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The Heritage of the French Salon

The Heritage of the French Salon

When French women visit a salon to have their hair styled professionally, they are carrying on a social tradition that began hundreds of years ago. The modern French salon is an important cultural institution that pops up around the world.

In its original sense, the salon is a French invention. Emerging as an important cultural force circa the Sixteenth Century, salons were curated gatherings hosted by an inspired figure, where citizens of diverse persuasions could come together to indulge in conversation and enjoy the free exchange of ideas. By most accounts, salons were very important to the advancement of women. Here, away from the restrictions of male-dominated society, they could enjoy freedom of intellect, creativity and yes, seduction.

Anyone can wear their hair long (as long as it's in good condition).

JAMES GALVIN, LONDON HAIRDRESSER

Of course, the modern French salon, where hairdressers work their magic with shampoos and scissors, is quite a different thing. But is it, really? There are 55,000 of them in France, and they are still quite important to women, no? And they are still gathering places, where French women go to find renewal and transformation, where a diverse set of intriguing creatures can exchange inspiration and ideas. The salon as we know it is still very social. And it is still strongly connected to the art of seduction.

Much has been made about the allure of the French pharmacy, stocked with the potions and elixirs that make up a French woman’s legendary skin care regimen. Though it remains somewhat obscure, the French salon is easily as crucial. A ritual that is both highly indulgent and completely necessary, French women rely on salon visits to keep their hair as healthy and beautiful as their skin. Here, they can access scientific solutions to achieve incredible hair that appears effortless. Just as it was during the Enlightenment, the salon is a French woman’s secret source of power.

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