Margaret Vinci Heldt, creator of the beehive hairstyle, dies at 98

Margaret Vinci Heldt, the Chicago beautician famous for creating the iconic beehive hairstyle that defined 1960s coiffure, died from heart failure on Friday in Elmhurst, Illinois, at the age of 98. When the beehive — a style in which hair is back-combed for volume and piled on top of the head — premiered in February 1960 in trade magazine Modern Beauty Shop, it marked a change from the bouffant and the other more flattened hairstyles of the 1950s.

American singer Aretha Franklin looks over her shoulder, her hair pulled up into a beehive style, 1961. Franklin was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Photo by Metronome/Getty Images)

American singer Aretha Franklin looks over her shoulder, her hair pulled up into a beehive style, 1961. (Photo by Metronome/Getty Images)

Heldt, a daughter of Italian immigrants, was born in 1918, became a licensed cosmetologist in 1937, and by 1954 was owner of a successful salon and winner of a competition for national hairdresser of the year. As 1960 beckoned, the editors of Modern Beauty Shop (now Modern Salon), asked her for a new hairstyle to bring in the new decade. Inspiration, Heldt said, came from a black fez-like cap that she was particularly fond of. “I always would look at that little hat and say, ‘Someday I’m going to create a hairstyle that would fit under the hat, and when you take the hat off, the hairstyle would be there,” Heldt recalled.

Using hair spray, Heldt constructed the as-yet-unnamed hairstyle, providing a final touch with a pin from the hat, in the shape of a bee, that she put in the model’s hair. It was a writer from the magazine who gave the beehive its name, Heldt said. “Margaret,” he told her, “it looks just like a beehive! Do you mind if we call it the beehive?”

Watch the video of Heldt’s interview with Modern Salon below.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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