Iconic Hairstyle's Midwestern Roots Honored

Jan 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm
It's been fifty years since a hairstylist in Chicago first worked iconic magic with a rat-tail comb and a ton of hairspray. And now, her contribution to the planet's catalog of fabulous is being honored by the Chicago History Museum and Cosmetologists Chicago.

Margaret Vinci Heldt invented the famous beehive style in an era where it was commonplace for women to go to the beauty salon every week, rather than washing and styling their own hair at home. A tough-as-nails bouffant that could weather a storm or a restless sleeper's nightly tossing was a major asset to this style of grooming.

Heldt told the TribLocal Elmhurst that "I used to tell my clients 'I don't care what your husband does from the neck down, but I don't want him to touch you from the neck up.'"

She says the hairstyle and its name took inspiration from a felt hat she had with two beaded bees on it. The hat was sturdy and didn't mess her hair up. That inspiring topper is heading for the Chicago History Museum. And Cosmetologists Chicago, a trade group in the Windy City, is endowing a scholarship in Heldt's name.

Not bad for a triumph of back-combing and Aqua Net!