As long as society has paid attention to women's hair, it has paid attention to women's hairdressers—who, more often than not, have been male. Flamboyant, larger-than-life figures, they achieved a level of fame that throughout time has eclipsed even that of their storied clients: princesses, supermodels, first ladies, and starlets among them. Below, a look at the 15 greatest male game-changers in the colorful business of hair.
Era: 17th century
Celebrity Clients: Princess Marie de Gonzague, wife of King Wladyslaw IV Vasa of Poland
C.V.: History's first "coiffeur," Champagne designed signature looks for aristocratic clients, who lavished him with gifts and competed for his attention.
Anecdote: He maintained the temperament of an artiste and was known to walk out mid-styling or insult blue bloods to their faces.
Legros de Rumigny
Era: 18th century
Celebrity Clients: Madame de Pompadour
C.V.: The official hairdresser of the French court, Legros penned a book containing 38 hairstyles (considered a must-read among Parisian haute society) and opened a hairstyling school.
Anecdote: He was crushed to death by a frenzied mob celebrating Marie Antoinette's marriage to Louis XVI.
Era: Late 18th century
Celebrity Clients: Marie Antoinette, Duchesse de Luynes, Madame de Matignon
C.V.: Léonard was best known for creating elaborate hairstyles that sometimes stood five feet high and included or imitated objects such as "a serpent, a rising sun, and an olive tree."
Anecdote: Marie's faith in her hairdresser was such that she entrusted him with her jewels—he subsequently used them to aid his escape from France during the Terror.
Era: 19th century
Celebrity Clients: The Princess of Sagan, the Comtesse de Castellane, Jane Hading
C.V.: While styling the hair of tarts in the slums of Paris, Grateau hit upon a workable method of waving hair, an innovation that made him so sought-after by the demimonde that clients outbid each other for appointments.
Anecdote: An 1893 article compared the fashionable "Marcel wave" to anarchist bombs detonating across Paris at the time.
Antoine (né Antek Cierplikowski)
Celebrity Clients: Coco Chanel, Lady Elsie Mendl, Josephine Baker
C.V.: Inspired by Joan of Arc, Polish-born Antoine created the bob cut, which was then popularized by silent-screen actress Louise Brooks and adopted by flappers as their signature look.
Anecdote: When Lily de Moure lost her hat before a prestigious event, Antoine assured that her he could provide her with a hair style commensurate to the occasion. The bareheaded lady caused a sensation, and the next morning Antoine had a line of women out his door, requesting (incorrectly) "the little Russian."
Era: 1930s and 1940s
Celebrity Clients: Greta Garbo, Grace Kelly, Joan Crawford
C.V.: A protégé of Antoine's who used to sleep on park benches, Guilaroff became the official stylist of MGM studios, where he was adored by his celebrity clientele; he was the first hairdresser to receive screen credit.
Anecdote: He styled Grace Kelly's hair in Monaco on her wedding day and received a call from Marilyn Monroe on the night of her death.
Alexandre de Paris
Celebrity Clients: Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn
C.V.: Described by Jean Cocteau as "le Sphinx de la Coiffure," the mercurial Alexandre cut the hair of not only Hollywood stars but members of international royal families. He also worked as a stylist for fashion designers such as Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld.
Anecdote: When Elizabeth Taylor was bedridden during the filming of Cleopatra, she was asked what would make her most happy—she answered: "Alexandre." He promptly flew to London and gave her the famous "artichoke" cut.
Era: 1950s and 1960s
Celebrity Clients: Diana Dors
C.V.: Bessone, a.k.a. Mr. Teasy-Weasy, ran a flamboyant London salon (gilded mirrors, champagne fountains) where he spoke in a faux French accent and is credited with inventing the modern bouffant. He was also one of the first hairdressers featured on TV.
Anecdote: If addressed by one of the customers while stalking the floor of his salon, he would shout, "Madame, can you not see that I am meditating?"