Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Art Deco Hair: Those Fabulous Finger Waves of the 1930's

Myrna Loy

A finger wave is a method of setting the hair into a wave shape that was popular during the Art Deco period of the 1920's and 1930's.  Finger waves are similar in appearance to the Marcel wave.  The main difference is how the waves are achieved.  Finger waves are molded into S shaped undulations with the fingers and a comb while the hair is wet.  Usually a lotion is used to help hold the shape.  The Marcel wave is achieved with a heated curling iron and was named after the 19th Century French hairdresser, Francois Marcel, who invented the process in 1872.  It revolutionized the art of hairdressing for years to come.

Bette Davis

Many Hollywood movie stars wore the latest in finger wave styles which contributed to its wide appeal.  It was a popular alternative to the bobbed hairstyles of the flapper period (think Louise Brooks) as it gave a softer and stylish look to evening wear as well as day wear.

Finger wave hairstyles also worked particularly well with the small, close to the head, hat styles of the 1930's.  Skull caps were seen with evening ensembles, and the small brimmed slouch hat became the perfect daytime accessory.  They were often tilted to one side and brims were tilted up in the back to reveal the neatly curled waves.

I was thrilled when Integrity introduced 1930's Madra Lord in 2008 and later Zita Charles to their line-up, complete with those fabulous finger wave hairstyles!  Pictured above on the left is Evening Mist Zita Charles wearing Integrity's "Dangerous Curves" frock.   The OOAK hat and gloves are from The Couture Touch, pin from Facets by Marcia,  fur and bracelet from Ashton Drake.  On the right is C'est Moi Madra Lord wearing Robert Tonner's "Mad About the Hat" suit ensemble from the Joan Crawford Collection.

Silhouette of the 1930's Zita Charles poses in Ashton Drake's "Fascination", a Violet Water's Art Deco inspired evening gown. 

Gene Marshall is truly a "Cinema Siren" in Tonner's Joan Crawford Deco evening ensemble.  Earrings and bracelet from Ashton Drake, cigarette holder from The Couture Touch.


  1. What incredible dolls!
    Are the McCall images from a catalogue in your collection? I'm curious as I have no. 6926..

  2. Thank you for your comment Sarah. They are scans from a 1932 catalog.

  3. wow! Which Gene doll is this? Who did her hair? Do you sell any of your creations?

    1. This is Ashton Drake's Best Bet Gene. She is wearing a wig from Patta Art. The wig is actually too small for Gene; I slit it in a couple places in the back and it is secured to her head with pins. Currently I am taking a break from selling. Thanks so much for your interest. Melissa

  4. Thanks soo much! Ur pretty genius. I'll keep looking for when u start selling again :)