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Q: Venetian Blond ( Answered,   9 Comments )
Subject: Venetian Blond
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: athomas24-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 18 Mar 2005 11:25 PST
Expires: 17 Apr 2005 12:25 PDT
Question ID: 496837
What is the origin of the phrase Venetian Blond? What exactly does it mean?

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 21 Mar 2005 08:50 PST

I have found two early uses of the phrase "Venetian blond" -- one from
1896, and one from 1922.  Neither instance is used disparagingly, but
merely appears in the text as a description of a color -- in one case,
for a woman's hair, and in another, for hoisery.

I'd be glad to provide the context for both uses as an answer to your
question, if that would meet your needs.

However, the early usage doesn't really get at the question of the
actual origin of the phrase, so I'll certainly understand if you would
prefer more definitive information.

Let me know.


Clarification of Question by athomas24-ga on 23 Mar 2005 12:27 PST
pafalafa-ga, I would be interested in seeing the references you found
and would be happy to accept them as an answer. I also found
amber00-ga's link very valuable. Is there a mechanism by which I could
also compensate her for her efforts?

Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 24 Mar 2005 09:12 PST

Thanks so much for getting back to me and to the commenters, and
letting us know that our work has been of value to you.

I agree wholeheartedly that amber00-ga found some great material on
this--good thing (s)he has a good memory for those history books!

As for the material I came across, I cannot reproduce it in full since
it is copyrighted, but I can certainly provide the relevant excerpts,
and have done so below.

I found these at a terrific site called which
you can certainly search yourself if you want to see the original
articles, or look for other sorts of information (there's a fee,
though, for accessing materials at the site).  Let me know if you need
any more information about this.

Thanks again for your question,



 Illinois | Decatur | Decatur Daily Review | 1922-08-15 

From the Decatur (IL) Daily Review
August 15, 1922

Fashion Hints

...Venetian blond and antelope are new shades in hosiery.  They are
very sheer, and usually have openwork clocks...

[Sorry...but I have no idea what an "openwork clock" is...]


Bucks County (PA) Gazette 
April 4, 1896

[This article was an item about the surprise announcement of a
long-standing engagement of some European notables, and included a
first-person account of M. Reszke's fiancee]

Jean De Reszke's Fiancee

...I have been engaged for seven years to the Comtesse de Donlaine,
the divorced Comtesse de Maillu-Nesle.

..My fiancee is devoted to the theater...She has a beautiful voice,
and is perhaps the best amateur singer in Paris.  

...Her personal appearance?  She is a Venetian blond...


Again, let me know if there is anything else I can do for you on this.

Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: research_help-ga on 18 Mar 2005 12:21 PST
Are you sure you don't mean venetian blinds? This is a type of window covering.
Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: pinkfreud-ga on 18 Mar 2005 12:27 PST
"Venetian Blond" (or "Venetian Blonde") has been used as the name of a
shade of hair dye. Is that what you're interested in?
Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: athomas24-ga on 18 Mar 2005 12:42 PST
It was also used in the title of an old pulp fiction novel:

I want to know the origin. Where does the phrase come from?

This is the closest explanation I've found:

So if I were to say someone was a "Venetian Blonde" am I suggesting:

a) that their hair color has a certain kind of blonde hue.
b) that their hair is dyed.
c) that they are a prostitute.
Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: myoarin-ga on 21 Mar 2005 08:28 PST
Good question.
Could it relate to Venetian paintings of blond women?  Maybe a
specific one that was so poplular that the color of her hair became
From my limited experience, dark haired Italians's hair bleaches to a
medium honey color.
Venetian in the pulp fiction refers to Venice, California, it seems,
and the bar scene on the cover is US, that barstool.
Is this the only place you found the expression?, well, now besides
Pinkfreud's reference?  Before I believed that the hair dye name had
been taken from some other source, I would want to check the
producer's names for the whole line.
Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: amber00-ga on 22 Mar 2005 15:37 PST
It refers to the hair colour of women in Titian's paintings (Titian
was a Venetian artist).  Venetian women were in the habit if bleaching
their hair by applying various chemicals then sitting in the sun with
their hair spread out on a halo-like frame. The result is Titian
blonde aka Venetian blonde.
Here is a link which describes the process:

I hope this is what you were looking for. Do say if it helps.

search strategy: I remembered this from a history book and googled
various permutations of:
hair sun bleach Italy Titian
Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: myoarin-ga on 24 Mar 2005 09:02 PST
Hey, Amber, that's great, and a great site.  Finally a definitve answer!
Titian blond(e) is I guess an alternative expression. 
Wonder what color blonde the stuff produces?  "Ven.Blond, stupid!"

Athomas, we learned that prostitutes in Rome bleached, and that
tradition has carried on through the centuries and up into Germany. 
But then, north of Hamburg, where blond is maybe predominant as the
natural hair color, the bargirls dye their hair black (well, they used
to, as I discovered in Copenhagen decades ago.)
Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: amber00-ga on 27 Mar 2005 06:20 PST
I'm not a Google researcher so you're welcome to the freebie. I'm glad to help.
Pafalafa, 'clocks' are a decoration that appears just above the heel
of a stocking: often embroidered or in openwork.
Best wishes,
Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: myoarin-ga on 27 Mar 2005 13:18 PST
there are also men's socks with clocks, any little design on the side,
but I don't wear them either.  But why are they called clocks?  (I
know, I've got to pay for answer if I don't want to trouble to find it
Subject: Re: Venetian Blond
From: pinkfreud-ga on 27 Mar 2005 13:33 PST
According to Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary
(unabridged), the "clock" of hosiery is related to the bell shape of
the embroidery:

"Etymology: Probably from clock (bell), from its original shape."

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