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L’ art de la coiffure des dames françoises

CoiffureCurlingironLegrosWeb L’ art de la coiffure des dames françoises (The art of coiffure for French ladies) by sieur Legros, nouvelle edition. Paris: Chez Antoine Boudet, 1768. TT956.L519 1768. CHMRB                      

An insight into the opulence of the French court and style of the late eighteenth century can be found in this hairdressing manual—one of the earliest guides dedicated solely to this craft.

 Legros (active in the eighteenth century), stylist to Queen Marie Thérèse Leczinska, wife of King Louis XV of France, describes the tools and techniques required to create more than twenty-five of the most fashionable hair styles of that era. Each hairdo, a number donning intricate configurations of curls interwoven with ribbons and feathers, is beautifully illustrated in hand-colored engravings found throughout the 123 page book.

Several hairstyling implements, including measuring tools and a curling iron (pictured below), are both illustrated and explained in great detail in the introductory chapters making it the most practical guide for haircutting procedures of its day.

The book was later translated into English and became a resource that spread French design and culture to England and America.—Elizabeth Broman


  1. Dear Smithsonian,

    My I introduce myself. My name is Christine Allsopp and I am a second generation Film and TV make-up and hair designer since 1980 with 3 British Academy nominations. I am researching for a project and discover you have a copy of L’ art de la coiffure des dames francaises by Legros – one of the first books ever written on the subject and which I gather has 25 plates of popular hairstyles of the time. Is there any possibility of viewing it online? Has it been reproduced? Or in the unlikely event that you would allow someone to touch it – with gloves on of course – is it viewable by appointment?

    Kind regards,
    Christine Allsopp

    • Hello Christine,

      Thank you for your note! We do have this item in our Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Library:

      Although the volume has not yet been digitized, all of our locations are open to the public by appointment. If you are ever in New York City, please contact our branch staff ( to arrange for a visit.

      Erin Rushing
      Blog Coordinator
      Smithsonian Libraries

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