Fashion in Song – Mr. Poppleton’s Moustache – c. 1860

I can’t find a publication date for this c. 1860 comic song, but it was composed by English song writer and lyricist Henry Walker and published in London.











They say I should not sigh, and jocosely bid me try
To keep my spirits up, and not look blue;
But it’s very fine to talk when the heart is light as cork
Of patience under grief they never knew.
Matilda, whom I love all other girls above,
Has vow’d she only will become my bride
On cruel terms most harsh, that I shave off my moustache!
My only comfort, happiness, and pride.
On cruel terms most harsh, that my lov’d moustache
Shall fall a victim in its pride.

When it first began to grow, and its downy tufts to show,
How eagerly I watch’d each sprouting hair!
And anxiously did toil, with “circassian cream” and oil,
To gently coax it forth, with tend’rest care!
Thro’ all that time of dread when I fear’d ‘twas turning red,
I tended it with more than woman’s love,
And rose three times each night from my couch, and struck a light,
To note the slightest change all thoughts above.
Yea! watch’d it thro’ the night by the dim rush-light;
Its care, all other thoughts above.

When ‘twas long enough to twirl round my finger tips, and curl,
What sweet anxiety! What endless bliss!
Each taper end to trim till ‘twas glossy, spruce, and prim,
And ev’ry thing the fondest heart could wish.
It seems but yesterday, that I heard two ladies say,
Who pass’d me in the Park, in friendly chat,
“My dear, who can he be? Did you ever really see
Such a love of a moustache as that”!
They said, “who can he be? Did you ever see
Such a love of a moustache as that.”

But regrets alas! are vain! Tho’ to save it I would fain;
‘Tis doom’d a mournful sacrifice to fall,
In its beauty, and its pride; for she will not be denied;
I must woo her, closely shaved, or not at all…
So bring me water, hot, in the fatal shaving pot;
Bring razor, soap-dish, lather brush, and strop!
And ere I be unmann’d, let me nerve this trembling hand
My lov’d moustache: my beautiful! To crop.
Quick! Ere I be unmann’d, this ruthless hand,
My beautiful moustache must crop.

Oh, no! I dare not do it! I never could go thro’ it!
‘Tis too severe a trial, too great a cross!
No razor’s gripe shall clutch it! ‘Twere sacrilege to touch it!
What’s woman’s worth, compar’d to such a loss!
No, no, Matilda, no! You may go to Jericho,
Before I purchase you at such a price!
And all the world may perish, but my lov’d moustache I’ll cherish
For I fear its loss would kill me in a trice.
Tho’ all the world should perish, my moustache I’ll cherish,
For its value is beyond all price.

A recent recording of the song by Reginald Pikedevant:

Lipstick templates

lipstick-stencilThe first commercial lipsticks appeared on the market in the 1880s. While too much lipstick soon became associated with loose morals, many ‘nice girls’ dabbed lip colour sparingly onto their lips to achieve a healthier appearance.

Just as the fashion for stronger lip colour was taking off in 1915, the invention of metal, retractable lipstick tubes (made from bullet casings) made lipstick application an easier process. Previously, lip colour could only be applied at the dressing table, but now lipstick could be carried for touch-ups, although early lipsticks were prone to melting in hot weather.

In 1926 lip stencils were first made by cosmetics manufacturer Helena Rubinstein to ensure the flawless application of a heart-shaped “cupid’s bow” lip. Various improvements to these stencils over the years were fodder for patents:

Moustache fashion

Ant_304.1L.jpgBy the time I went back to my bookmarked page to purchase this 1904 Moustache trainer on Ruby Lane a few months ago, someone had snapped it up. Not that I avidly collect moustache related paraphernalia (I assume the buyer was a collector). The history of keeping moustaches in shape and out of food is an interesting one. as indicated by these Victorian era US patents for devices to keep lunch and moustaches well apart.

American creator of the Beehive hairdo Margaret Heldt 1918 – 2016

1465886335512In February 1960, the editor of Modern Beauty Shop magazine challenged Chicago hairdressing salon owner and hairstyling champion Margaret Heldt, to create a new hairstyle for the new decade. Taking inspiration from the shape of a favourite hat, Margaret backcombed a model’s hair, then wrapped it neatly on the top of the head in a beehive shape, finishing off the towering ‘do with a chenille bee and a lot of hairspray.

Michela Theresa Vinci, the daughter of Italian immigrants, was born February 11, 1918 on the West Side of Chicago. She passed her board exam in 1935 and won her first styling competition in 1944. In 1950 Margaret (as she preferred to be called) opened her own salon on Michigan Avenue in Chicago, which she ran until the 1990s. Margaret Heldt died June 10 2016.

Canadian Fashion Connection – False Eyelashes

Actress Lillian Gish claimed that DW Griffith had invented false eyelashes in 1916 when he had a pair made of human hair glued to a strip of gauze for actress Seena Owen to wear in his film Intolerance. That would be a nice story if it wasn’t for a Canadian woman from Ottawa by the name of Anna Taylor who received a U.S. patent in 1911 for artificial eyelashes. However, her patent for ‘improvements’ to artificial eyelashes suggests invention rights may have to be given to German-born Charles Nestle (Karl Nessler) who reportedly first made false eyelashes around the turn of the century.  Nestle is better know for inventing the permanent hair waving machine.

tiff:timestamp: 2000: 5:26 12:06:45

MUM – an odd museum

Kotex advert from 1921 - the first year the product was on the market

Kotex advertisement from 1921 – the first year the product was on the market

I came across the MUM museum by accident – aka The Museum of Menstruation. Every once in a while a donation of vintage underwear will come into the FHM collection and there will be an elastic belt, or an odd looking pair of panties and it takes a couple of seconds before I remember what these garments are.

I didn’t think there was that much to say on the topic of the history of menstruation, but one man in Washington D.C. thinks there is. He comes across as odd, like his collection, but he is as passionate about his collection of advertisements and odd undergarments as any collector. For more information on the topic than you thought were possible here is the museum’s website..

Big hair is racist?

Boston-MFA-racismI missed this story when it was in the news a month ago… The Boston Museum of Fine Arts had an interactive display where you could try on a reproduction of the kimono that appears in Monet’s 1875 picture ‘La Japonaise’, until some overly-sensitive politically correct watchdogs decided to protest in the galleries because they thought the activity was racist… HUH? It certainly can’t be the act of wearing a kimono, since around the time this painting was done by Monet, Japanese women were beginning to appropriate Western dress – and I don’t think anyone has ever suggested that was a form of Occidental racism.

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts cancelled the interactive display and APOLOGIZED to anyone who was offended. However, nobody should have, or needed to, apologize for Monet’s painting.

E7714CR-d1The match that ignited this brouhaha was an incorrectly worded interpretation by the curator who identified the model as Camille, Monet’s wife, and suggested she is wearing a blonde wig to “emphasize her Western identity”. Suddenly the painting became a statement about ‘us’ and ‘them’ and put the image into a category of racist art alongside minstrel shows. This is bullshit. Camille is likely wearing her own hair, not a wig, in a manner that could be considered Japanese, but that was a la mode in the early 1870s. Even if it wasn’t in fashion, putting her hair up in a Japanese manner is not the same as smearing burnt cork onto your face for a blackface routine.


Big Hairstyles in 1875


Japanese women in Western dress, c. 1887 – an act of Occidental racism?

Most hairstyles of the early-mid 1870s were influenced by Japanese and 18th century French styles of hair dressing – BIG hair was in. In fact everything Japanese was in fashion at the time – the entire late 19th century (and much of the early 20th century) was heavily influenced by Japanese styling, decorative motifs and colour palettes. Despite what any overly-sensitive protestor wants to whinge about, fashion is not about racism, it is about inspiration and appropriation. Fashion has historically looked to ethnographic dress: kimonos, saris, turbans, moccasins, sarongs, dirndls, clogs, parkas, and even tattoos for style inspiration in the past and it will continue to do so in the future.

The penny just dropped… I bet this was spurred on as a ‘me too’ to the corn-rowing discussion…