The life of Peggy Bagot-Chester (full name Peggy Mary Clotilde Pagot-Chester) has opened up the whole world of 1940s hair styling to me – look at those sculpted curls! Peggy was a volunteer ambulance driver during the Blitz – my diarist June met her at Danvers Street in Chelsea 3 days after she joined the service — but her day job was actor and knitwear and hair model.
Peggy modelled for advertisements for Jamal, a brand of cold permanent wave. Cold perming was a bit of a revolution, invented in 1938 in which eyewatering chemicals altered the structure of the hair follicle, the locks of hair were then threaded through a foldable grid (the Vapet), and Jamalotion was applied to set it. (Hot perming was arguably an even more arduous ordeal which involved attaching yourself for hours via wires to hot machines but by September 1939 was generally not even possible. The war ended all production of the machines.)
Peggy, who had been a debutante in 1932, was married when she worked with June. Her husband, Wallace Stuart Finlayson, an actor and director better known as Wallace Douglas, was missing and it later turned out he was a PoW. They divorced in 1946 and she remarried soon after, but that relationship ended in divorce too. She remained in Chelsea and died aged 90.