Wednesday, 16 January 2019

L'Herisson - the Hedgehog

"Imagine, if you can, a hedgehog lying on top of my lady's head, and, what is more, considered to be beautiful!"

These words give both a clear indication of the "hedgehog" as well how ridiculous some of the ladies of Versailles found it (according to Joyce Konzelman at least)

Léonard invented a great deal of coiffures during his reign as one of Versailles' foremost hairdressers. One of them was nicknamed "the hedgehog" or l'herisson. The name was derived from the abundance of curls that made up the hairdo. Curls upon curls were piled on top of each other in tiers; some curls were left to fall freely against the back of the neck. To keep the entire structure from falling, an abundance of hairpins were needed. Finally, the locks could be powdered (however, this was not a must) and a ribbon would be tied around the entire concoction.


The Princesse de Lamballe, 1789, sporting a
l'herisson


This particular hairstyle can only have been hard on the natural hair of the wearer. To achieve the desired "spikes" - curls - the hair would have to be frizzed, warmed and curled. Some sources places the number of tiers at three but that number could be added to if so desired. As if a three-tier hairstyle was not intimidating enough a cap could be added at the very top - one can only imagine that a stepping stool must have been needed to place it there!

Léonard first created this style for Marie Antoinette but she was quickly copied by her ladies. One of her imitators was the Princesse de Lamballe who could not resist intertwining a few artificial flowers into her tower of tangles. She would even appear in a portrait of 1788 wearing the hairstyle. Considering that the style first saw the day of light 1778, it can be said to be one of the more persisting styles of the day.

Some chose to dial it down a notch which saw the rise of the "half-hedgehog". The entire concept was to introduce something new and different from the towering hairstyles that had dominated the years from 1773-78. Thus, a "half-hedgehog" was considered short in comparison.

Both men and women could style their hair à l'herisson. The male version included the same mass of curls but the back featured a pigtail in the back.

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