Monthly Archives: January 2014

Bandeaux in The Great Gatsby and Downton Abbey

It was a time when no one thought the party would end. The First World War was over, women had gotten the vote, cars replaced horses, Chanel threw away the corset, hemlines rose, and white people discovered jazz.

To bob or not to bob, that was the question. Opera singer Mary Garden said, “I did it because I wanted to. I found it easier to take care of. I felt freer without long, entangling tresses. It typified a progressive step, in keeping with the inner spirit that animates my whole existence.”

Women with bobbed haircuts wore bandeaux across their foreheads, as their short curls underneath completed the look. The jewels were small, making a lightweight headdress that also liberated women from the heavy, large-jeweled, complex tiaras of the 19th Century.

Some women wore them just above their bangs, as in this example of Carey Mulligan wearing a bandeau Tiffany & Co. designed for the 2013 movie version of The Great Gatsby.

Here is the bandeau itself. There is a detachable brooch decorating the side, while ribbons attach it to the hair style.

Alexandre de Paris made a Gatsby-inspired bandeau in acrylics and rhinestones as part of its Christmas collection.

Coco Chanel, of course, designed something original: diamond bangs as a bandeau for women whose bob haircuts didn’t include them. This is the original piece from her famous 1932 jewelry collection, which she presented in her Paris apartment,

…and here is a dress she designed in 1927, which would look fabulous with it.

Seeing this combination moves my thoughts to Lady Rose MacClare of Downton Abbey.
In her bandeaux and Chanel-inspired dresses, she encapsulates the colossal vitality of unlimited expectations.

Here she is in Season 4 wearing the dress for her coming out ball. Accompanying it is a bandeau edged by two aquamarines and a feathered headdress.

I am glad the world had this fleeting decade of happiness in between the two World Wars, with its style and elation eternally preserved.


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

Chanel and Her World

Art Deco Hair: Hairstyles of the 1920s and 1930s

Tiffany’s 20th Century: A Portrait of American Style

The Great Gatsby

Masterpiece: Downton Abbey Complete Seasons 1, 2, & 3 DVD Set (Original U.K. Edition)

Downton Abbey “Gilded Age Boxed” Gold-Tone Edwardian Statement Center Baguette Pendant Necklace, 16″

Hairdressing as Language: Exhibit at the Musée Dapper

The Musée Dapper in Paris was realized by the efforts of the Olfert Dapper Foundation. Dapper was a Dutch historian whose most famous book, Description of Africa (1688), wove geography, economics, politics, medicine, social life and customs. Free of ethnocentric judgments, it remains an indispensable resource for historians.

The museum’s current exhibition, “Initiés, Bassin du Congo,” features 100 works that explore the link between hairdressing in traditional African societies and initiation rites, such as birth, adolescence, marriage, and death. Jean- Paul Notué writes the exhibition catalog, “A hairstyle is an act of socialization and metamorphosis that permits a person to relay their history, social rank, and cultural identity.”

The works on display are architectural, strong, and iconic — an expression of tribal identities that have endured war, political upheaval, and commercialism. You can see many of the museum’s headdresses in this video.

This dramatic headdress belongs to the Lega People, one of the ethnic groups of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The cap was made from fibers of human hair, with a shell decoration in the middle, and buttons decorating the front and strap.

This crest mask is from the Ejagham tribe of Northern Cameroon. Made of one piece of wood, the mask also uses untanned antelope skin, straw, and pigments. It is dated 1928 and was borrowed from the State Museum for Ethnology in Munich.

There is also an installation by contemporary German-Kenyan artist Ingrid Mwangi, who says, “Our own soul immediately plunges the viewer into the heart of the matter: the meaningful content of the hairstyle.”


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

Ethnic Jewellery and Adornment

African Masks: From the Barbier-Mueller Collection

Powerful Headdresses: Africa and Asia