I still remember Sunday mornings as a child.  The whole family gathered at my grandparents’ house.  There was the sound of laughter and lively chatter, the smell of delicious food, and the sight of my grandmother busy behind the burners with small strange tubes rolled into her hair.  The ritual was always the same: when the lasagna was almost ready, she ran out of the kitchen and returned a few minutes later with a magnificent head of soft and wavy hair.  It was as though she were a magician with amazing powers of transformation.  It would take several years before I learned that, while  my Grandma does have many incredible talents, what I witnessed as a child was the magic of hair rollers and not a magician’s wand.


Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida wearing hair rollers in a film


Today, I am the one who uses hair rollers to transform my everyday style into something special for a night out with friends. While the type of rollers I use are different from those of my grandmother, I too find it the best way to give my hair a special look while at the same time stirring a pot of sauce for dinner or catching up on some studying. For centuries women have used hair rollers to style their hair and, although the technology for hair rollers has changed over the years, the process of curling hair is still the same. By applying heat to a lock of hair that has been wound around  a cylindrical metal appliance, the form of the hair changes and adopts more or less accentuated curves.


Sophia Loren prepares in hair rollers under a hair dryer


In the end, the hair roller is a simple and humble object.  Yet, at the same time it refers to an alluring aura of sophistication.  When I think of the hair roller I don’t just remember my grandmother suddenly becoming the image of an impeccably polished lady, I also remember the soft and sexy waves of Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale in the movies that made them famous.  Even on a damp and rainy day in Milan when no amount of hairspray will make a style stick around for an entire evening, I pull out my hair rollers. It’s the ritual of preparation that casts a magic spell, transforming my evening from one of studying to one of dancing.


Woman with hair rollers