Chaos reigns as we try to stave off the anarchy. Going a hundred miles a minute trying to keep up. Excessive worrying and stress filled thoughts. If men knew what our minds were like their heads would explode. Rife with solicitude and frustration. Everyday feeling as if you are in the midst of a horrific storm. Through it all though is the light in the dark, an oasis amidst the desert of despair; the salon. An entire dimension segregated from the tirade of the normal world where we can relax and discuss. A respite where we as women can release frustrations and be ourselves. Where did this wonderful place originate?
The word “Salon” actually means gathering. Originating in France during the 17th century, derived from an Italian word salone. The gathering (Salon) was an extent into social revelry and the pursuit of aesthetics and education. Originating during the Enlightenment period, the salon was a social event typically held by an affluent Lady. She would gather close friends and confidants and lead discussions; typically aimed towards education and enlightened thinking. Historically it can be argued that the first salons had a tremendous affect on enlightened authors of the era. The public sphere of the salon created by these ladies pursued the education of mental aesthetics.
During the enlightenment period literary circles formed around these coteries. Discussing Hobbes, Locke, and Luther; building a political court outside the traditional government with the intent of intelligence and beauty. It is due to this pursuit of aesthetic education that led to the romantic era. Purveyed by the rise of the industrial revolution and building upon reasoning. The salon transformed to accept this new era and began to have artists as well as literary workers. The salon was an epicenter for aesthetic reform that was dictated by lovely women and their friends.
This continued for some time into the twentieth century during the modernist era. Still the salon was a social gathering of artistic beauty. As T. S. Elliot alluded in his poem, “In the room women come and go. Talking of Michelangelo.” It was during this extent that the artwork switched mediums and culminated into the style and makeup salons as they are so well known for today. Still the salon emulated aesthetic pursuits along a new skein. Slowly the salon adapted to this new facet of beauty, and thus the salons as we know it today were born.
As you look around the ideal first formed by the salon is still prevalent today. Still ran by a head lady and her team. Making appointments and speaking of beauty. Artists displayed and working as hairdressers. The latest objects of beauty showcased in magazines. The discussion of life and events. Next time you are within a salon take a look around and remember this. This oasis was formed long ago and still adheres to the pursuit of beauty in all its forms.