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Hirsute catalogue Zurich hairstyles through the ages

This illustrated book is a compilation of pictures from the archive of the photo studio of Gaechter+Clahsen. They were commissioned by the Zurich hairdresser salon Elsässer, "House of Hair and Beauty".

The oldest photographs date from the 1970s, the most recent from the 1990s. The pictures were produced in the photographer couple’s studio and later presented to the distinguished ladies of the Zurich Society as a catalogue of the latest hairstyle trends.

In the calendar fashion show season - in which the major international fashion houses showed their new collections - young female models wandered to the Elsässer salon to get the latest haircut, the most up-to-date style. Afterwards, they quickly took a taxi to the studio to have their images captured by the photographers.

Their pictures were aimed at a bourgeois clientele for whom quality was non-negotiable and was something they were willing to pay for. Only the best was good enough.

The photographers Gaechter+Clahsen are also representatives of a generation that espoused a similar attitude. For them, photography was a craft that demanded technical competence, care and objective precision. However, they were not the artists - that was the hairdressers!

The collection of images is a time capsule. It may not be immediately obvious that we are looking at a bygone era, but it is subtly perceptible. And the hairstyles, in all shapes and sizes, always take centre stage.

The title of the book - Five Finger Hairdryer Hairstyle - remains a mystery. The pictures by Peter Gaechter (1939) and Bettina Clahsen (1941) are accompanied by a text by the Zurich art historian Jörg Scheller. The book release party will take place on September 4 at 7pm in the new workspace of Edition Patrick Frey at Limmatstrasse 268 in Zurich.

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