The pompadour is a hairstyle named for Madame de Pompadour (1721–1764), a mistress of King Louis XV. Although there are numerous variations of the style for men, women, and children, the basic concept is hair swept upwards from the face and worn high over the forehead, and sometimes upswept around the sides and back as well.
After its initial popularity among fashionable women in the 18th century, the style was revived as part of the Gibson Girl look in the 1890s and continued to be in vogue until World War I. The style was in vogue for women once again in the 1940s. The men's version, as worn by existentialist Franz Kafka and early country and rock and roll stars such as Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, was popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and has enjoyed a renaissance in the mid 2010s. Variations of the pompadour style continue to be worn by men and women in the 21st century.
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Among women, the hairstyle has become marginally popular again in the first few years of the 21st century. It can be created by backcombing or ratting at the roots of the hair on the sides of the pompadour towards the top of the head. Then the hair is combed up and over the ratted hair, off the forehead, the front up in a curl straight back, and the sides pulled back towards the center.
Actress and World War II pin-up girl Betty Grable wearing another variant of the pompadour style, 1943.
During the 1980s, the pompadour hair style was adopted by those enamoured with vintage culture of the late 1950s and early 1960s, which included antique cars, hot rods, muscle cars, American folk music, greasers, Teddy Boys, rockabilly bands, and Elvis Presley impersonators.
There are Latins (Italic tribes)|Latin variants of the hair style more associated with European and Argentine tango fashion trends and occasionally with late 20th century musical genres such as rockabilly and country. During the 1930s and 1940s, the pompadour and ducktail were popular among hep cats and Mexican zoot suiters.
This style has become popular among cholos, Italian Americans and the "goombah" or "Guido" subculture. The style is often parodied in shows like The Sopranos or Jersey Shore, which portray negatively stereotyped characters—especially Silvio Dante. Notable gangsters, such as John Gotti, have sported the hair style.
In modern Japanese popular culture, the pompadour is a stereotypical hairstyle often worn by gang members, thugs, members of the yakuza and its junior counterpart bōsōzoku, and other similar groups such as the yankii (high-school hoodlums). In Japan the style is known as the "Regent" hairstyle, and is often caricatured in various forms of entertainment media such as anime, manga, television, and music videos, often into improbable levels of length and volume. The punch perm combines elements of the afro hairstyle and the traditional pompadour. This style, too, is stereotypically worn by less reputable members of society, including the yakuza, bōsōzoku, and chinpira (street thugs).
In the psychobilly subculture, the pompadour is slightly modified to form the quiff. The quiff is a hairstyle worn by Psychobilly fans and musicians (Kim Nekroman frontman of Nekromantix for example). A psychobilly wedge is a sort of mix between a mohawk hairstyle and the pompadour, where the hair along the side of the head is shaved and the middle is not spiked but slicked back and stood up like a pompadour.
Today, the pompadour hairstyle is worn on celebrities which include Conan O'Brien, Bruno Mars, Morrissey, David Beckham, Drake Bell, Zac Efron, Zayn Malik, Alex Turner of Arctic Monkeys, and Justin Timberlake.
The pompadour hairstyle came from French sailors hats that had pompoms on them, they used these to detect if they would hit their head on the beams on the ship.
- Sherrow, Victoria (2006). Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 309–310.
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Examples of non-rockabilly male musicians with pompadours
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- Leiby, Richard (January 21, 2002). "Joe Henry: Too Big Too Fit". The Washington Post, pg. C1.
Tango and Latin connection