History and Development

Le Peigne Dans Le Monde

Combs and Hair Accessories
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More Treasures from The Frances Wright Collection

Frances has been generous enough to share more of her treasures with us. The photographs were taken by her husband, Terry Wright.

This is a Romanov comb, the real thing. Faint now. It is tortoiseshell, with a gold, silver, and pearl heading and the mark of one of Faberge’s most famous designers. The original box, below, has a ruby on it. Compared to the Russian crown jewels, this comb is intimate. I imagine one of Nicholas and Alexandra’s daughters wearing it to tea.

The octagonal shagreen box has acanthus-leaf scrolling. In the middle is the Romanov crest with a ruby in the center.

A garland of enameled daises with faux citrines is hinged to a horn comb in this example. This modestly sized comb was made for a chignon at the back of the head, c. 1860.

The metal tiara is hinged to a horn comb, painted with dark blue and green enamel, and decorated with turquoise cabochons in this Art Nouveau comb. c. 1900.

A curved gilt silver band surrounded by small crystals is attached to a metal structure, which was engineered to hold 10 crystal spheres in place. The decoration sits atop a tortoiseshell comb. The piece comes in its original box with the retailer’s name, Cockburn and MacDonald, Edinburgh. c. 1860.

This is a beautiful Peigne d’Alger. A gilt silver tiara has openwork in the middle and holds three seed-pearl circles. Hanging on the bottom are two interlocking chains and three faux pearl pendants. The decoration is hinged to a horn comb. c. 1880.

This is a Huasheng (花胜), or floral hair ornament. It is worn in a chignon above the middle of the forehead. A lotus flower is the central subject. Stories about Huasheng go back to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 9 CE). The Book of Han, Vol 2, includes a biography of the Chinese poet Sima Xiangru, who wrote, “She lives in a cave, wearing Huasheng in her snow-white hair.” On Hunan Day, women give Huasheng as gifts, as scholars climb to elevations to compose poems. This kingfisher comb was made in the 19th Century, Qing Dynasty. The only comb I have ever seen of this quality was in 2009.

Thank you Frances and Terry for sharing these with us.

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For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and these books:


The Comb: Its History and Development

Le Peigne Dans Le Monde

Combs and Hair Accessories
Posted in Chinese Hair Comb, Edwardian Hair Comb, English Hair Comb, Frances Wright Collection, Han Dynasty, Huasheng, Qing Dynasty, Romanov comb, Russian Hair Comb, Victorian Hair Comb | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learning from the Creative Museum and Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

In quotes are comments from Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment by Truus Daalder. Reference numbers are in italics and specified at the bottom. The photographs and other writing come from the collection and scholarship of The Creative Museum. I thought it would be interesting to combine them. They crossed paths in China, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia.

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“It is in the hairstyles and head decorations that perhaps the greatest variety of shapes exist, and the Southern Chinese minorities are possibly second only to the Mongolians in the exuberance of their headwear, particularly during festivals. Girls preserve hair lost in combing to compose extra hairpieces to incorporate into elaborate coiffures.” (1)

The dots and circles on the bone tines of this comb from The Creative Museum were made using pyrography, a technique where decorations are burned into wood or bone using a heated object. It also has cotton threads, black and white glass beads and a huge red pom pom in the middle. Red is the color of good fortune in China. The comb belongs to the Yao people.

“In pre-historic times, most of present-day Indonesia was attached to mainland Southeast Asia… However, when the ice melted after the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago, low-lying land was covered by sea, and Indonesia turned into a country of thousands of islands… Over time, waves of migrants came to the Indonesian islands, particularly from mainland Southeast Asia.” (2)

The dugout-canoe shape of this striking, lacquered black-horn comb from the Creative Museum evokes the boat that brought ancestors from the south-east Asiatic continent to the Indonesian archipelago. It was made c. 1970.

“The mainland of Southeast Asia is the meeting place of many borders and many ethnic groups. Burma, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam share many of their borders with each other, and often share ethnic groups, as well.” (3)

Among the reasons for this are

  • During the Ming Dynasty, the Han Chinese pushed minority groups south, and many settled in Southeast Asia
  • Barbarian invasions from the North and Northwest pushed some Tai language speakers to Burma, Laos, and Thailand
  • In the 19th century, kingdoms, such as the Khmer in Cambodia, gained and lost power, and there was British and French colonial expansion. Both factors changed the borders within Southeast Asia
  • In 1949, minority groups who fought Communism fled China when Mao won, and fled Laos in 1975, when the Communists took over there
  • Borders were of little concern to ethnic groups who practiced slash-and-burn agriculture (4)

The pyramid-shaped hair pins from The Creative Museum are worn by Red Taï and Hmong women in Laos. Their hairstyles often took more than one pin to keep them in place.

Made in the early 20th Century, the long one has a pyramid shape and ornate filigree decorations. It is hollow with a lid and used as a tobacco container, a marriage between beauty and function. The shorter one is wood wrapped in silver.

“The last dynasty before a period of instability and finally the victory of Communism in 1949 was the Manchu Qing Dynasty, consisting of Manchurian invaders from the North, which ruled from 1644 – 1911… Coral, jade, and pearls were popular, and during the Qing Dynasty there was also a revival of kingfisher feather jewellery. This was so popular that the kingfisher bird with the brightest blue feathers was hunted to extinction” (5)

Showcasing this history, the last piece I will feature is The Creative Museum’s stunning Manchu hairpin. It has three dimensions. The first layer is made of branch coral, amber, jadeite, and kingfisher feathers. The second layer is a circle of small coral beads, strung in small heart shapes. The third has a kingfisher decoration at the center. The piece is shaped to form a flower and bring good luck to the wearer.

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For more scholarly research, please see the exhibits and publications of The Creative Museum. To order a copy of Chinese and Japanese Hair Ornaments, please write to contact@creative-museum.com. Payment can be made through Paypal.

Also, every collector must have


Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

References:
(1) Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment, by Truus Daalder, page 216
(2) Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment, by Truus Daalder, page 171
(3) Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment, by Truus Daalder, page 209
(4) Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment, by Truus Daalder, page 209
(5) Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment, by Truus Daalder, page 218

Posted in Chinese Hair Comb, Chinese Hair Pin, Creative Museum, Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment, hair comb, Han Dynasty, Hmong, Indonesian Hair Comb, Laotian Comb, Manchu hair pin, Red Tai, Truus Daalder | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alexandre de Paris Spring Collection, 2014

Spring is full of flowers, butterflies, Japanese fans, and a bird of paradise at Alexandre de Paris. The pieces mix layers of clear acetate with solid forms in different colors, decorated with rhinestones. Online, you see mostly black. In the stores, the limited-edition pieces are available in beige and pink.

The most complex and magnificent piece this year is this bird of paradise, as it is a mixture of solid acetate with rhinestones, geometric plumes, and feathers.

Another stunning piece is made up of three fans with butterfly decorations. Taking a Japanese theme, the first fan has one butterfly — a solid-acetate black center with white rhinestones backed up by two layers of clear acetate. On the second fan, to the left, you have the black butterfly upside down underneath a solid white butterfly, which has a touch of gold of the bottom right wing. The third fan at the back has the black and white butterflies juxtaposed.

My third favorite is this calla lily bandeaux. Beige outsides contrast with black rhinestoned insides, not exactly representative of the real flower, but very much in the French art deco tradition.

The roses and butterflies will come in many delightful spring colors this year.

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For more scholarly research, please examine these books:


The Comb: Its History and Development

Art Nouveau Belgium-France

Vogue: The Covers
Posted in Alexandre de Paris, French Hair Comb | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Frances Wright Collection

Many women practice their art secretly. Emily Dickinson had fewer than 12 poems published in her lifetime until her sister Lavinia discovered 1800 of them in a locked chest after she died. Jane Austen was first published anonymously.

Collecting is also an art. To do it well, you must have an encyclopedic knowledge of the culture, history, and, if signed, the artists who made objects of significance. Only then are you able to pick the best things, which are historically correct.

I know women comb collectors whose life commitment was total, scholarship voluminous, but who never published, photographed or catalogued their work. I do not feel alone in saying I’d like to change that. Therefore, it is a pleasure for me to present a few pieces from The Frances Wright Collection.

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Victorian England was sublimely influenced by foreign cultures. For example, the French conquest of Algeria between 1830 and 1847 sparked an interest in the Islamic art of North Africa. The Algerian knot, looped chains, tassels, and pendants started to appear in hair combs. Called the Peigne d’Alger, the style is also known as Victorian Algerian.

This comb has three metal flowers on the tiara, which are decorated with black beads. Three black-beaded pendants of different lengths hang beneath the middle flower. Dangling from the outer flowers are two tassels and two other pendants. The final pendant hangs from the middle tassel. The entire decoration is hinged to a horn comb.

This Peigne d’Alger has an open metal frame, which holds 5 faux pearls with a smaller one attached underneath. The three middle pearls are surrounded by tassels and circles of seed pearls. Connecting chains and pendants of individual pearls hang from the 5 pearls in the frame. What makes this balance is how the different sizes of pearls are mixed. This decoration is also attached to a horn comb.

When I first saw this Peigne d’Alger, I called it a waterfall of pearls. Five faux pearls are attached to each side of one metal horseshoe-shaped fitting. The end-stubs that hold them are a part of the design. A larger pearl sits on top. The decoration is hinged to a horn comb.

A brass frame with a bow in the center, two holes on the edges, and diagonal lines in the center supports a geometric design of cords with gold rings to hold them in place. In this Peigne d’Alger, the cords end in hinges, which go through the brass diagonal pieces. Small brass pendants dangle from them. On the bottom are three larger rock-crystal pendants. The frame is attached to a horn comb.

The Victorians loved sterling silver combs. This one, with flowers surrounded by garlands, dates to 1880.

Victorian tortoiseshell hair pins with gold tops were a frequent part of a woman’s wardrobe. However, finding one with a circular top is rare.

In France, Napoleon’s first queen, Josephine, was a jewelry innovator. Her style of back comb, which can also be worn as a tiara, is called a Peigne Josephine. It has a brass comb upon which multi-galleried decorations are attached. Coral was a favorite jewel, as were seed pearls.

This Peigne Josephine has 5 galleries: a line of seed pearls, metal mounted with seed pearls, another row of seed pearls, metal in a leaf pattern, and on top spirals of seed pearls. The pearls are wound on very thin wire, so the condition and is remarkable.

This French comb has meticulously painted porcelain medallions of courtly scenes on metal with three tassels, hinged to a horn comb. The medallions are reminiscent of 18th Century French furniture.

This comb is an Art Deco extravaganza. It is a celluloid comb made at the comb factories in Oyonnax, c. 1920. A small geometric pattern builds to diamond-shaped purple rhinestones to flowers to purple and orange arches at the top. Unbelievably, this is unsigned.

This American Civil War Era garnet tiara has a four-petaled flower, shouldered by two leaves, and is attached to a tortoiseshell comb. The leaf-stems in the middle are comprised of larger garnets. There are two 3/4 circular pieces, which I believe attach to the tiara. One can see hinges at the bottom of the leaves and on each piece. Quite unique.

I had never seen Chinese embroidered flower carvings inside an owl before this ivory hair pin. It is beautifully carved in the Cantonese tradition. The owl even stares back at you. c. 1890, made for export.

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For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and these books:


The Comb: Its History and Development

Combs and Hair Accessories

Hair Combs: Identification & Values
Posted in English Hair Comb, Frances Wright Collection, French Hair Comb | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Remarkable Headdresses of Grace Jones

Born in 1948 to a family of Apostolic Pentecostal clergymen and politicians, Grace Jones remembers the church pressuring her mother to withdraw from the Jamaican Olympic team. A cleric’s wife could not expose her legs in public.

When her parents went to the United States, Grace was left to be mocked for her skinny legs at school and whipped by her violently religious grandfather at home, “fftttt ffffttt… I guess I was six years old. I thought everybody had the same… I think the scary character comes from male authority within my religious family. They had that first, and subliminally I took that on. I was shit scared of them.”

Grace Jones’s metamorphosis came from the courage to unclothe herself from fear.


Grace Jones after graduating Syracuse University; Grace Jones photographed by Jean-Paul Goude in 1982.

Her headdresses balanced the proportions of her face, altered it, and for Grace, they were a symbol of rebellion. One could even say her most famous headdress was the angular way in which she cut her hair.

Here, Grace models an outfit for Malian designer Xuly Bët. He moved from his native Bamako to Paris and used flea-market finds to create original pieces with an African sensibility.

Grace Jones wore this headdress to perform at a musical gala on April 27, 2012 for amFAR, the Brazilian foundation for AIDS research. It was held at the home of Dinho Diniz.

At the Evita premiere in 1997, she wore this beautiful magenta scarf over a gold, beaded headdress and accompanied by a suite of jewelry.

How could Andy Warhol not have painted her?

But I think it was Robert Mapplethorpe who caught her with and without a mask. He photographed her in African-inspired body paint, conical wire breast plates, and a totem headdress in 1984. The photograph resides at the Tate Gallery.

And then he photographed her with no makeup at all. Mapplethorpe never wanted to do what anyone else did, so he found the scarred child and majestic woman Grace Jones had become. This photograph was taken in 1984. All she had to do was wear a scarf over her head, and her eyes told us everything.

Grace Jones just turned 64. “Will you still need me? Will you still feed me…”

Yes, we will. But in fact, we need you, and you feed us. Happy Birthday.

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For more scholarly research, please examine our Resource Library and


Island Life

Living My Life

Bulletproof Heart
Posted in Andy Warhol, Fashion, Grace Jones, Robert Mapplethorpe | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Auctions at Drouot: Art Nouveau Locusts — SOLD, for 141,000 euros

They jumped into history with no name.

The auction curators at Drouot had no idea who made these realistic plique-a-jour enamel locusts with diamond lines, set in gold, so they estimated their value at 6500 euros. In the description, Drouot wondered if the locusts were destined to adorn a hairstyle or ornament a corsage. Even though jewelry was made with different fittings in 1900, I think these are hair ornaments.

What stands out is the estimate, which highlights how much provenance is worth in the art world. Anyone could see these pieces were made by one of the master-jewelers of French Art Nouveau, and so bidders appropriately valued them at 141,000 euros.

Here is my guess as to who made them, and why they might have been unsigned.

Lucien Gaillard employed Japanese craftsmen in his workshop. One of them created the Blue Bird Comb, which sold for $218,500 on October 21, 2009. Gaillard didn’t make it, he just signed it.

The craftsman who did make it observed the arch of birds’ bodies as they dove in flight and made each bird a slightly different size. It was mastery of the Realism seen in Meiji kanazashi ornaments, not French Symbolism, which would elongate part of an object to make a philosophical point.

To me, these locusts look like those blue birds. They are exactly proportioned. The inlay and enamel work matches. I think they were made by the same Japanese craftsman in Gaillard’s workshop who made the Blue Bird comb. However, this time, Gaillard did not dare sign his employee’s work. The maker himself was not prominent enough to sign them, and so the author remains unknown.

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For more scholarly research, please examine the books Christie’s uses, which have been added to our Resource Library. They are both by Alastair Duncan.


Paris Salons 1895-1914: Jewellery, Vol. 1: The Designers A-K

The Paris Salons, 1895-1914: Jewellery, Vol. 2: The Designers L-Z
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