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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Beauty Parlor: 1928

Beauty Parlor: 1928

Washington, D.C., circa 1928. "Roberts beauty shop." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Harris & Ewing Collection. View full size.

On Shorpy:
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Vegetable Shampoo

I think the vegetable shampoo might be henna which is some kind of plant. I would add color to your hair. Also I think the "water" price is referring to a water wave as opposed to the marcel wave. It's wonderful pic and a wonderful look into the past.

Mr. Robert's Work...

Actually, it's not uncommon today for a shop such as this to charge more if the stylist's name is above the door. My sister frequents a salon where the owner Pierre or Cristof, or whatever his name is, gets a significantly higher rate than the other stylists on staff. It's a practice for this type of business that apparently goes back a long way.

Don't shampoo your hair

I was taught by my mother, a 1939 graduate of a beauty school (she became a "beauty operator"), that frequent washing would dry out hair. So, in our household hair was washed once weekly, though most of my early years my brothers and I had what was called a butch cut.

Marius Robert, Hairdresser

Washington Post, Aug 2, 1972

Marius Robert, 75, Was Hairdresser

Marius Robert, 75, owner for 40 years of the Robert of Paris hairdressers at 1514 Connecticut Ave. NW, died July 17 of a heart attack at this home, 3535 16th St. NW.

A native of Lyon, France and an infantry veteran of World War I, he came to this country in 1923 and established his business here. He retired in 1963 and the establishment no longer bears his name.

Mr. Robert was a member of the Hair Fashion Council, a charter member of the Washington Hairdressers Association and belonged to the Federation of French War Veterans and Sacred Heart Catholic Church.

He is survived by his wife, Ninon V., and a brother, Benjamin, and a sister, Maria Meunier, both of Lyon.

Robert of Paris
Ex-Diploma Professor of the French Hairdressing School
Formerly with Emile
Has Just Opened A Select Salon of
Beauty Culture
Specializing in Lanoil
Permanent Waving
Premier Exponent of the French Bob
Experts in All Other Branches Will Secure Most Satisfactory Work
For Appointments Phone North 2776
1520 Connecticut Ave., Washington, D.C.
(1924 Advertisement)

Think of the Joy It Must Be to know that your hair is perfectly groomed on a hot summer day. Be prepared for such days - do not wait until they come - make your reservation early and have a Flat Permanent Wave at Robert of Paris. We use oil exclusively in our Permanent Wave. Success is absolutely guaranteed to dyed and white hair. Mr. Robert is the originator of the Parisian Bob in Washington.

(1926 Advertisement)

Experience is the secret of my leadership in Permanent Waving.
Try my Vegetable Shampoo for grey hair
"Not a Dye"
1514 Conn. Ave., North 2776-2777
(1930 Advertisement)


The store interiors are my favorites as well. I love the ceramic powderbox in the left-hand cabinet. Very much like the half-doll pincushions so popular at the time, some of which were nudies, too. Artistic, of course!

It's possible that an "oil shampoo" might be what we'd call conditioner nowadays.

Nice call on the former parlor -- I thought that wallpaper border looked awfully domestic for a business.

Water shampoo vs. dry shampoo, I believe

Back in the day I believe there was such a concept as a "dry" shampoo -- a powder put in your hair that, when combed out, was supposed to remove some of the oil. These still exist today, to some extent, although they're much less common.

Again speculating, but I think this was part of the conventional wisdom at the time -- that too much washing with soap and water was hard on your hair. You were supposed to wash it only once a week or so. (Geh.)

Crescent Moon Box

After I looked at it, I thought it might be a Toucan bird. Can you see the eye, and the line down the bill of the bird? Also, there might be a leg sticking out there, too. I love this box, too. They don't make things like this anymore, do they? It might be a bottle of something or other -- perfume, hair tonic, who knows?

Yet Another Bob

"If skirts get much shorter,
said the flapper with a sob,
there'll be two more cheeks to powder,
and one more place to bob."

All I want for Christmas.... whatever's in that box under the counter with the crescent moon cutout. I don't care if it's Eau de Alleycat, I love that box.

(And what's so special about Mr. Robert?)

Mr. Robert

Love to know what he was like. Did the stereotype of gay male hairdresser exist in 1928?

Also enjoy the Deco packaging and ads. I think my favorite Shorpy pics are the interiors of stores & businesses. I love looking at all the "stuff."

No need for Miss Clairol here

"Our vegetable shampoo brings back the natural shade of prematurely gray hair" Makes you wonder what vegetables and other substances were in that brew!

First Bob

That one is at the top of the price list for a good reason, I presume, judging from how many of the Atwater-Kent workers had one this year.

I have an appointment with Mr. Robert

for a haircut, followed by a wet set and then a manicure. I'll buy some of that vegetable shampoo, too, please.

Late of Maison Gustave

UPDATE: based on further research (see above) the "Roberts" referred to in this 1925 advertisement is probably not the "Mr. Robert" associated with this photo.

Marinello Beauty Parlor

Shampooing, Manicuring, Face Massaging,
Mercelling, Permenent Waving, 50¢ per curl
All the latest modes in hair bobbing by
Roberts - Late of Maison Gustave
528 11TH ST. NW. PHONE FRANK, 5592


I'd like Mr. Robert, please.

Must have been a special day to have Mr. Robert bob your hair. Well worth the dollar extra I am sure!

Can We Talk

The working spaces or booths seem awfully confining. That also didn't encourage talking among the customers. I imagine a great deal of the pleasure the ladies get at these salons is the exchange of information. I guess I made that statement politically correct.

Not so different

Just like some shops today, with those additional items like perfume, lipsticks and powders, carefully displayed the showcases to tempt a lady to be more appealing, even while she is still paying for the visit she just had. If not for the phone and pen on the counter I could even be convinced this is a more recent boutique spa.

Also- looks like it was a parlor at some point, with the fireplace directly behind the register. Couldn't have been that cold in the shop!

We'll Wait for Mr. Robert, Thank You

First Bob $2
Hair Cut $1
Mr. Robert's Work
First Bob $3
Hair Cut $1.50

Since it's my first Bob, I think I'll cough up the extra buck.

I hope he was worth it

According to the price list, the owner commands a 50% premium if HE cuts your hair. That's some chutzpah!

Water vs. Plain?

Why was a "water" shampoo more expensive than a "plain" shampoo? I'm so intrigued to know what these terms meant back then in the hairdresser business!


Shucks! We just narrowly missed a peek at a client's no doubt lovely outfit.

And we'll wrap your purchase

And we'll wrap your purchase in brown paper and twine!
I've never purchased anything in brown paper and twine.
I don't know why that strikes me so strongly other than it's such a simple, yet significant, change in daily routine.

And: There's a call for Shorpy on Line 2.

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