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.

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

Marcelled hair was a popular style for women's hair in the 1920s,[2] often in conjunction with a bob cut.[2] 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]


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).[3][4][5] The inventor and stylist emigrated to the United States and changed his name to François Marcel Woelfflé, sometimes reported as François Marcel.[6][2] 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,[7] and the second, entitled "Hair-Waving Iron", for an electric version, under the name François Marcel, was published in 1918.[6] His obituary appeared under the name Francois Marcel Grateau in 1936.[2]

Pop cultureEdit

The song Keep Young and Beautiful, popular in 1934, references the hairstyle.[8]

The doo-wop group the Marcels were named after the hairstyle.[9][10]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Staples, Dorothy (2010). Time revisited : a memoir. S.l: Iuniverse Inc. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-4502-2902-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Marcel Wave". Retrieved 29 August 2012.
  3. ^ a b Sherrow 2006, p. 257
  4. ^ Vetica, Robert (2009). Good to Great Hair: Celebrity Hairstyling Techniques Made Simple. Beverly, Mass: Fair Winds Press. p. 77. ISBN 978-1-59233-357-8.
  5. ^ "Marcel". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 August 2012.
  6. ^ a b US patent 1277739 
  7. ^ US patent 806386 
  8. ^ Sherrow 2006, p. 258
  9. ^ Morrow, Cousin Brucie; Maloof, Rich (2007). Doo Wop: The Music, the Times, the Era. New York: Sterling Pub. p. 152. ISBN 978-1-4027-4276-7.
  10. ^ Goldberg, Marv (2009). "The Marcels". Retrieved 19 August 2012.
Works cited

External linksEdit