If you blow-dry your hair, you have a Jewish woman to thank


Jordan Palmer, Director of digital Communications

I’m patiently waiting to go to brunch.

I’m waiting because my wife Leigh is blow-drying her hair. I only mention that, because she just came inside from outside, and said, “It’s too cold to be outside with wet hair,” and now, I’m waiting.

As I often do, I try to connect anything I see to Jewishness. It’s like fishing. I’ll cast my line and see if I get a bite. Usually, I don’t get a nibble, when I use the Google machine, but today I got a strike when I literally searched “Jewish, Blow-Dryer” and lo and behold I discovered the story of Rose Evansky.

Rose Evansky was a pioneer in the use of the hand-held blow dryer and is credited as the inventor of blow-dry styling and making thos egg-shaped hair dryers you see in the picture above, nearly irrelevant. She died in 2016, at the age of 94.

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Born Rose Lerner in 1922 in Worms, Germany, she was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, who unleashed the revolutionary blow-dry style onto the world from her shop in Mayfair, London then the cultural capital of hairstyling. One day, Ms. Evansky eyed a “barber drying the front of a man’s hair with a brush and a hand-held dryer.” She thought: “Why not for women?”

Not long after, the technique made headlines. By brush of luck one day in 1962, the British editor of Vogue happened to drop by Evansky’s shop. Aghast at Ms. Evansky’s technique, the editor rang the fashion editor of The Evening Standard—later that night the newspaper unleashed “the blow wave” onto the world.

Ms. Evansky, whose father was imprisoned at Dachau in 1938, and who, speaking only German and Yiddish, escaped Nazi Germany by way of Kindertransport, championed her so-called “Mayfair style”—one characterized by “freedom and movement.”

As for her own hair (naturally air-dried) she cut it herself. As she once told W magazine, “Why would I let anyone else when I can do it myself?”