33 thoughts on “How Contemporary Hairstyles Affect Historical Costume Movies: The 1960s part 1

  1. Sophia Loren of course is beautiful no matter how her hair is done. In Thousand Days after Anne sleeps with Henry she puts her hair up, a nice touch.
    Recently I found a sixteen century portrait of a woman wearing a French hood’s billiment over loose flowing hair. Going by the gown it dates from the later 16th century when fashionable women were showing more hair under small decorative headresses but usually up. My guess would be that the flowing hair was symbolic and wouldn’t have been worn so in Real Life.

    1. Is that image online anywhere? If so, please post a link. If not, do give any info you can about where/who/what it is!

      1. Found it! It’s a sixteenth century portrait of an Italian lady. It’s on writingren.blogspot.com/202 a site called Writing the Renaissance

    2. Also, medieval queens sometimes got to do Long Flowing Hair for special occasions because, you know, QUEENS! It was recorded somewhere that Anne Boleyn went to her coronation practically sitting in her unbound hair. I believe brides were also allowed to wear their hair down and decked in rosemary, symbolizing fertility.

  2. The wrapped braid + cap combination Juliet has is definitely something you see in 15th-century Italian portraits. (And the movie does pretty clearly seem to be set in the 15th century and not the 14th.)

    You can see the same hairstyle depicted very well/clearly in this 1490s drawing, which may or may not be by Leonardo da Vinci: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Bella_Principessa

  3. I really don’t think 5th-century Britain is relevant to costuming anything about King Arthur (unless of course you’re going for the ‘The Truth behind the Legend, the way Antoine Fuqua in 2004 claimed to do, but didn’t). The legends as we know them are late medieval fantasies – Camelot specifically references Malory – and it would be absolutely absurd to costume them in Migration Period clobber. 14th/15th-century, with or without a touch of fantasy, is really the only way to go.

    1. Fair point – Arthuriana generally falls into the “set in the High/Late Middle Ages of the specific source material”, like Perceval le Gallois (1978) or Excalibur (1981), or in Sub-Roman Britain, like Arthur of the Britons (1972) or King Arthur (2004) (how’s that for a laugh?). So Late Middle Ages might be a better comparison for Camelot – though I’d argue it wouldn’t come out looking better. Especially the… “armour”.

      Then again, I’ve mentioned in other discussions online some of the odd implications of directly interpreting Sir Thomas Malory. He features both the Western Roman Empire and heavy cannon (i.e. culverin) in the same book:

      “𝚃𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚠𝚑𝚎𝚗 𝚂𝚒𝚛 𝙼𝚘𝚛𝚍𝚛𝚎𝚍 𝚠𝚒𝚜𝚝 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚞𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚝𝚘𝚘𝚍 𝚑𝚘𝚠 𝚑𝚎 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚋𝚎𝚐𝚞𝚒𝚕𝚎𝚍, 𝚑𝚎 𝚠𝚊𝚜 𝚙𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚠𝚛𝚘𝚝𝚑 𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚘𝚏 𝚖𝚎𝚊𝚜𝚞𝚛𝚎. 𝙰𝚗𝚍 𝚊 𝚜𝚑𝚘𝚛𝚝 𝚝𝚊𝚕𝚎 𝚏𝚘𝚛 𝚝𝚘 𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚎, 𝚑𝚎 𝚠𝚎𝚗𝚝 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚕𝚊𝚒𝚍 𝚊 𝚖𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝𝚢 𝚜𝚒𝚎𝚐𝚎 𝚊𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚃𝚘𝚠𝚎𝚛 𝚘𝚏 𝙻𝚘𝚗𝚍𝚘𝚗, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚖𝚊𝚍𝚎 𝚖𝚊𝚗𝚢 𝚐𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝 𝚊𝚜𝚜𝚊𝚞𝚕𝚝𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚝𝚑𝚛𝚎𝚠 𝚖𝚊𝚗𝚢 𝚐𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝 𝚎𝚗𝚐𝚒𝚗𝚎𝚜 𝚞𝚗𝚝𝚘 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖, 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚜𝚑𝚘𝚝 𝚐𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝 𝚐𝚞𝚗𝚜.”
      Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XXI, Chapter I

      Siege cannon in a King Arthur movie? That would really throw some audiences for a loop, haha.

  4. And on the 6th day, God created Man with fingered, tousled hair, and called him Adam.

    God also created Woman, and gave her a crappy, frizzy wig that God found in a garage sale that was at least ten years old, and called her Eve.

    Eve was angry that God thought so very little of her and gave Adam way better hair. So Eve, in defiance of her Creator that clearly favoured Adam, started breaking rules. Like talking to snakes that were symbols of Goddesses from earlier eras. This made God angry. Especially as He was hoping no one would know that snakes were a symbol of feminine knowledge and wisdom.

    ….so if God had given Eve better hair (or at least — not a crappy wig), history would be much different.

    That’s what this post is about…. right? Better hair? Well, at least we now know it was God’s fault after all. lol

    1. It’s a good thing my husband wasn’t home when I read this – I laughed so hard, he’d have had me locked up!

    2. I suspect that god also gave Adam his special stash of gel, while Eve didn’t even have a nickel-size dab of leave-in conditioner. She was further irritated by the sweaty wig covering her dark hair, not to mention the itchy blue contact lenses. Men!

    3. Swedish university student “discovery” Ulla Bergryd not only had to deal with a “crappy” wig as Eve, she had to deal with having it glued to her chest, because the edict at the time was still “Thou Shalt Not Bare Thy Boobies” (at least, in a film that needed to go out with the approval seal from the Motion Picture Code).

      Not surprisingly, she only appeared in one other obscure film in a supporting role, went back to university and eventually wound up in academia.

  5. As you’ve already written about in another post, there’s “My Fair Lady”, which has some very ’60s hair (Eliza at the Embassy ball). There’s also “Sword of Sherwood Forest” (1960) and “A Challenge for Robin Hood” (1967).

  6. I love this series and am glad to see another entry!

    As for El Cid (1961): I thought it was a pretty by-the-numbers sword and shield epic that didn’t know what century it was set in visually. Architecture, clothing, and armour from all over the place. The jousting scene is particularly egregious. And it would seem this extends to the hair.

    There are some decent references for clothing, armour, and some hair in the Biblia Sancti Petri Rodensis, dated to the second half of the 11th century:

    In my opinion it’s a bit subjective exactly what that hair should look like in corporeal form, but Heston’s mop ain’t it.

  7. “Women in Love” is a film I like but I haven’t seen it in a while. I don’t remember anything egregiously wrong with the hair… Ursula has kinda messy fly-away hair, very feminine. Gudrun is very Louise Brooks vamp-y with a bob. Hermione’s hair is mostly up and dressed. There’s also “Thoroughly Modern Millie”, the 1st movie where I ever noticed the costumes. Again, the 20s, and again, I haven’t seen it in a while, but I don’t remember the hair being bad.
    “Bonnie and Clyde” is often discussed as one of Hollywood’s 1st attempts at period accuracy in costumes so I wonder how the hair holds up. I haven’t seen it in a while either.

    1. I can’t remember where I saw this, but I once saw an interview with (Oscar-nominated) BONNIE AND CLYDE costumer Theadora Van Runkle where she said she was out shopping for materials for the film and ran into Edith Head.

      Head asked her what she was working on, and Van Runkle replied that it was a period piece set in the ’30s. She said Head beamed and nodded knowingly, gushed, “Chiffon, chiffon, chiffon, dear!” and walked away.

  8. These posts are great. I hope y’all do one of these for the 70s. It’s when accuracy finally becomes a thing. It was the default setting when I was studying design in college in the late 70s. It’d be interesting to see how 70s hair creeps into otherwise pretty accurate movies. And of course there’s “Barry Lyndon” but also “Joseph Andrews”… there’s Richard Lester’s 3 Musketeers films but also “The Devils”.

  9. Try La Folie des Grandeurs set in Spain 1640´s, they alternate between good « velasquez » court hair style and girly bouffants. The court costumes are also quite good

  10. These posts must be so labor-intensive, but I love them! They’re right up there with Snark Week for me. Bonus points for your hilarious Quixotic quest for what historical Adam and Eve looked like.

  11. “The Lion in Winter (1968) – Katharine Hepburn rocks the wimple, yet goes weirdly bouffant on top!”

    That was kind of Hepburn’s own default hairdo, and it can be seen in GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967) and off-screen photos of her at that time.

  12. On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. Babs rocks a bouffant like no one else in the Regency!

  13. I’d go with Julie Christie’s look in Dr. Zhivago. I mean, it’s supposed to be late 1910s/1920s and she’s totally bouffant!

  14. This post is making me question the accuracy of the hairstyles in Mary Poppins and Pollyanna.

  15. Also, I’m also curious about the accuracy of the hair in the Vincent Price version of The Fall of the House of Usher.

  16. Not a film, but my mother’s been watching Here Come the Brides. The costuming is…not great…but the hair is pure 60s bouffant goodness.

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