When we think quiff, we think rock ‘n’ roll – but the history of the pompadour is more diverse than James Brown and Elvis. 

The pompadour – hair worn high and swept back from the face – was named for  the Marquise de Pompadour; 18th century mistress of Louis XV and fan of big hair. Her influence meant the style spread through courts, with women across France wearing their hair teased at the front and wrapped around padding for volume. In the 19th century, the Gibson Girl hairstyle was built around the pompadour – again, worn by women and this time softened with some loose strands of hair left down.

Elsewhere, numerous traditional Geisha styles feature quiffed sections at the front of the head – particularly the Wareshinobu and Ofuku styles. Amongst Native Americans, the Seminole people also wore styles with voluminous rolls at the forehead, not dissimilar to later rockabilly looks in American culture. 

In the 1940s and 50s, men adapted the pompadour into the quiff and the style became synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll. Elvis, Little Richard, James Brown and more all opted for high-shine, brylcreemed quiffs, which became popular with both male and female fans.

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