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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 made by a quite different means.


Accounts vary about the invention of the style. Some reports ascribe the invention of the technique to Marcel Grateau (1852–1936), who invented it in 1872 (others say 1875).[3][4][5] François Marcel Woelfflé, who later changed his name to François Marcel,[6] was granted U.S. patents for implements for performing the technique: the first, U.S. patent 806386, entitled "Curling-Iron", was published in 1905,[7] and the second, entitled "Hair-Waving Iron", for an electric version, under the name François Marcel, was published in 1918.[6] There is also a 1936 obituary for Francois Marcel Grateau, with dates matching those of the first-named Marcel Grateau.[2] Given the dates, and the coincidence of names, it is quite possible that they were all the same man.[citation needed]

Marcelled hair was a popular style for women's hair in the 1920s,[2] often in conjunction with a bob cut. 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.[3] The doo-wop group the Marcels were named after the hairstyle.[8][9]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Staples, Dorothy (2010). Time revisited : a memoir. S.l: Iuniverse Inc. p. 18. ISBN 1450229026.
  2. ^ a b c "The Marcel Wave". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b Sherrow, Victoria (2006). Encyclopedia of hair : a cultural history. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. p. 257. ISBN 0313331456.
  4. ^ Vetica, Robert (2009). Good to great hair : celebrity hairstyling techniques made simple. Beverly, Mass: Fair Winds Press. p. 77. ISBN 1592333575.
  5. ^ "Marcel". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  6. ^ a b US patent 1277739 
  7. ^ US patent 806386 
  8. ^ Morrow, Cousin Brucie; Maloof, Rich (2007). Doo wop : the music, the times, the era. New York: Sterling Pub. p. 152. ISBN 1402742762.
  9. ^ Marv Goldberg (2009). "The Marcels". Retrieved 2012-08-19.