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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.


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.