The history of Joseph Fleischer as a wig design studio spans a century and is a chronicle of the lives of three men with brilliant talents in the high art of wig design.
Joseph Fleischer, Louis Feder, and Jerry Roman were all legends in the wig design world during their respective eras.
Joseph Fleischer was the scion of an esteemed wig design and hairstyling family in Austria. At the turn of the last century he was apprenticed in his teenage years to Europe’s master hairstylists. By twenty-one, he was the head hair stylist and make-up artist for the Kaiserhof Vienna Opera House.
He soon married and when the couple honeymooned in America they decided to stay.
Joseph was fascinated by American hairstyles. He began a self-imposed apprenticeship at Simonson’s, the top New York City salon of the time. While working at the salon, he discovered that American wig design techniques were not up to European standards. He found a local hairpiece maker and joined his studio to teach his craft. Joseph improved the quality of production and perfected his own skills in bleaching, tinting, and curling natural hair for wigs.
In 1917, Joseph Fleischer opened his establishment in New York and excelled at creating the finest hand-crafted and custom fit wigs for women by applying exclusive techniques and employing superior raw materials.
Joseph Fleischer & Company flourished until the 1950s when Fleischer approached Louis Feder to form a partnership.
Louis Feder arrived in New York as a young man with a family while fleeing Austria-Hungary in the days leading up to World War I. He had been a wigmaker in the Old World and he and his wife set up shop in Lower Manhattan.
The Feder’s studio specialized in theatrical wigs for Broadway costumes until the stock market crash of 1929. With a lack of shows on Broadway, Louis befriended the new movie producers and began a long career as the wig designer to Hollywood studios and the stars. The Feder studio created the wigs used by actors in Cleopatra, The Phantom of the Opera, King, and Lady Godiva.
It has been said that Max Factor gave up wig design and focused solely on cosmetics after seeing a Louis Feder wig.
By the 1950’s, a Louis Feder wig or hairpiece was known to be the finest for theatre, film, or street wear. At this point, Louis Feder and Joseph Fleischer were competitors who held each other in high regard. As Joseph was getting older, he wanted to retire and proposed a merger to Louis. Louis accepted.
The Louis Feder and Joseph Fleischer studio was enormous and held 125 artisans, each trained personally by Louis. There were 8 floor walkers who supplied various materials to the artisans on the studio floor. The front office employed 4 receptionists, 16 wig designers, and 30 hairstylists. The studio thrived and Louis was creating beautiful wigs and hairpieces which brought joy to so many people.
In 1964, Louis Feder passed away.
In the early 1960’s, Jerry Roman was a leading hairstylist with the famous New York hair salon, Lillie D’ache, and he taught hair styling at the famous Paris Hair Academy in the Bronx, NY.
His career came to a temporary halt in 1962 when he was drafted into the US Army and served 24 months stationed in Germany. While in Germany, he would visit European hair salons and keep up his skills. In Europe, he saw that stylists used a handheld hair dryer, which had not yet arrived in America. While in Heidelberg, Jerry was introduced to Otto Krauss, an 80 year old master hairpiece and wigmaker while looking for a hairpiece for himself. Jerry was so impressed with Krauss’ technique that he studied under the master until leaving Germany in 1964.
Upon his return to the US, Jerry sought out a hairpiece for his own personal needs and came to the Feder Company. He compared the work by the Feder Company with the techniques he learned in Europe and decided to open his own shop on Broadway and 51st. Between 1965 and 1975, Jerry combined all he had learned from Otto Krauss and applied the professionalism and procedures of Louis Feder. He developed many breakthroughs in the field, including the use of hair dryers after cutting a hairpiece, a lighter hairpiece using less hair and finer foundation, and a pre-made stretch hairpiece for men that sold at Macy’s.
In 1975, Jerry bought the House of Feder and expanded his business to catalog. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s, Jerry Roman grew the House of Feder to a household name.
At the turn of this century, the House of Feder operated its men’s studio under the subdivision of Joseph Fleischer Co.
After a transition in the early 2000’s, the company aligned the women’s and men’s division under the single flagship of Joseph Fleischer Co. The three separate companies in our history all held a shared devotion to quality workmanship and a mutual philosophy that the best wigs are made from unprocessed, natural human hair hand-knotted by experts. We are now a single resource dedicated to producing bespoke wigs and hairpieces for men, women, and children.
Today, Joseph Fleischer is known worldwide for expert craftsmanship and compassionate service. Every wig and hairpiece is made to order by artisans and wig designers to meet our rigorous standards. Every client receives individual attention from a considerate specialist.