The days when women greeted with “Up Spain!” in the barber shop

Did you know that the fashionable hairstyle in 1940 was called “Arriba España”? Or that hair was frowned upon after the war because it was “red”? And Phalanx Did you have a women’s fashion magazine called “Y” (for the chromosome) dedicated to “the national unionist woman”? Or that the most famous ladies’ hair salon in Madrid became a center of power for the Franco regime in the 1940s? And that the Mariquita Pérez doll was the model for the Spanish Falangist doll and “as God commands”? Yes, it was another world. The morals of that time Now it squeaks at us and its habits surprise us. However, the history of those years has been so reduced to a caricature of a sacristy, a tavern and a burning sun in the dry land that we forget that there was a very intense social life on which we have forged today’s Spain.

Ana Velasco Molpeceres, journalist, historian and professor at the Complutense University, has written a book about the feminine world of those years titled «Fashion in Francoism. Tulle illusion and up to Spain» (Cataract, 2024). The work is full of anecdotes and data that serve to develop a profile of femininity and women of that time. This is also a history of gender, of a look at the everyday past, of fabrics and curlers, of childhood dreams, cinematic sighs and coming-of-age that goes beyond the reprisals by Franco and the Women’s Section that she presided from beginning to end. Pilar Primo de Rivera. In the Spain that left the civil War There was nothing but poverty, but people sought life to recover the daily life and the illusion. In the case of women, showing their femininity contrasted with the scarcity of the moment. Stockings, for example, were bought on the black market and cost an arm and a leg. Ana Velasco says that there were women who painted a stripe on the outside of their leg, from top to bottom, to simulate a stocking. There was no money for elegant dresses or hats either.At most, the handy handkerchief. The only thing the woman had to be fashionable was her hair. This is how the style of the first Franco regime was born. She was called “Arriba España” because she raised her bangs. Her hairstyle consisted of a high pompadour, with her hair loose at the nape of her neck and the rest tied up. A “good” woman, morally impeccable, dignified, faithful to the regime, wore an “Up Spain.”

immoral mane

Long hair, says Ana Velasco, was considered “unpatriotic,” “fresh,” and a “light-headed” woman. That mania with the “long-haired” lasted until the end of the Franco regime. The Falangists campaigned against Veronica Lake, an American actress, for displaying loose blonde hair in films that must have seemed almost pornographic to them. The American was 20 years old and was aiming for “pin-up.” He had starred with Fredric March in the comedy “I Married a Witch” (1942). Falange did not like the film, nor did the quintessential erotic film of those years: “Gilda” (1946), by Rita Hayworth. They were not released until 1948 and were conveniently censored, but a scandal was created, immorality was related to long hair and the hairstyle “Arriba España” was fought against.

The Women’s Section carried out a campaign against the pelambreras. The argument was that there should be no more “terrible militia manes that, accompanied by lame shoes (in reference to the topolino, with very high platforms and wedge shapes) and bizarre hats” They made the woman look “ridiculous”. For this reason, the Falangists said in 1945 in the women’s magazine “Medina” and in capital letters: “DEFINITELY, THE HAIR THAT DISAPPEARS.”

The topic was taken by the hair, so the Casa Rosita hair salon, where the Franco, mother and daughter, came to have their hair done and receive beauty treatments, it became a center of power. There they not only read gossip magazines and talked about men, but they did business. Ana Velasco tells it as if we could see “La collares” leafing through “Y” to see how the so-called “women in blue”, the Falangists, dressed, or “The Fashion of Spain”, with covers by Saénz de Tejada, who went from drawing soldiers of the “national side” to melancholic “national girls.”

The magazine of Franco’s Spain that was seen in hairdressers or other places of good living was “Hello!”, which appeared in Barcelona in 1944 with moralizing editorials so that women knew how to be feminine and upright. Ana Velasco includes an editorial from September 1944 that said: “Has it not occurred to you to ask yourself why a woman occupies such a privileged position in human dialectics?” And she responded: “Because she is the depositary of the moral treasure.” Now, what if she lost her “morality”? Well, very simple: “she couldn’t replace her with anything.” In that case she “would be the same as men, but without her strength, her ability, her intelligence and her training.” She had no morals, like the men, who were immoral, and the woman being so “inferior”, it would barely “find accommodation to fulfill its limited biological purposes.” The “accommodation” thing referred to the fact that if the woman did not have morals, no one would want to marry her and, therefore, she would not fulfill her social function of having children.

The model of a correct, useful and patriotic woman had to permeate all generations for the issue to work. She was born like this Mariquita Pérez, the doll that became an icon, a reflection of what every girl could be and have. The chapter that Ana Velasco dedicates to the popular doll is fantastic. The idea was from Leonor Coello from Portugal. Her purpose, in addition to doing business, was for young Spanish girls to have a model of behavior. She took María Pilar Luca de Tena, daughter of the founder of “Abc”, as a partner to ideate it. The name had to sound very Spanish and they decided on Mariquita, from María, and with the surname Pérez, very common. She left in 1940, the year of famine. Ana Velasco has done the math and explains that if the doll cost 85 pesetas, for most families it meant a month of savings. The departure was a bombshell. The avalanche was such that they took over three floors on Núñez de Balboa Street, with a workshop and a dress shop. The girls went out into the street wearing the same outfit as Mariquita PérezLogically, only the wealthiest. He also had a radio show dedicated to the doll, theater shows, books, toiletries and a 45 rpm record. But everything has an end. The new generation did not want to play at being a mother, but rather to have a friend. That was the Nancy doll, which was born in 1968 with a more modern spirit and ended up displacing Mariquita, which was discontinued in 1976. The doll lasted as long as the Franco regime.


Women’s debuts became a competition of popularity and luxury, at least until the 1960s. The great duel took place between Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, the future Duchess of Alba, and Carmen Franco de Polo. , the dictator’s daughter. They both turned 17 in 1943. The Caudillo did not want his daughter to be overshadowed by a Grandee of Spain, with a thousand aristocratic, diplomatic and financial contacts, who could show off class and charm with an international aroma. Carmencita was still the daughter of a provincial couple, without great studies or brilliance. Franco then decided to withdraw in time, and let Cayetana be the protagonist on her birthday, April 27, at the Palacio de las Dueñas, in Seville, with thousands of guests. Carmencita had to wait for the impact of the festival to dissipate and celebrated it in December 1944, a year later. By the way, the contrast between the wealth on display and the surrounding poverty did not diminish even with the act of charity at the Home for the Destitute Elderly after the party.