Most of us familiar with the "Marcel" wave associate it with the 1920's, but the process was created by Francois Marcel, a French hairdresser, in 1872. It caught fire again in the 1920's with the invention of electric curling irons and the popularity of the "bob" hairstyle, which could be worn sleek and simple, as Louise Brooks does below:
Just to back up a bit, in the 1910's, women grew their hair as long as possible and spent a lot of time grooming it. The sudden shift in the 1920's to chopping it all off must have been quite shocking to many, and liberating to others.
To add some pizzazz to the bob, finger waves were suggested:
Many women owned curling irons already, although they weren't electric versions and needed to be heated over a gas burner. It was hard to control the level of heat and many locks were damaged with these old implements.
Two vintage curling irons from my collection:
This gal spent some time at the salon with one of those old-timey electric perm machines. I don't think we can blame a curling iron for this:
And here is what we're talking about when we say "electric perm machine":
No wonder this young lady is smiling. Her 'do turned out just great:
This gal is sporting a hairdo that's not really a Marcel, but I wanted to share it here anyway because it's so cute. I believe that's called a "spit curl" near her eye:
I have a feeling you'll be looking for examples of the Marcel when you comb through old pictures at the antique mall or flea market. If you find a good one, think of me!