Tuesdays - Fridays,
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Admission is free.
A Walk Through Hair Styling History
click images for more detail
It's easy to take cordless curling irons, 45-minute permanents
and portable hair dryers for granted. But to see just how far the
cosmetology industry has come, pay a visit to Tony Kendall's Wild
Hair Museum - the only one of its kind in the world. This highly
unusual museum is located inside of his beauty salon, Body
Reflections, in the small resort town of French Lick, Indiana. (French
Lick is 105 miles southwest of Indianapolis.)
An unusual collection of vintage razors, shears, combs, hairbrushes,
hair tonics, permanent-wave machines and, of course, even hair,
are displayed in cases and on wall-to-wall shelves within the salon
Two of Mr. Kendall's prized possessions are an authenticated
lock of Elvis Presley's hair and a framed antique hair wreath.
"That wreath couldn't be mad today; it's a lost art,"
says Mr. Kendall about the hair wreath that dates back to Civil
War times. Locks, from generations of the same Indiana family, are
woven into an open-ended wreath of perfectly shaped flowers. Each
flower represents an individual. These family heirlooms were once
quite common. But during a plague scare in the early 1900s. People
worried that the disease could be passed on through these wreath,
so families burned them, says Mr. Kendall. Today, they are very
The 'enthusiastic' cosmetologist has collected hair styling-related
antiques from every state except Hawaii. Some "treasures"
were given to him. In more recent years, he's been able to purchase
items over the Internet. "I've had to calm down a bit because
I'm running out of space," he admits. Mr. Kendall can easily
trace the evolution of cosmetology through advances in such inventions
as the curling iron. For example, side-by-side on a shelf are relics
heated by kerosene, gaslight and finally, electricity.
"I love this business," he says. "And I'm dedicated
to every aspect of it."
That's why, he adds, it' important to not only collect and preserve
pieces of cosmetology history, but make them readily available to
Mr. Kendall never considered being anything other than a cosmetologist.
In some ways his fate was sealed from birth. I was named Tony after
the Toni home permanent," he acknowledges. "I can't fix
a car or build a houses, but I can cut hair."
While hair care has changed dramatically over the years, one thing
remains as true today as it was hundreds of years ago, he maintains.
"Women still battle over what to do with their hair."
To draw people to his museum, every fall Mr. Kendall sponsors an
annual Hair & Trade Show in French Lick. He's also a member
Indiana Board of Cosmetology Examiners and Director, Region 2, of
the National Interstate Council of State Boards (NIC).
Adds Mr. Kendall: "My life revolves around hair."
--Educator 2, Summer 2001