50 Years of Hair
by Jennifer LB Leese
The art of hairdressing has been around for decades. Hairstyles come and go. A few have made an everlasting mark in history and others have faded into the darkness, never to be practiced again.
"Hairdressing did not emerge as a profession until the reign of Louis XV of France and the influence on hair fashions by his mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Wig makers were prominent before this time but no hairdressers. Elaborate theme parties were thrown by socialites of the French Court. Women started hiring artists to create hairstyles depicting the theme of these parties. The hair was draped over a frame stuffed with cotton, wool, or straw and cemented with a paste that hardened. The hair was then powdered and decorated. Hairdos had live birds in cages, waterfalls, Cupids, and naval battles, complete with ships and smoke. One widow, overcome with mourning, had her husband's tombstone erected in her hair. This time in history is where the term "hairdresser" was born. They dressed the hair with ornamentation. By 1767 there were 1200 hairdressers working in Paris; a few years earlier there had been none.
Hairdressers performed their services at the client's home. Because of this they were not only sought after for their artistic talent, but also for their knowledge of what the other women were wearing. Hairdressers were the Barbara Walters, National Enquirer, and Entertainment Tonight of the French Court (some things never change)!"
Just ask your mother or grandmother, keeping your Friday hair appointment was very important, as it guaranteed the most perfect hairstyle for the weekend. Beauticians aspired to book as many "standing" appointments weekly, to ensure a steady income. The beauty parlor became a social affair where women gathered to gossip, all while beautifying themselves. Women had no problem canceling dentist and doctor appointments, but they rarely ever canceled their hair appointments. Women felt so strongly about their hairstyles, that they would wrap toilet paper around their heads before going to bed. They slept on satin pillowcases so their hair would slide on the pillow instead of sliding the pillow with their head. Their windows were never rolled down in the car; they didn't go out on windy days without casing their hair in a rain cap, and they ever accepted the invitation to swim at a swim party.
A woman's hairstyle is her most important accessory.
Who can forget the bouffant, turned "beehive" by 1964 high school girls; still common today Bobs from the Speakeasy and short skirt era, and the Finger Waves of the 1920s?
Many hair fashions have graced our society over the years. Then and now, everyone has their favorite. If it wasn't for places like the widely known and respected Award Beauty School in Hagerstown, who would teach future cosmetologists how to do hair, nails, and skin?
The Award Beauty School has been in business for 50 years. Bud Wallace was owner the first 47 years of those 50. As of July 2002, James Bilney purchased Award Beauty School and placed Mary Ellen Sommerfeld as school director. The school teaches two different programs: Cosmetology (1500 hours) and Nail Tech (250 hours). "We offer financial aid to those who qualify in the cosmetology field. We are accredited by national Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts & Science (NACCAS). We follow Maryland Higher Education requirements and the Maryland Health Department," says Mary Ellen Sommerfeld.
The school's mission is to teach students the basics to go into an entry-level salon and to prepare them to take the Maryland State Boards in Theory and Practical Exams. "We pride ourselves in the instructors we hire and the instruction we give our students. Our education director has been at Award Beauty School for over 35 years. She has seen the change in students, hairstyles, dress, ups and downs of the education field."
Award has a staff of Admissions Director Kristi Criton, two junior instructors, Judy Berry and Joyce Quinn; Senior Instructor Cindy Troutman, and Senior Day Supervisor Trish Everett during the day time hours and Junior Instructor Bernice Mebane and Senior Evening Supervisor Instructor Diane Weller during the nighttime hours. Board Exam/Nail Tech Instructor Tamra Hovis, splits day and night hours, and Education Director Janet Fischer, School Director Mary Ellen Sommerfeld, Financial Aid Director Donna Stephens, Vice President of Operations Pat Martin and President James Bilney helps the school run as smoothly as possible.
As their 50th Anniversary, the Award Beauty School had their students go through the decades of hairstyles during their June events. On June 8 they honored the first graduates, evening students, instructors, nail techs, and past students and instructors all in the white, black, male, and female categories.
The facility [School] features modern beauty equipment, separate theory classrooms, and a modern laboratory where the advanced students receive practical and clinical training. Award Beauty School strives to improve their operations in order to keep abreast with the ever-changing developments and new techniques in cosmetology and manicuring.
The cosmetology and manicuring program at Award is for the student to acquire a broad knowledge of both the science and art of cosmetology and be able to use the knowledge learned as a foundation to be successful in the profession. The program is so the student can develop his/her physical dexterity and manipulative skills and develop loyalty and enthusiasm for the profession, acquire ethical standards and work to achieve ability through diligent practice, study, and hard work. Cosmetology and manicuring is a lifetime career for those who quality. Training in cosmetology is usually 1 to 1 1/2 years. Nail Tech training is as short as 12 1/2 weeks.
Award Beauty School teaches cosmetologists manicuring, hairstyling, temporary and permanent waving, temporary and permanent hair straightening, hair lightning, and hair coloring, care and styling of wigs, and various facial and scalp treatments.
For those interested in cosmetology and would like financial aid, contact Donna Stephens at 301-733-4520 or drop in for more information at Award Beauty School, 26 East Antietam Street, Hagerstown.