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Jan 17, 2012

Ways Done in the Past - Hairdressers

Hairdressing at five-footway at Chinatown in 1967.

Throughout history, people have worn their hair in a wide variety of ways, largely determined by the fashions of the lifestyle as at prevailing time.

Hairdressers work in a very old profession.

People have been styling hair for thousands of years, and the personal retinues of many monarchs and prominent individuals included hairdressers as far back as Greek and Roman times. Just like their ancient counterparts, modern hairstylists keep up with hair fashions, popular trends, and new techniques for cutting and styling hair.

A good hairstylist has an excellent fashion sense, along with a keen eye for looks which will be attractive on a specific client. He or she can use various tricks to cut and texture hair for a desired look, and a hairstylist may also add color to the cut, if desired. Some people use the services of hairstylists to do their hair for major events, like weddings and balls, relying on the experience and skills of the hairstylist to get a sleek, fashionable look.

Styling hair is an art and is very rewarding in a creative sense. It is like creating music, only the instrument is the shear and the music is the finished haircut. It is like a painting, only the canvas the artist works on is an actual human being. For the musician, the painter, the carpenter, the seamstress or for anyone who enjoys creating things and working with the hands, hairstyling can be a very rewarding trade. After some practice, a good hairstylist can figure out how a haircut is performed just by looking at it, much as someone who is musically inclined can play a song by ear.

Fashion is always changing, slightly elusive, extremely seductive.

It has the power to transform an image and make a social statement.

To some, fashion is an art form. To others, it is almost a religion.

Designers can greatly influence what direction fashion will go in.

Celebrities and other opinion leaders (socialites and other glitterati) are usually the first to sport new looks, spurring the buying public into accepting emerging trends.

So everyone from big-name designers to celebrities may be behind influencing the direction fashion will go in.

But ultimately, it is you, the consumer, who will decide what is "in" when you choose whether or not to buy into a trend.

Here's an anecdote or rather a grandmother's story, which my former colleague told me that his mother's friend went to a town (I had forgotten the place) in China over 40 years ago.

One morning when the grandmother was wearing a flowery dress out in the street, she had a shock to watch the fashion of the day.

Everybody of her age were wearing dark blue samfoo; most men in Mao suits.

As this Singaporean Chinese grandmother's appearance was the nonconformist odd-person-out, she felt awkward and shy. She quickly returned to the hotel and her relative loaned her a dark blue samfoo to wear. She then went out again to the streets without the strangers' stares. She did not wear cosmetic make-up or jewellery to attract people.

During the "cultural revolution" days in China, everybody were supposed to wear and think the same way in China. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" as the saying goes.

That's history. The ways done in China four decades ago is very different in China today.

There is no such a thing as a right way or wrong way with fashion trend.

The hairstyle for ladies everywhere in the fashion world is temporal, ever changing.

On this blog, lets take a look at the ways of the hairdressers business in Singapore from photos with courtesy of National Archives of Singapore.

Long hair, short hair, curly hair, straight hair or plaited hair, the individual's choice is a person's freedom.

This blog topic is about the changes of hairdresser business over the decades, not about the changes of hairstyling fashion. There are many other blogs about hairstyles and fashion on the blogosphere which those who are interested could search on Google.

Hairdressers at five-footway in Chinatown

Facial beauty treatment with just a thread...on a five-footway.

The conservative hairstyle with a single or double buns at the back of the head. (Photo above).

The same hairstyle with double buns which my mother had worn throughout her life. She was a simple and conservative lady who doesn't believe in spending expensive cosmetic make-up, hairdressing or jewellery accessories. She doesn't care if some people called her old-fashioned. (A photo shown below: My late mother when she was about 40 years old).


Hairdressing Salons in the 1960s

Hairdressing Salon: "Business As Usual" when the shop was flooded.

Since 爱美是女人的天性;爱美是男人的本性 ("Likes to look good is woman's instinct; Likes to look good is man's natural disposition"}, the next blog topic is "Ways Done in the Past - Male Barbers).

Most ladies' pet conversation topic in the office for a coffee break is about their hairstyle or about their colleagues hairstyle.

To each her own hairstyle, how a person wants her hairstyle respectfully. After each change of hairstyle, the ladies just be happy with whatever choice. Please do not let friends or colleagues pass their unkind remarks on your hairstyle to affect their moods.

Some ladies even cried and was depressed for weeks when her hairdresser did a lousy job; until it was time for her hair to grow and she had a change for another hairstyle...and another hairdresser!

When I was young and had lots of hair on my head, I was vain too ;)

Since I started the "Yul Bryner" hairdo or rather "hairless-do" for about two years, I have received remarks about my hairstyle from friends, strangers or people whom I met for our first time, I have treated them graciously as compliments.
According to Gerit Quealy, NBC Journalist, style writer, "Republican Presidential Candidates: Can A Hairstyle Determine Their Fate?":

It turns out it's hip to be square...as far as hairstyles are concerned anyway.

The gossip columnist said: Is that really the best hairstyle for him, I asked New York City stylist James Corbett, because, yes, it is square but, well, it is really square...and all the men's hairstyles began floating in my imagination like disembodied wigs. It was scary.

In a U.S. magazine article, "3 of History's Costliest Hairdos" by Lewis Humphies, "When it comes to spending their disposable incomes, the vast majority of U.S. citizens invest a great deal into personal care and image enhancing products.

...even this jump in image consciousness does not adequately reflect the amount invested by some celebrities when it comes to the cost of a distinctive and individualistic hairstyles".
Well known fashion designer and hairstylist Roland Chow in 1971.

Hairstylist Roland Chow puts the final professional touch to a soft sleek bouffant style for Louise in 1958. Roland sets it with rollers in several sizes, arranged on various angles to achieve the casual look.

Western version for pretty London model "INCROYABLE" was created for Pat Benton in 1958.

Singapore Celebrity Hair-stylist David Gan

My blogger friend Victor Koo, is taking up the challange on "How Much Is A Haircut Worth?" blog here .

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3 Comments:

Blogger Andy Lim* said...

Used to have my hair cropped beside a mosque at an Indian barber shop in Geylang when I was a child.

It cost 80 Cents and I always squirmed in the barber's chair while I was powdered behind my neck.

To me it was eternity!

Is Roland Chow still around? I thought I just read about him?

January 19, 2012 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Andy, the sad news on Roland Chow as reported in The Straits Times on 16 January, 2012:

Former celebrity hair stylist Roland Chow has died of pneumonia at the age of 85.

Mr Chow, born as Zhou Shaohai, was a trendsetter in the fashion industry. He was the first designer to hold a fashion show in Singapore in the 1950s. He was also the first hairstylist here to be trained in France in the 1970s.

During his time, he was one of the few Singaporeans to have had his fashion designs grace the Paris catwalks. But Mr Chow, who traded his pair of scissors for a pen in 1994, writing Chinese essays and newspaper columns, suffered a stroke 18 years ago and had to be wheelchair-bound.

His younger sister Zhou Rongjing told Shin Min Daily News that he developed a high fever on Jan 9 and had a lot of phlegm. She then sent for a nurse to visit Mr Chow at his home. A doctor, who accompanied the nurse on the visit, diagnosed Mr Chow with pneumonia and he was rushed to the National University Hospital on the same day, said the report. But he died on Thursday.

January 21, 2012 at 4:34 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks to my friend Ivan Teo for this email sent to me his first person experience to be served by the professional hairstylist of Singapore in the 1970s and posted on behalf of his comment to the blog for us to share here:

I remember Roland Chow, the girly girly man, whose saloon was at Orchard Road.

I was his customer for a number of years.

My hair was (and still is) all along subborn and difficult to manage.

A colleague of mine in Mitsubishi suggested I went to Roland for cutting my hair, saying that perhaps he might be able to cut it in such a way that would be easier for me to manage.

I made appointment for a hair cut.
I arrived at 2 pm. There were many customers there. He came to me and the moment he touched my hair, he said, wah, your hair like wire, very straight and very stubborn.

By just touching my hair, he recommended me for a 'body perm'. Huh, what was that?

Never heard of 'body perm', only hair perm! wah ha ha.

I was afraid to go for it but he assured me that it would not be very curly, just wavy but
that would help me manage my hair better.

With his assurance, I took the plunge.

The whole perm took almost 5 hours - each time, Roland came around to check on my hair, it was not curled, and he would made a remark "my oh my, your hair is so stubborn". By around 6 pm or so, all had left (including Roland's helpers) except Roland and one lady who had to stay behind to blow my hair.

I left the saloon at around 7 pm, but that was the best perm I ever had.

That was in early 70s and the rest is history. (at that time, Roland was a very famour hairstylist).

January 21, 2012 at 4:53 PM  

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