It is probably more accurate to proclaim Antoine, a Pole born Antoni Cierplikowski, as the most celebrated & florid hairdresser & wigmaker of his time, which does not, in any way, disparage the man's contribution to the rarefied Continental circles in which he flourished. Antoine made wigs & developed hairstyles in the same way Swinburne wrote poetry, delighting often in the most grotesque excesses of shape, color, sheen & texture. Needless to say he became a favorite of the Surrealists -- Man Ray, Salvador Dali & Cocteau in particular -- and his work certainly complemented the oneiric fillip the Surrealists managed to inveigle into every early 20th Century art-form & medium. Antoine was the instigator of the scandalous bob (later popularized by Louise Brooks), the chromium curls of Josephine Baker, the blue highlights and schooner-sail coiffure of the European jet-set & literati, and numerous other acts of cultural sabotage that fueled the image we have of the 1920s, the startling pomp of the 20th Century avant-garde & every literate libertine's dreams of living an utterly fabulous life.
There is something slightly eerie & sinister about Antoine. Perhaps it's that he looks for all the world like a gardenia-scented Conrad Veidt (and, later in his life, like one of the extras in the Whispering Glades scenes of Tony Richardson's The Loved One) & that -- when concentrating on the back of a starlet's head or the postiches on a row of Novita mannequins --there is a cruel set to his mouth more befitting the mad scientist with a calcified soul or a world-weary fin-de-siecle decadent than the glib, catty hairstylists encountered in today's films & television programs.
|Elsa Schiaparelli in a Antoine de Paris wig. Photograph by Man Ray.|
|The Funeral of Antoni Cierplikowski|
|The Grave of Antoine de Paris|