The hair slide made a big comeback on the catwalk during the latest Fashion Week. Celebrating its 100th birthday in 2020, it is a young whippersnapper compared to all the hair jewellery that went before it, and it is now popping up in the most fashionable of hairstyles.
For as long as women have enjoyed looking good, they have decorated their hair with accessories. Beautiful Chinese tortoiseshell combs depicted in old etchings, gold and precious stone clasps from Ancient Egypt, heavily encrusted royal crowns, diadems full of pearls from the Roaring Twenties... All of which bear witness to creativity which transcends the confines of time and space.
However, this jewellery, as beautiful as it was, wasn't practical for wearing on a daily basis. Of course, most women used ribbons to tie up their long hair but they would slip out, get damaged and deteriorate quickly.
When Charles Delsol filed a patent for the "impossible to lose hair slide" (the hair slide with a mechanical spring which we know today), he started a real revolution in the hairstyling world and sold 70 million of them per year at the peak of his success.
Yet, he did not seem like a man born to be interested in hair-related issues, by any stretch of the imagination! In his mechanical workshop, he made ironwork art and ornate wrought iron pieces before devoting his time to making horseshoes for the French army during the First World War.
The brutality of war must have made him want to enjoy the lighter side of life when peace was restored, as he started to make settings and embellishments for jewellery. It was by doing this and combining his mechanical knowledge with his interest in jewellery, that he created the hair slide, this small object which was to make him his fortune.
Having fallen into the public domain in 1970, the patent for the "impossible to lose hair slide" was taken up by competitors all over the world. Delsol remained one of the leaders in the field, and the only European manufacturer, but designers gave themselves free rein and a whole range of materials, colours and shapes started to appear.
From China to Buenos Aires, Sydney and Timbuktu, the hair slide is seen in women's hair, made from plastic, leather, wood, etc.. But the most precious are those made from cellulose acetate, a natural material made from cotton which is more expensive, but which has the advantages of lasting longer and not gathering static electricity.
Originally designed for practical reasons, the hair slide has become a real piece of jewellery which can be suited to any occasion. Covered in rhinestones for sophisticated evenings out, trimmed with leather to put up long hair prettily or with vibrant colours to brighten up an outfit. The only thing you need to know being: If you have thick hair, go for a deeply curved half-moon shape.