Jun 17, 2016

Bygone Beehive

My husband says everything great and wonderful comes out of Chicago. Hometown pride, of course. So it wouldn't surprise him at all to learn that the beehive was the creation of a Chicagoan, Margaret Vinci Heldt, who passed away Friday, June 10 at the age of 98.

 dotpolka - beehive - 2005 -Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 unmodified

 Caryn Rousseau/Associated Press

Margaret invented the beehive in 1960, when she was asked by Modern Beauty Shop magazine to create a look to mark the new decade. The bouffant was already a popular style for women, but Heldt's beehive took the bouffant to new heights.

'They told me: "We want you to come up with something really different."' Her invention was published in the February, 1960 issue.

The beehive, nor the bouffant, could have been possible without the postwar invention of aerosol hair spray. The hairstyle requires backcombing the hair and setting it. According to Heldt, it was a salon favorite because "it would hold its shape for a week between appointments."
“I started building up height from a basic updo by winding hair over Pepsi cans, back-combing at first and then – inspiration, I spiraled a layer of hair smoothly around the form. This was then followed by a major session of hair spraying to hold it all in place.” Glamourdaze.com



What's so interesting is that the hair-do was not inspired by the honeycomb house for bees, but rather by a hat – a black, velvet fez-style cap.
“I always would look at that little hat and say ‘Someday, I’m going to create a hairstyle that would fit under the hat, and when you take the hat off, the hairstyle would be there.’” New York Times
The cap was decorated with two beads resembling bees, and the hairstyle was ultimately named by the magazine's editor who felt the bee beads fit the 'do. While that hat has yet to make its way to a museum, Heldt's “Lady Bee” hair mannequin is in the collection of the Chicago History Museum.

The hairstyle might have germinated in Chicago, but it certainly became an international sensation.

 L: Dusty Springfield, 1966 NME Pollwinners Concert / R: Ronettes, 1963

 Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1961


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