Friday, May 8, 2009

The Princess of Hair Nets

Last week I was lucky enough to find an old Gordon Mackay catalogue (Spring-Summer 1958). Gordon Mackay was a Canadian chain of stores founded as a dry goods establishment in 1853, and branching out into everything else by the 1950s, from the look of what is on offer.

I love old catalogues and wish I had saved the ones that I used to pore over back in the early 70s. For example, a bakers' commercial-supply place sent my mother a catalogue around 1972, for some reason (she was not a commercial baker and we lived in an apartment, so I have no idea why she got on their mailing list). It was quite bizarre and enthralling. As were the clothing, gift and useless-gadget catalogues that regularly appeared in the mail.

Anyway, Gordon Mackay. Loads of stuff in this catalogue, everything from clothing to housewares and beauty items and appliances. Half the things appeal to me in a retro, wish-I-could-find-this-secondhand way, and the other half make me shudder and/or laugh.

Here's a little something I found for us to ponder today: Princess Pat and her line of hairnets.

Princess Pat Cosmetics, which were available from about the 1930s on, were probably named for Princess Patricia of Connaught (1886-1974), granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She was the Colonel-in-Chief of the Canadian Princess Patricia's Light Infantry (established 1918), as well. That is her just below. She does not appear to be wearing any sort of hair net, though.

And that brings us back to - hair nets. And the Gordon Mackay catalogue ad...

Pat (the cosmetics firm, I mean) uses real human hair, which startled me. And some of it is Mauve! I understand all the other colors but where is she getting mauve hair from? I would like to know. I would have thought that a hairnet made out of human hair would be disturbing. I guess Pat also had some second thoughts because there are nylons ones too.

You can only get Mauve if you are using the net to sleep in, though. The Slumber Net. Doesn't that sound like a bad horror movie? See Mary Lou fight insomnia, only to be pulled at last into the whirling terrors of - The Slumber Net!

Vanity Treasures has some vintage Princess Pat hair nets for sale, if this interests you. And Princess Pat had a whole cosmetics racket, as you can see here, where there are some cool old labels for same.

The Vintage Powder Room has a terrific post on Princess Pat, too.

The picture of Princess Patricia is from Wikimedia Commons. There are loads of Princess Pat tins and labels on Google Images but I never know if it is all right to use images off of, say, eBay. So I didn't. The Princess Pat cosmetics folks liked the color red, I can tell you that at least.


Judy said...

Hi Lidian...I am unfamiliar with Princess Pat...but I wanted to tell you that my Mom had a steamer trunk full of Life magazines and Look magazines and Sears catalogs dating back to ancient menus and post cards from all over the US and Europe. I asked her one day whatever happened to them...she gave them to the church to sell for "Trash and Treasure" sale they held every year...that's where all my old toys (dolls, dollhouses, etc.) went...sigh

Tori Lennox said...

The mauve hair net isn't real human hair. It's from My Little Pony's tail.

And, y'know, I'd always been under the impression they were called hair nets because they were used to keep your hair neat and tidy. Not because they were made from hair. *shudder*

Lidian said...

Judy - Oh, Judy! Oh my goodness...I need a cold compress thinking of that. What a shame!

Tori - Yeah, that's a My Little Pony by-product I am sure. I have never seen an ad for human-hair hair nets before this one.

Amy said...

wow hairnets made from real hair? not sure I'd like someone elses hair on my head. I always use to think that hairnets were used at night to hold the curlers in.

Hairball said...

I'd like to know how they collected the hair to make the hairnets.

Lidian said...

Amy - Unless you work in a diner I don't see why you'd want to wear a hair net, especially one made out of human hair. Oh, or a factory, I guess.

Hairball - Actually, I don't really want to know! :)

Stephanie M said...

Great post - I heart hairnets! What a great fashion statement, and they never go out of style ;)

Lidian said...

Stephanie - It's a fun look, isn't it? Like the Victorian snood. Hey, I ought to write about snoods over at VDM!