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François Marcel marcelling his wife's hair, 1922.
Edna Fearon (Liverpool, UK) models the Marcel Wave, circa 1930.

Marcelling is a hair styling technique in which hot curling tongs are used to induce a curl into the hair.[1][2] Its appearance was similar to that of a finger wave but it is created using a different method.

Marcelled hair was a popular style for women's hair in the 1920s,[2] often in conjunction with a bob cut.[3] For those women who had longer hair, it was common to tie the hair at the nape of the neck and pin it above the ear with a stylish hair pin or flower. One famous wearer was Josephine Baker.[4]


Accounts vary about the invention of the style, but Marcel Grateau (1852–1936) is widely credited with inventing the hair styling technique in the 1870s (differing accounts report 1872 or 1875).[4][5][6] The inventor and stylist emigrated to the United States and changed his name to François Marcel Woelfflé, sometimes reported as François Marcel.[7][8] He was granted U.S. patents for implements for performing the technique; the first, U.S. patent 806386, entitled "Curling-Iron", was published in 1905,[9] and the second, entitled "Hair-Waving Iron", for an electric version, under the name François Marcel, was published in 1918.[7] His obituary appeared under the name Francois Marcel Grateau in 1936.[2]

Pop Culture[edit]

The doo-wop group the Marcels were named after the hairstyle.[10][11]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Staples, Dorothy (2010). Time revisited : a memoir. S.l: Iuniverse Inc. p. 18. ISBN 978-1450229029.
  2. ^ a b c "The Marcel Wave". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  3. ^ "The Marcel Wave". Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  4. ^ a b Sherrow, Victoria (2006). Encyclopedia of hair : a cultural history. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 257. ISBN 0313331456.
  5. ^ Vetica, Robert (2009). Good to great hair : celebrity hairstyling techniques made simple. Beverly, Mass: Fair Winds Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-1592333578.
  6. ^ "Marcel". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  7. ^ a b US patent 1277739 
  8. ^ "The Marcel Wave". Retrieved 2019-04-19.
  9. ^ US patent 806386 
  10. ^ Morrow, Cousin Brucie; Maloof, Rich (2007). Doo wop : the music, the times, the era. New York: Sterling Pub. p. 152. ISBN 978-1402742767.
  11. ^ Marv Goldberg (2009). "The Marcels". Retrieved 2012-08-19.

External links[edit]