Hirsuit. Point and shoot!
Fashions for male facial hair wax and wane over time.
Our photograph collection contains some stunning examples of marvellous moustaches, brilliant beards and mind-blowing mutton chops. It appears the wearers of these facial adornments were only too happy to pose for the occasional portrait, so we’d like to share some of those images with you.
FACES, FASHION AND TECHNOLOGY
The word 'moustache' first appears in England via a translation of the French book, 'The navigations, peregrinations and voyages, made into Turkie'
Jean-Jacques Perret writes 'The Art of Learning to Shave Oneself'. Around the same time, the Perret razor is invented - with its wooden guard, this blade is seen as a step towards the invention of the modern safety razor.
During the Napoleonic wars, British soldiers were inspired to copy their French rivals ‘appurtenances of terror’. Meanwhile, in India, where facial hair was considered a sign of wisdom and virility, British colonisers were adopting the look.
Not quite a safety razor, but going in the right direction, William S Henson's double-edged safety blade resembled a garden hoe, but enabled the unskilled user to give themselves a close shave.
Charles Dickens publishes a beard manifesto, 'Why Shave?' in his magazine 'Household Words'.
'the picture of real fighting men……They all had their long beards and were heavily laden with large knapsack’., wrote Queen Victoria of returning troops from the Crimea in her diary on 13 March.
The Kampfe brothers patent a 'Safety Razor'.
Shaving beards in hospital becomes the norm as facial hair loses favour due to a belief it harbours dirt and germs.
King Camp Gillette, helped by Profesor William Nickerson, develop a safety razor compatible with replaceable blades.
Jacob Schick invents the first electric razor called the ‘Magazine Repeating Razor,’ since it was based on the design of repeating firearms.
Clark Gable's pencil thin moustache in 'Gone With the Wind' sets a trend for upper lip fashion.
Blades start being made from stainless steel, allowing them to be used for multiple shaves.
Gillette invent cartridge razors, the most common kind of razor in use today.
BIC make the inexpensive disposable razor.
Soldiers were returning from the Crimean War in the mid 1850s with large beards, much to the delight of Queen Victoria who noted admiringly in her diary on 13 March 1856 that they were ‘the picture of real fighting men.’
Two years earlier it had been declared that troops of the East India Company must sport a moustache. Combined with Charles Dicken’s devotion to the beard; he’d written his manifesto, ‘Why Shave’ in 1853, it’s no wonder the portraits of soldiers serving with the regiment in the mid to late Victorian period are particularly hirsuit.
Lt Col Mundy, about 1898.
Lt Col Munro, about 1898.
General O’Grady Haly, about 1898.
It was mandatory to ‘wear’ a moustache in the British Army between 1860 and 1916.
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