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The Business of Beauty

Gender and the Body in Modern London

Jessica P. Clark (Brock University, Canada)



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Bloomsbury Visual Arts
30 April 2020
The Business of Beauty is a unique exploration of the history of beauty, consumption, and business in Victorian and Edwardian London. Illuminating national and cultural contingencies specific to London as a global metropolis, it makes an important intervention by challenging the view of those who-like their historical contemporaries-perceive the 19th and early 20th centuries as devoid of beauty praxis, let alone a commercial beauty culture.

Contrary to this perception, The Business of Beauty reveals that Victorian and Edwardian women and men developed a number of tacit strategies to transform their looks including the purchase of new goods and services from a heterogeneous group of urban entrepreneurs: hairdressers, barbers, perfumers, wigmakers, complexion specialists, hair-restorers, manicurists, and beauty culturists. Mining trade journals, census data, periodical print, and advice literature, Jessica P. Clark takes us on a journey through Victorian and Edwardian London's beauty businesses, from the shady back parlors of Sarah Madame Rachel Leverson to the elegant showrooms of Eugene Rimmel into the first Mayfair salon of Mrs. Helena Titus, aka Helena Rubinstein.

By revealing these stories, Jessica P. Clark revises traditional chronologies of British beauty consumption and provides the historical background to 20th-century developments led by Rubinstein and others. Weaving together histories of gender, fashion, and business to investigate the ways that Victorian critiques of self-fashioning and beautification defined both the buying and selling of beauty goods, this is a revealing resource for scholars, students, fashion followers, and beauty enthusiasts alike.
By:   Jessica P. Clark (Brock University Canada)
Imprint:   Bloomsbury Visual Arts
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 156mm, 
Weight:   819g
ISBN:   9781350098503
ISBN 10:   1350098507
Pages:   360
Publication Date:   30 April 2020
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jessica P. Clark is a historian of gender, urban space, and appearance in modern Britain, and an associate professor at Brock University, Canada.

Reviews for The Business of Beauty: Gender and the Body in Modern London

Clark's fascinating study of beauty entrepreneurship in 19th-century London provides wonderful insights not only into Victorian and Edwardian business and marketing practices but also into the history of gender, self-fashioning, national identities, and urban cosmopolitanism. Through careful research, the author has unearthed a wide array of intriguing source material that will surprise and delight. * Paul R. Deslandes, University of Vermont, USA *

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