Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Fontange Hairstyle

This particular hairstyle was named after one of Louis XIV's mistresses, the Duchesse de Fontagne. It is also known as the "frelange". It became popular in the 1680's and was in fashion both in France and in England. Like every other element in fashion this evolved from the moment it became popular. At first it was merely a simply arrangement of curls at the top of the head gathered by ribbons (anyone who has ever tried to tie their hair with ribbons know of difficult this is). The story goes that Madame de Fontange was out hunting when her hairdo was suddenly ruined and since loose hair was not permitted she quickly gathered her hair with a ribbon from her dress.
Later it became taller and far more elaborate curling were all the rage. To make the hairdo even higher the hair was often tied around a wire "cap" placed on top of the head and often false curls were added - sometimes made of horsehair. Also, it was custom to wear a trimmed linen cap with this hairdo which consequently also became known as the "Fontange". Actually you might say that this is the similar endeavour to create as high a hair silhouette as possible just like Marie Antoinette would do a century later. There was an annoying problem with this fashion however. As the height of the hair grew it became more and more difficult to keep the pile of hair stable and it would often slide off to one side. This resulted in an extreme use of starch and even more wire to keep it in place.

One of the "sub-categories" of this fashion was the Fontange à la Sultane where a veil would be worn from the great height of the hair. Some women had two curly locks hanging on each side of the head.

Queen Mary II of England
This is a fontange à la sultane
Fontange of 1713

Different variations

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