STRANDS OF THE SIXTIES: A Cultural Analysis of the Design and Consumption of the New London West End Hair Salons c. 1954-1975

Kim Smith
2014
This thesis is a study of the under-researched subject of British hairdressing, focussing on the growth of London's West End hair salons from 1954 to 1975. It challenges dominant historical accounts that have focussed on Paris and examines developments in London, leading to its centrality as a centre for hairdressing creativity in the 1960s. It culturally contextualises these shifts in the consumption of hair dressing in Britain from 1954 to 1975 by analysing the leading trade paper, the
more » ... e paper, the Hairdressers' Journal signalling how salon design and management, and hair dressing's fashionable consumption during this era related to wider socio-economic and cultural developments. This study is divided into four chapters. Chapter One examines the emergence of the public ladies' hair salon in the late nineteenth century and the developments in its interior design up to 1950s evaluating the hair salon as a gendered public space in Mayfair, the heart of elite West End hairdressing. Chapter Two explains why Mayfair became established as a place of luxury and elitism and how this was manifest in the style of the salons and hairdressing performed there and through its perception as such in British provinces. Chapter Three identifies the major innovations in cutting and colouring techniques which elevated London to its position as a world leader in these practices. Furthermore, Black hairdressing and its professionalization as a result of mass-immigration, is analysed. Chapter Four investigates why smaller, intimate spaces including hair salons attracted fashionable youth audiences and it examines the salon's suitability as economically viable entrepreneurial space aimed at young consumers. It contends that economic changes coupled with more informal social attitudes led to the formation of unisex salons. My conclusion argues that these developments in British hairdressing and hair salon design from 1954 to 1975 evidence an important transitional moment in hairdressing history and in its consumption. It mai [...]
doi:10.15123/pub.4622 fatcat:grxso4yw3rcwfdrc4g3vncdpnu