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27 OCT 2014 - BY BEN TAUB
Although many will probably end up closer to Keith Lemon on the facial-hair spectrum than Magnum PI, the sponsored, month-long growth-fest is set up for a great cause and has amassed millions for testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental health charities around the world.
Starting its life in Australia, a nation that gave us such top-lip treats as the Chopper Reid, Movember has gone from strength to strength and today 21 countries participate in the tash-tastic event.
So then, to get you in the mood for all things moustache and give you some inspiration regarding your own attempt, we thought we’d take a look at some of the most audacious facial hair traditions that history has to offer.
Before beards became a status symbol, the barbarians of Germanic ancient Rome were rocking some of the most rugged facial growths known to man. Germanic men were known to swear oaths upon their beardly pride, showing just how seriously they took facial hair.
So fierce were these beards that their growth was even spurred on by the blood of others. It is said that the barbarians would not cut their hair or beards until they had killed their first enemy. And some think growing a moustache for a month is extreme!
The incredible moustaches of ancient Mongol raiders inspired the iconic growth of Fu Manchu, a moustache style that will no doubt be adorning to top lip of many this month. Throughout history, the Mongolian horsemen who invaded China have often been depicted with such impressively groomed staches, where two long, tapered ‘tendrils’ are grown out but the rest of the face is left clean shaven.
Nowadays, this type of moustache has become a bit of a stereotype, however, if paintings of old Khans are to be believed, there was once a time when such a growth was commonplace among the Mongol warriors who created the largest empire in history.
Back in the 19th and 20th centuries, you would find many a Frenchman wearing facial hair styled similar to that of the famous painter Sir Anthony van Dyck. Before its time in many ways, this flamboyant look combined two popular styles of facial growth, with a goatee and flared handle-bar moustache coming together perfectly to create an unstoppable hairy tag-team - Van Dyke certainly knew how to set a trend.
The secret to Van Dykes' originality was that the goatee was detached from the moustache so that both pieces could be independently styled. The look became so popular in France that it is often known as the ‘French Beard’.
When the soul patch became popular in the 1950s America among jazz musicians, it was said to be so because of the comfort it provided when a player was using the mouthpiece of a trumpet.
More akin with artistic, creative types, this understated piece was very common among young African Americans who would adorn their lower lip with the smallest trace of facial hair. The soul patch continued to be popular throughout the 60s and is still worn today by a few brave, if not a little misguided souls.
As we started our geography of facial growths in the land down under, it’s only fitting we end it there as well. In many ways, the outlaw Ned Kelly was the original hipster. With his aggressive, unruly beard and close cropped, quiffed hair do, the infamous Australian was the first to rock this look as he terrorised authorities in Victoria back in the day.
It’s unlikely that Ned grew the beard for fashion purposes - as he evaded police in the outback, he probably didn't have access to a razor, much less time to stop and have a shave. Today, Ned would be lost in a sea of similarly-styled facial hair if he were to reside in Shoreditch but there's no denying that he was one of the first to wear this formidable style. What style of stache will you be going for this Movember? Whatever you choose, it’s all for a good cause!