A Brief History of The Pompadour

The pompadour is a hairstyle named for Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), “official” mistress of King Louis XV. After its initial popularity among fashionable women in the 18th century, the style was revived as part of the Gibson Girl look (`satirical pen-and-ink illustrations by an illustrator of the same name) in the 1890s  and continued to be in vogue until World War I. The style was in popular for women once again in the 1940s.

The men’s version, as worn by early rock and roll stars such as Elvis Presley, was popular in the late 1950s. Variations of the pompadour style continue to be worn by men and women in the 21st century.

Women’s Version

For women, the hairstyle has become popular again in the first years of the 21st century. It can be created by matting the roots at the top of the head – the front hair is then combed up and over the ratted hair, off the forehead, the front up in a curl straight back, and the sides pulled back towards the center at the back.

In Japan, the Punch perm combines elements of the afro hairstyle and the traditional pompadour. This hairstyle is stereotypically worn by less reputable members of society, including the yakuza, bōsōzoku and chinpira (street thugs).

Often many hair-care products are employed in the creation of a pompadour. Commonly seen are wax and gel pomades, held in high regard for their durability. Sometimes they are created solely with the use of hair spray, hair gel, or even hair glue.

Men’s Version

The pompadour was a fashion trend in the 1950s among male rockabilly artists/actors. In recent years the pompadour hair style has been adopted by those enamoured with vintage culture of the late 1950s and early 1960s that includes hot rods and rockabilly bands.

This style has also become popular among Italian Americans and the “goombah” or “Guido” subculture. The style is often parodied in shows like The Sopranos . Many Mexican Americans in the “Greaser” subculture also sport pompadours.

In modern Japanese popular culture, the pompadour is a stereotypical hairstyle often worn by gang members, thugs, members of the yakuza and its junior counterpart bōsōzoku, and other similar groups such as the yankii (high-school hoodlums). In Japan the style is known as the “Regent” hairstyle, and is often caricatured in various forms of entertainment media such as anime, manga, television, and music videos.



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