The hipster rebels of World War II France

Stephanie Buck, Timeline

Why is it always the long-haired freaks who cause trouble?

Well, for the zazous, a rebellious youth subculture in World War II-era France, long hair was a literal form of protest. A 1942 government decree asked that all barbershops collect and donate hair to the war effort, to be manufactured into slippers and sweaters. The rebellious *zazous* refused, and grew their locks long.

During those years, the country’s conservative Vichy regime and its prime minister Philippe Pétain were collaborating with the occupying Nazis to impress strict morality laws on a youth population it deemed lazy and dissident.

In protest of Vichy ideology and enforced austerity, *zazou* followers challenged the image of an obedient, gender-normative, homogenized French citizenry. When the government imposed fabric rations, *zazou* men wore long, billowy jackets to their knees, gathered trousers, and tiny moustaches. They carried “Chamberlain” umbrellas even on sunny days, a parody of English style. Women wore jackets with wide shoulders, short skirts, bold lipstick, and bleached Hollywood-style hair.

They were the ultra hipsters, hipsters before it was cool.

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Originally published on Valiant Ghost

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